Gardner Honors Admiral Gortney’s Distinguished Career on Senate Floor

Commander of NORAD and NORTHCOM to Retire After 39 Years of Service

Washington, DC – Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) today took to the Senate floor to honor Admiral Bill Gortney who will retire on June 1, 2016 after 39 years of service to our nation. Most recently, Admiral Gortney served as commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command and United States Northern Command, headquartered at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs.

Click here to watch Senator Gardner’s remarks.

Remarks as prepared for delivery:

Mr. President, I rise today to recognize and commend Admiral William “Bill” E. Gortney, who will retire on June 1, 2016, after 39 years of exceptional leadership and service to our country. 

Most recently, he served as commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command and United States Northern Command, headquartered at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs. 

In his current capacity, Admiral Gortney is responsible for homeland defense, defense support for civil authorities, and theater security cooperation with Mexico and the Bahamas. 

Additionally, as head of the bi-national NORAD command with Canada, he is responsible for aerospace warning, aerospace control, and maritime warning in the defense of North America.  

It has been a tremendous pleasure to work closely with Admiral Gortney since joining the Senate. In particular, as the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia and the Pacific, I have often sought his advice and counsel to gauge the threat of North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs to the U.S. homeland.  

Born to William and Gloria Gortney in La Jolla, California, Admiral Gortney is no stranger to military service. Admiral Gortney is a second generation naval aviator. 

His father retired as a Captain from the Navy in 1970, after 28 years of service that included time in World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam War. 

Admiral Gortney received his wings of gold in 1978 at Naval Air Station Beeville, Texas, and began an illustrious career as a naval aviator under the call sign “shortney.” 

Admiral Gortney has completed numerous successful fleet and staff assignments, both in the U.S. and abroad. His first opportunity for command was on board the USS Theodore Roosevelt from 1994-1995. 

From there, he has amassed an impressive resume of command experience, including three command tours 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. 

These assignments included commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command / U.S. 5th Fleet / Combined Maritime Forces, Bahrain; commander of Carrier Strike Group 10, on board the USS Harry S. Truman; and commander of Carrier Air Wing 7, on board the USS John F. Kennedy.

His first flag tour was as the deputy chief of staff for Global Force Management and Joint Operations, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, Norfolk, Virginia. 

More recently he served as director of the Joint Staff, then commanded, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, prior to taking command at NORAD and USNORTHCOM. 

Admiral Gortney has flown over 5,360 mishap-free flight hours on the Corsair II and F/A-18 Hornet and completed 1,265 carrier-arrested landings. 

His military decorations include:

  • The Defense Distinguished Service Medal - two awards
  • Navy Distinguished Service Medal - two awards
  • Defense Superior Service Medal
  • Legion of Merit - four awards, and 
  • Bronze Star, among many others. 

From other nations, his military decorations include:

  • The French National Order of the Legion of Honor Award
  • The Bahrain Medal, First Class
  • The Secretary of the National Defense for Mexico Military Merit 1st Class Medal, and 
  • Secretary of the Mexican Navy Naval Distinction 2nd Class Medal.

Mr. President, Admiral Bill Gortney’s unique combination of operational experience, charismatic leadership, and unyielding patriotism have served him well in a lifetime of military service. 

Today, we honor his admirable service to our Nation and all the airmen, sailors, soldiers, marines, and civilians, who have served alongside him. 

We offer our heartfelt appreciation to Bill, his wife Sherry, their children, Stephanie and Billy, daughter-in-law Jackie, and grandchildren, Gavin and Grayson for all of their sacrifice and support to our country. 

On behalf of the Senate and a grateful nation I congratulate him on a job well done and wish him the best as he begins a hard-earned retirement.

Thank you, Mr. President, I yield the floor. 



Cory Gardner is a member of the U.S. Senate serving Colorado. He sits on the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee, and the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee, and is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy.

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