Vice Adm. Kenneth Whitesell named head of Naval Air Forces. Courtesy Naval Air Forces

Vice Adm. Kenneth Whitesell relieved Vice Adm. DeWolfe Miller III to become the commander of all Naval Air Forces and Naval Air Force Pacific during a ceremony Friday aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt at Naval Air Station North Island.

The event was also a retirement ceremony for Miller, who was presented with the Distinguished Service Medal after a career spanning more than 39 years.

In his remarks, Miller described his career in the Navy through the perspective of an aircraft carrier pilot departing on a mission.

“All strapped in, engines started, avionics all set up; I know the checklist by heart,” he said before voicing his appreciation for aviation maintenance and support personnel.

Whitesell, who previously served as deputy commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, said it was an honor to be named head of Naval Air Forces.

“The list of those who have served under the title of ‘Air Boss’ remain the titans of naval aviation,” Whitesell said.

Whitesell said he will ensure that naval aviation continues to focus on, “superiority in aerial combat execution and coordination across multiple domains.”

Adm. John Aquilino, commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, presided over the change of command ceremony.

Whitesell is a graduate of the Navy Fighter Weapons School — TOPGUN — and participated in operations Desert Shield, Southern Watch, Deliberate Guard/Allied Force, Iraqi Freedom and Inherent Resolve.

He has accumulated more than 4,000 flight hours and 1,000 landings aboard aircraft carriers.

— City News Service