Rear Adm. Robert D. Westendorff, a native of Paola, Kansas, is a 1992 graduate of Kansas State University. He earned a bachelor's degree in Business Administration focusing on Corporate Finance and commissioned in December 1992 after completing Aviation Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, Florida.
Westendorff was designated a Naval Aviator in April 1995 in Meridian, Mississippi, after flying T-34 Mentor, T-2 Buckeye, and TA-4 Skyhawk training aircraft. His next assignment was Fighter Squadron (VF) 101 at Oceana Naval Air Station, Virginia, for initial training in the F-14 Tomcat.
Westendorff's operational sea assignments include his first deployment with the "Jolly Rogers" of VF-103. His department head tour was with the "Black Aces" of Strike Fighter Attack Squadron (VFA) 41, he commanded VFA-25, the "Fist of the Fleet," and he commanded Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11.
Shore and staff assignments include instructor pilot and plank owner of the "Flying Eagles" of VFA-122, the F/A-18E/F Fleet Replacement Squadron. He completed his joint tour as Deputy Division Chief for Training Plans and Assessments, and Executive Assistant to the Deputy Director of Global Operations at United States Strategic Command, Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. Westendorff completed a Pentagon tour in the Chief of Naval Operations Programming Division (N80). He served as the section head and senior analyst for aviation programming to include the F/A-18, EA-18G, F-35, and other aviation-related programs. He served as chief of staff and Maritime Operations Center director for Commander, Naval Forces Central Command /Commander, U.S. 5th Fleet, and as chief of staff for Commander, Naval Air Forces in San Diego.
Westendorff assumed command of Chief of Naval Air Training (CNATRA) in June 2020. CNATRA comprises nearly 5,000 military and civilian personnel and 700 aircraft across five training wings in three states. CNATRA trains and qualifies more than 1,000 naval aviators and naval flight officers each year for the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Coast Guard, and international partners. CNATRA is also responsible for the Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels.
Westendorff has completed Joint Professional Military Education (JPME) Phase I through correspondence, as well as JPME Phase II in residence at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, earning a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies.
His awards include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, and other personal and unit awards. He has accumulated more than 3,800 flight hours and 900 carrier arrested landings while flying F-14A, F-14B, F/A-18A-F, and EA-18G aircraft.