Colonel Michael James Willen is Commander of the United States Air Force Academy Band, Peterson Space Force Base, Colorado. He is responsible for organizing, training, equipping and deploying 60 Airmen in 10 different musical configurations throughout a nine-state region of more than 869,000 square miles in addition to supporting the U.S. Air Force Academy’s recruiting mission throughout the 48 contiguous states. The band performs over 400 missions annually that support U.S. Air Force and U.S. Air Force Academy outreach and engagement priorities to increase public understanding of the importance of airpower, the dedication and sacrifice of Airmen, and to build relationships that enhance the reputation of the Air Force as a respected, professional organization charged with an integral role in maintaining U.S. national security.
A native of Marion, Ind., Colonel Willen was raised in Yuma, Ariz. He graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Music Education degree from the University of Arizona in 1991. During that same year, he was selected by audition for the graduate program in Wind Conducting at Northwestern University. After completing his Master of Music degree at Northwestern in 1992, Colonel Willen became the Director of Band Organizations at Canyon del Oro High School in Tucson, Ariz. In 1999, he earned the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Wind Conducting from the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music. Prior to joining Air Force, Colonel Willen served as the Director of Bands at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and was principal conductor of the NewEar Contemporary Music Ensemble. He earned his commission from Officer Training School in March 2001. Prior to his current position, Colonel Willen was the Commander, U.S. Air Force Band of Mid-America, Headquarters Air Mobility Command, Scott Air Force Base, Illinois.
1991 Bachelor of Music Education degree, Magna Cum Laude, University of Arizona, Tucson, Ariz.
1992 Master of Music in Wind Conducting, Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill.
1999 Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Wind Conducting, University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music, Kansas City, Mo.
2001 Officer Training School, Holm Center for Officer Accessions and Citizen Development, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.
2002 Aerospace Basic Course, Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.
2006 Squadron Officer School, Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.
2013 Air Command and Staff College, Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.
2013 Master of Military Operational Art and Science, Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.
2019 Air War College, by correspondence, Air University, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
1. March 2001 – March 2003, Deputy Commander, USAF Band of the Golden West, Travis Air Force Base, Calif.
2. March 2003 – September 2005, Deputy Commander, The USAF Academy Band, Peterson AFB, Colo.
3. September 2005 – September 2007, Squadron Section Commander, The USAF Band, Bolling AFB, D.C.
4. October 2007 – July 2009, Commander, USAF Heartland of America Band, Offutt AFB, Neb.
5. July 2009 – July 2012, Commander, USAF Band of the Pacific, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska
6. August 2012 – June 2013, Student, Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
7. June 2013 – September 2014, Director of Operations, The USAF Band, Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, D.C.
8. October 2014 – July 2016, Chief, Air Force Bands Division, Office of the Secretary, Air Force Public Affairs, Pentagon, Washington, D.C.
9. August 2016 – July 2020, Commander, USAF Band of Mid-America, Scott AFB, Ill.
10. August 2020 – Present, Commander, The USAF Academy Band, Peterson SFB, Colo.
MAJOR AWARDS AND DECORATIONS:
Meritorious Service Medal with four oak leaf clusters
Air Force Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters
Air Force Achievement Medal with one oak leaf cluster
National Defense Service Medal
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
2007 Member, 11th Wing Team of the Year
2008 Air Combat Command Outstanding Band Company Grade Officer
2008 Air Combat Command Public Affairs Company Grade Officer of the Year
2009 National Band Association Citation of Excellence
2009 John Philip Sousa Foundation's Colonel George S. Howard Citation of Musical Excellence for Military Concert Bands - USAF Heartland of America Band
2013 Member, Joint Base Andrews Team of the 4th Quarter
2013 Member, 11th Wing Squadron of the Year
2017 John Philip Sousa Foundation's Colonel George S. Howard Citation of Musical Excellence for Military Concert Bands - USAF Band of Mid-America
2018 Air Mobility Command Public Affairs Field Grade Officer of the Year
2019 Air Mobility Command Outstanding Communication Field Grade Officer
EFFECTIVE DATES OF PROMOTION:
Second Lieutenant – 2 March 2001
First Lieutenant – 2 March 2003
Captain – 2 March 2005
Major – 1 November 2010
Lieutenant Colonel – 1 March 2016
Colonel –1 June 2022
Current as of 1 July 2022