Adm. William “Bill” E. Gortney ’77 set to retire

The 39-year Navy veteran recently commanded the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command.

After a lustrous career that spanned 39 years, U.S. Navy Adm. William “Bill” E. Gortney is set to retire June 13 during a ceremony aboard the USS George Washington.

The retirement comes a month after Gortney passed command of the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command to Gen. Lori Robinson during a May 13 ceremony. He assumed that post December 2014.

Gortney graduated from Elon with degrees in history and political science in 1977. He entered the Navy as an aviation officer candidate, received his commission in the United States Naval Reserve in 1977 and earned his wings of gold the following year.

On three different occasions, Gortney commanded forces in the U.S. Central Command area of operations, providing support to Maritime Security Operations and combat operations for Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. In addition, he has flown more than 5,360 mishap-free flight hours and completed 1,265 carrier-arrested landings. He is been honored with the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Navy Distinguished Service Medal (twice), Defense Superior Service Medal and Bronze Star, among others.

During the May 13 change of command ceremony, Gortney was praised for his leadership in peace and war. “As commander of NORAD and NORTHCOM, Admiral Bill Gortney has been instrumental in forging a stronger coordination and deeper connection with both our Mexican and Canadian neighbors,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter said. “Bill, as you transition from this command, you can take comfort in knowing that NORAD and NORTHCOM are now in the hands of another proven strategic leader, warrior and diplomat: General Lori Robinson.”

In return, Gortney thanked all the soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, Coast Guard members, civilians and shipmates he encountered during his time with NORAD and NORTHCOM. “I wish to thank each and every member of the NORAD and NORTHCOM team, and I want to really thank their families for the sacrifices and contributions each of them make,” he said. “While we wear the cloth of our nation, it is the families that are the very stitching that hold that cloth together.”