Vice Admiral Kenneth Whitesell

Commander, Naval Air Forces/Commander, Naval Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet

Mr. Bryan Scurry

Executive Director, Naval Air Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet

Captain Walt ''Sarge" Slaughter

Chief of Staff, Naval Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet

Force Master Chief H. Trenton Schmidt

Force Master Chief, Naval Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet

Commander Daniel D. Kuitu

Commanding Officer, Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 97

25 October 2020 Commander Kuitu, a native of Hobbs, New Mexico, graduated with a Bachelor of Science in History and received his commission from the United States Naval Academy in 2002. CDR Kuitu completed flight training at NAS Corpus Christi and NAS Kingsville, Texas. Designated as a Naval Aviator in May 2004, he reported to the “Flying Eagles” of VFA-122 at NAS Lemoore, California flying the FA-18E/F Super Hornet.

CDR Kuitu’s first fleet tour with the “Redcocks” of VFA-22 from 2005 to 2008 included a combat deployment in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM and a Western Pacific deployment on the USS RONALD REAGAN (CVN 76). In June 2008, CDR Kuitu completed the Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN) at NAS Fallon, Nevada and immediately deployed with the “Mighty Shrikes” of VFA-94 flying the FA-18C Hornet as part of the Navy Unit Deployment Program (UDP) to RAAF Tindal, Australia and MCAS Iwakuni, Japan. Ultimately, CDR Kuitu joined the “Outlaws” of Strike Fighter Weapons School Pacific as a Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor and Subject Matter Expert. After his Weapons School tour, CDR Kuitu reported as the pilot training officer in the “Black Knights” of VFA-154 from 2011 to 2012 which included support for Operations ENDURING FREEDOM, NEW DAWN, TOMODACHI on USS RONALD REAGN (CVN 76).

CDR Kuitu reported to the “Mighty Shrikes” of VFA-94 from 2013 to 2015 for his department head tour during which he deployed on USS CARL VINSON (CVN 70) in support of Operation INHERENT RESOLVE. During this tour, he was selected as the 2015 Commander, Naval Air Forces Pacific LCDR Michael G. Hoff Attack Aviator of the Year and received the American Legion Aviator Valor Award.

In 2016, CDR Kuitu earned his Master of Arts degree in National Security and Strategic Studies while participating in the Halsey Alfa advanced research project at the US Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. CDR Kuitu completed his joint tour while assigned to Allied Joint Force Command (JFC) Brunssum in the Netherlands where he served as a Military Partnership Staff Officer, Afghanistan Focus Group Staff Officer, and Deputy Director of the Afghanistan Focus Group from 2016 to 2019. In addition to serving in Europe, he completed a six-month deployment to Kabul, Afghanistan serving in the Command Group of Operation RESOLUTE SUPPORT. CDR Kuitu returned to NAS Lemoore, California in 2019 to VFA-122 for refresher training in the FA-18E Super Hornet.

Commander Kuitu has over 2,900 flight hours and 630 arrested landings. His decorations include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Individual Air Medal, Strike/Flight Air Medal (3 awards), Joint Service Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (4 awards), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal along with various unit and service-related awards.
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