Col. Joshua D. Wiitala is the deputy commander of the 28th Bomb Wing, Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota. He serves as the second in command of the largest B-1 combat wing in the United States Air Force, with more than 12,000 active-duty military members, civilian employees, and family members.

Col. Wiitala received his commission through the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps at the University of Washington in 2003. Following graduation, he served in a variety of operational assignments to include duties as a C-17 and B-2 Instructor Pilot. He completed a joint assignment at Headquarters United States Strategic Command (J8), Offutt AFB, Nebraska, as an Advanced Bomber Capabilities Chief, focused on developing future capabilities for the nation’s bomber force.

Following his joint assignment, he commanded the 509th Operations Support Squadron at Whiteman AFB, Missouri, leading 220 Airmen across eight flights responsible for providing intelligence support, aircrew flight equipment, scheduling, weather services, air traffic control, airfield management, and mission planning support to the 509th and 131st Bomb Wings. Additionally, Col. Wiitala served as a National Defense Fellow at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government where he held positions in the Project on Managing the Atom and the International Security Program. Prior to his current assignment, Col. Wiitala served as a Deputy Division Chief at Headquarters Air Force (A10), working on sustainment and modernization programs across the Air Force’s Nuclear Command, Control, and Communications portfolio.


2003 Bachelor of Arts, Political Science, Seattle Pacific University, Seattle, Wash.
2009 Master of Arts, Diplomacy, Norwich University, Northfield, Vt.
2010 Squadron Officer School, Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.
2015 Master of Arts, Military Operational Art and Science, Air University, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
2017 Joint and Combined Warfighting School, Joint Forces Staff College, Norfolk, Va.
2022 National Defense Fellowship, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.


1. July 2003-August 2004, Student, Joint Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training, Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas
2. August 2004-January 2005, Student, C-17 Pilot Initial Qualification Training, Altus AFB, Okla.
3. January 2005-July 2007, C-17 Pilot, Squadron Tactics Officer, 6th Airlift Squadron, McGuire AFB, N.J.
4. July 2007-July 2010, C-17 Instructor Pilot, Executive Officer, 517th Airlift Squadron, Elmendorf AFB, Alaska
5. July 2010-July 2014, B-2 Instructor Pilot, Flight Commander, 13th Bomb Squadron and Assistant Director of Operations, 509th Operations Support Squadron, Whiteman AFB, Mo.
6. July 2014-June 2015, Student, Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
7. June 2015-June 2017, Chief, Advanced Bomber Capabilities, US Strategic Command (J8), Offutt AFB, Neb.
8. June 2017-January 2019, Inspector General, 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman AFB, Mo.
9. January 2019-March 2019, Director of Operations, 509th Operations Support Squadron, Whiteman AFB, Mo.
10. March 2019-April 2021, Commander, 509th OSS, Whiteman AFB, Mo.
11. April 2021-July 2021, Chief, Commander’s Action Group, 509th BW, Whiteman AFB, Mo.
12. July 2021-June 2022, National Defense Fellow, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.
13. June 2022-July 2023, Deputy Chief, NC3 Division, Headquarters Air Force (A10), Pentagon, Va.
14. July 2023-Present, Deputy Commander, 28th Bomb Wing, Ellsworth AFB, S.D.


1. June 2015-June 2017, Chief, Advanced Bomber Capabilities, USSTRATCOM J8, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.


Rating: command pilot
Flight hours: More than 2,800 hours, including more than 245 combat hours
Aircraft flown: B-1, B-2, C-17, T-1, T-37 and T-38


Defense Meritorious Service Medal
Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters
Air Medal
Air and Space Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster
Joint Service Achievement Medal
Air and Space Achievement Medal with oak leaf cluster


2014 General Curtis E. LeMay Award, “The Most Outstanding Bomber Aircrew in the Air Force”


Second Lieutenant June 22, 2003
First Lieutenant June 22, 2005
Captain June 22, 2007
Major Nov. 1, 2013
Lieutenant Colonel Oct. 1, 2017
Colonel April 1, 2023

(Current as of May 2024)