Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Larry Spencer, a prior enlisted airman who became an officer in 1980 and worked up to be a four-star general, is retiring, the Defense Department announced.

Lt. Gen. David Goldfein, currently the director of the joint staff at the Pentagon, will replace Spencer in the position.

Spencer has served as the Air Force's No. 2 since July 2012 and previously served in staff positions at the Pentagon.

Goldfein has been selected for his fourth star. He is a career fighter pilot who previously commanded U.S. Air Forces Central Command and was the director of operations for Air Combat Command. He has flown more than 4,200 hours in the T-37, T-38, F-16C/D, F-117, MQ-9 and MC-12.

In 1999, then Lt. Col. Goldfein flew a mission in an F-16 hawk to destroy surface-to-air-missile sights in Serbia when he was hit by an SA-3 missile, forcing him to eject into enemy territory. Goldfein was rescued by pararescuemen and A-10 forward spotters in a dramatic mission. Goldfein, a 1983 graduate of the Air Force Academy, is a recipient of the distinguished flying cross with an oak leaf cluster.