Vice Adm. Kenneth Whitesell formally began his role as the Navy’s ninth Air Boss last week, the service recently announced.
Whitesell’s change of command ceremony took place Friday at Naval Air Station North Island on aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71), the Navy said in a news release. Vice Adm. DeWolfe Miller, who served as the commander of Naval Air Forces and Naval Air Force Pacific since January 2018, officially retired during Friday’s event, according to the service.
“When I hear Admiral DeWolfe Miller’s name, here’s what I think of: a proven lethal combat pilot, commander of a U.S. aircraft carrier as a captain and as a strike group commander, husband, father, family man, mentor, leader, and friend … Because of your rigorous, tireless commitment, the Navy is in a better place today,” U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Adm. John Aquilino, who led the event, said in a statement.
During the ceremony, the Navy issued Miller the Distinguished Service Medal for his nearly 40 years of service, the news release said. Miller is a 1981 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, according to his service biography. He began his naval aviation career flying the A-7E Corsair and later shifted to the F/A-18 Hornet.
Before becoming the new Air Boss, Whitesell had been the deputy commander of PACFLEET since July 2019, according to his biography. Whitesell graduated from Old Dominion University in 1983. He flew the F-14 Tomcat and later the F/A-18F Super Hornet.
Like Miller, Whitesell also once served as the commander of the George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) Carrier Strike Group. Whitesell also commanded Carrier Air Wing 1 when it was assigned to USS Enterprise (CVN-65).
“It is an honor to become the ninth ‘Air Boss’. The list of those who have served under the title of ‘Air Boss’ … remain the titans of naval aviation,” Whitesell said in a statement.