Retired Nov. 1, 1993.
Lieutenant General Gordon E. Fornell is commander of Electronic Systems Division, Air Force Systems Command, Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass.
General Fornell was born in 1936, in Chicago and graduated from Maine Township High School, Des Plaines, Ill., in 1954. He received a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from Michigan State University in 1958 and a master of business administration degree from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, in 1978. While at Michigan State University, the general was a member of the 1957 Big Ten Conference championship swim team. He completed Squadron Officer School in 1963 and Air War College in 1973.
He was commissioned as a second lieutenant through the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps program and entered active duty in October 1958. He received his initial pilot training at Moore Air Base, Texas, and Greenville Air Force Base, Miss., from November 1958 to November 1959. In June 1960 he completed F-86L fighter-interceptor training at Perrin Air Force Base, Texas. He then was assigned to B-52 combat crew training at Castle Air Force Base, Calif., and, upon completion in December 1960, served as a combat crew member at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash.
From August 1965 to September 1966 the general attended the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. He then transferred to the Bomber Branch, Office of the Deputy for Flight Test, Aeronautical Systems Division, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, as a test pilot, conducting numerous system tests on a wide variety of aircraft.
In August 1968 General Fornell transferred to the 56th Special Operations Wing at Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, as chief of the Current Operations Division. While there he flew 200 combat missions in A-1 Skyraiders. He was one of the original members assigned to the 22nd Special Operations Squadron, Zorros.
He returned from Southeast Asia in August 1969 and was assigned to the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base as the C-5A Galaxy joint test force operations officer and chief of the Bomber and Transport Operations Division. During his three years there, he served as the project pilot and manager of many varied flight tests, including the C-5A Category II Program.
Upon graduation from Air War College in June 1973, the general was assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C., as chief, Aeronautical Systems Division, Directorate of Development and Acquisition, until January 1977. In this capacity he was responsible for most of the aircraft development programs, including the F-15, B-1, F-16 and A-10, and for technology-based programs involving aircraft equipment, life support and turbine engines.
General Fornell became vice commander of the 436th Military Airlift Wing, Dover Air Force Base, Del., upon graduation from the Wharton School in May 1978. The wing's mission was to provide strategic airlift with C-5A's for worldwide support of contingency and emergency operations, in addition to normal channel airlift.
In January 1980 he was assigned as KC-10 program director for the Air Force Acquisition Logistics Division, Air Force Logistics Command, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. He had total program management responsibility for acquisition and support of the entire KC-10 system. General Fornell returned to the Pentagon in July 1981 as deputy director of development and production on the Air Staff. The directorate was responsible for programs that included aircraft, propulsion, avionics, armament and electronic combat systems. He also served on the program review committee that formulates the Air Force budget.
In October 1982 General Fornell became special assistant for intercontinental ballistic missile modernization matters, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Research, Development and Acquisition, at Air Force headquarters. In July 1985 he assumed command of the Armament Division at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The Armament Division is responsible for development, testing and acquisition of conventional munitions for the Air Force. He became the senior military assistant to the secretary of defense in January 1987. In that position he assisted and advised the secretary on the full range of defense responsibilities and national security matters. He assumed his present command in September 1988.
The general is a command pilot with more than 6,000 flying hours in more than 40 types of aircraft. His military decorations and awards include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross with two oak leaf clusters, Meritorious Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, Air Medal with 11 oak leaf clusters, and Air Force Commendation Medal. He also wears the Basic Parachutist Badge and the Missile Crew Member Badge.
He was promoted to lieutenant general Oct. 1, 1988, with same date of rank.