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Elon alumnus William Gortney '77 is Pentagon spokesman for Operation Odyssey Dawn

Vice Adm. William E. Gortney, director of the Joint Staff at the Pentagon and Elon's Commencement speaker this spring, is serving as the Pentagon's official spokesman for the U.S. military operations in Libya. Gortney held a media briefing on the combat operations on March 19.

Vice Admiral William Gortney holds a briefing at the Pentagon on March 20.

Odyssey Dawn is the U.S. Africa Command task force established to provide operational and tactical command and control of U.S. military forces supporting the international response to the unrest in Libya and enforcement of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973.

In July 2010, President Barack Obama nominated Gortney to serve as director of the Joint Staff at the Pentagon. After his confirmation by the U.S. Senate, Gortney assumed his post, which assists in managing the Joint Staff and reports directly to Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Before his appointment to the Joint Staff, Gortney served as commander of the U.S. Naval Forces in Central Command, and as commander of the 5th Fleet in Bahrain. The post was his third command tour in the U.S. Central Command area of operations, which supports maritime security and combat operations for operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

Following his graduation from Elon in 1977, Gortney entered the Navy as an aviation officer candidate. He received his commission in the United States Naval Reserve in September 1977 and earned his wings of gold in December 1978. During his career as a Navy pilot, Gortney flew more than 5,360 mishap-free flight hours and 1,265 carrier-assisted landings, primarily in the A-7E Corsair II and the FA-18 Hornet.

He has received the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, the Bronze Star and three Meritorious Service Medals, among others, for his outstanding service to the U.S. military.

Gortney will deliver Elon University’s 121st Commencement address on May 21, 2011.

Gortney is a 1996 graduate of the Naval War College, where he earned a master of arts in international security affairs.

Dan Anderson,
3/31/2011 10:59 AM