Defense Secretary Ash Carter is nominating Gen. David Goldfein to become the next Air Force Chief of Staff.
Goldfein, a combat pilot with more than 4,200 hours in the air, has been serving as the vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force since last August.
He flew combat missions in Afghanistan as well as in the first Gulf war in the early 1990s. He has piloted the MQ-9 Reaper drone, the MC-12W Liberty surveillance aircraft and various fighter jets.
Goldfein’s F-16 fighter jet was shot down over Serbia in 1999 during the Kosovo war, but he safely ejected and was found and rescued.
If confirmed by the Senate, he would replace Gen. Mark Welsh, who is retiring.
Goldfein’s family has a long history of service in the Air Force, reports the Air Force Times. His father was in the Air Force, as was his brother, retired Maj. Gen. Stephen Goldfein, and he has a daughter currently in the Air Force.
According to the Air Force Times, after he graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1983, Goldfein began his undergraduate pilot training, and worked his way up the ranks, eventually becoming director of operations for Air Combat Command at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia in 2009. He also commanded Air Forces Central Command in Southwest Asia from 2011 to 2013, and was director of the Joint Staff at the Pentagon for two years.
Goldfein “received his fourth star and became the second-highest ranking officer in the Air Force last August, after former vice Gen. Larry Spencer retired,” said the Air Force Times. “He has received a Defense Distinguished Service Medal with an oak leaf cluster, a Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters, and the Distinguished Flying Cross with a Valor device and an oak leaf cluster, among other decorations.”