Gen. David Goldfein, a command pilot who flew combat missions in the Gulf War, the Afghanistan War, and in NATO’s 1999 air war in the former Yugoslavia, has been nominated to be the US Air Force’s next chief of staff, the Pentagon announced Tuesday. Gen. Goldfein is Jewish. He is married to his high school sweetheart, Dawn A. Goldfein, since 1983. They have two married daughters; the oldest is serving in the USAF and the youngest teaches first grade in Dallas, Texas.
If approved, Goldfein will start his new commission on July 1. He has been the Air Force’s vice chief of staff since August 2015.
“I’m extremely humbled by the nomination to serve as the Air Force’s 21st chief of staff,” Goldfein said in an Air Force press release. “If confirmed, I pledge to serve our airmen and their families unwaveringly and honor our remarkable heritage and legacy of integrity, service and excellence.”
Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James lauded Goldfein’s selection in the same release: “Gen. Goldfein possesses the experience and vision needed to address dynamic global challenges and increasing military demand. He knows how to build and sustain key partnerships, has important warfighting experience, and will exercise the critical judgment required to balance our manpower and resources as we shape tomorrow’s Air Force. There is not a better person to lead our airmen into the next century of airpower dominance.”
According to AirForce Times, Goldfein has more than 4,200 hours flying the C and D variants of the F-16 Fighting Falcon, the stealth F-117A Nighthawk and the unmanned MQ-9 Reaper, as well as the T-37, T-38 and MC-12W. While flying a combat mission over Serbia in 1999, Goldfein was shot down when his F-16 was hit by a surface-to-air-missile.
Goldfein ejected, and trekked across farm fields, evading enemy patrols, until he was picked up by a rescue helicopter, that then flew into enemy fire, taking five bullets in the fuselage.
In 2007, Goldfein told the El Paso Times that he sends the men who rescued him in Serbia a bottle of “single malt, good quality” Scotch every year as a sign of his gratitude.