Rear Adm. Michael Wettlaufer is a native of Alexandria, Virginia. He graduated from Colorado State University with a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology, was commissioned in 1986 and designated a naval aviator in 1988. He also earned a Master of Science in Aviation Systems from the University of Tennessee in 1996 and attended the Naval War College where he received a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies in 2002. Wettlaufer is a Navy Test Pilot School graduate (Class 104) and completed Navy Nuclear Power Training in 2008.
Ashore, Wettlaufer was assigned to Attack Squadron (VA) 42, Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106 for qualification training. He was an aircraft carrier scheduler for Commander, 2nd Fleet; served as a project officer, test pilot and landing signals officer with Strike Aircraft Test Directorate at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland; and was on a Royal Navy Exchange tour in the United Kingdom as an Empire Test Pilots’ School fixed wing tutor and experimental test pilot. He was selected as a Chief of Naval Operations Strategic Studies Group associate fellow (SSG XXI) and served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense as an analyst for the deputy assistant secretary of defense for European and NATO Policy.
He is currently serving as Commander, Carrier Strike Group 3 in Bremerton, Washington. Wettlaufer previously commanded the Dambusters of VFA-195, USS Denver (LPD 9) and USS John C Stennis (CVN 74). He has multiple deployments to the Mediterranean Sea, Indian Ocean and Arabian Gulf with VA-85 and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1 flying the A-6 Intruder from the USS America (CV 66) including Operation Desert Storm. Forward deployed from Japan aboard USS Independence (CV 62) and USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) as a Dambuster department head and CVW-5 operations officer he flew the FA-18C and he deployed to the Pacific as executive officer aboard USS John C Stennis.
Wettlaufer has 3,500 hours flying 49 different aircraft types and over 800 arrested landings on 12 aircraft carriers and conducted developmental Joint Strike Fighter flight control trials aboard HMS Invincible.
He is entitled to wear the Legion of Merit (three awards), the Distinguished Flying Cross (combat V), Defense Meritorious Service and Meritorious Service Medals, individual and strike flight Air Medals (with V) and various other personal, unit and service awards.