Lt. Col. Ethan Waitte took two steps toward Nevada Air Guard commander, Brig. Gen. Glen Martel, snapped to the position of attention, raised his right hand in a sharp salute, and said, “Sir, I assume command.”
Judging by Waitte’s distinguished 24-year career with the U.S. Air Force, it’s no surprise why he was chosen to become the next commander for the 232nd Combat Training Squadron, Jan. 8, 2020.
Waitte, an F-22 pilot with the Air Force, replaced Lt. Col. Justin Galli during a change of command ceremony held at the Las Vegas Readiness Center. Galli was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal for numerous contributions to the organization.
“I appreciate your persistence,” Martel said while talking about Galli’s service. “You ensured the Airmen of the 232nd were taken care of and the foundation was solid for Colonel Waitte to take charge.”
Since taking command of the 232nd, Galli distinguished himself repeatedly throughout his time with the unit. This included his most recent assignment as the adjutant general’s liaison officer to Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, where he worked in support of the state’s COVID-19 health crisis response.
“Opportunities presented to us from others are not based on how well we’ve done so far, but rather how much good we can still provide,” Galli said. “With that said, the trajectory of greatness starts now. I couldn’t be prouder or happier to relinquish this squadron to a person of such high caliber.”
Waitte, whose call sign is “Lefty,” began his career at the United States Air Force Academy in 1996 and was commissioned in 2000. He then spent time as an F-16 fighter pilot, flying about 610 hours during Operation Enduring Freedom.
Upon completing his first tour, Waitte attended the highly prestigious Air Force Weapons School and the initial F-22 Raptor course at Nellis Air Force Base. After graduation he returned to Langley Air Force Base as the 94th Fighter Squadron chief of weapons and tactics. He conducted his second operational tour in 2009 and eventually became an operational test and instructional pilot with the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron at Nellis AFB.
Waitte continued his active duty service until 2012, when he transitioned to the Air Force Reserve as a weapons and tactics instructor. In 2018 he volunteered to support Operation Inherent Resolve as a member of the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing weapons office. In 2020, Waitte was handpicked to serve as the U.S. Air Force Weapons School, director of strategic plans and programs.
Maj. Gen. Ondra Berry, Nevada’s adjutant general, had the honor of swearing Waitte into the Nevada Air National Guard at the Limited Army Aviation Support Facility in Las Vegas on Jan. 5, just three days prior to him taking command of the 232nd.
“I am grateful for the trust and unique opportunity to build upon an organization that will have a significant and positive impact, not only for the Air National Guard, but also for the United States Air Force,” Waitte said. “I accept this challenge of a no-fail mission.”
The 232nd originally stood up in 2007 as an operations squadron to support the Air Force’s MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial platforms. The unit is currently transitioning toward a combat training squadron and integrating into the U.S. Air Force Warfare Center out of Nellis.