Retired Oct. 1, 1985.
Major General William A. Gorton is commander of 16th Air Force, U.S. Air Forces in Europe, with headquarters at Torrejon Air Base, Spain. He is responsible for U.S. Air Forces located in Spain, Italy, Greece and Turkey.
General Gorton was born in 1933, in Providence, R.I. He graduated from Cocoa (Fla.) High School in 1952 and entered Georgia Institute of Technology. The general received a bachelor of arts degree in economics from the University of Nebraska, Omaha, in 1968 and a master of arts degree in business from Auburn (Ala.) University in 1969. He completed Squadron Officer School in 1962 and was a distinguished graduate of Air Command and Staff College in 1969, both located at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. General Gorton graduated from the Canadian National Defence College, Kingston, Ontario, in 1972.
The general entered the Air Force as an aviation cadet in February 1954. He received his wings and commission in June 1955 and was assigned as an F-100 pilot with the 479th Tactical Fighter Wing at George Air Force Base, Calif. In August 1958 he was assigned as an F-100 pilot with the 49th Tactical Fighter Wing at Etain Air Base, France, and moved with the wing to Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, in August 1959. During his three year tour of duty with the wing, he spent 18 months performing temporary duty with a Headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe special training team. As the team weapons officer he flew many missions with Turkish and Danish air force fighter squadrons.
He returned to the 479th Tactical Fighter Wing at George Air Force Base as an F-104 flight commander in October 1961. During this period he attended Squadron Officer School. In June 1964 General Gorton was selected by the commander of the Tactical Air Command to be a forward air controller with the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Ky.
In August 1965 he went to the Republic of Vietnam as air liaison officer for the 1st Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division. While there he flew 171 combat missions in O-1E Bird Dog forward air control aircraft.
Returning to the United States in March 1966, General Gorton was assigned as a staff officer in fighter operations at Headquarters Tactical Air Command, Langley Air Force Base, Va. While there he received his degree from the University of Nebraska. He also was integrated into the Regular Air Force and was selected to attend Air Command and Staff College. He received his master's degree from Auburn University while attending Air Command and Staff College.
From July 1969 to September 1971, he served at Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C., as an action officer in the Europe-North Atlantic Treaty Organization Branch of Plans and Policy. He was then assigned as a student to the Canadian National Defence College. After graduation in August 1972, the general was again assigned to Air Force headquarters as executive officer for the deputy chief of staff, plans and operations.
In November 1973 General Gorton joined the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., as director of operations. In July 1974 he became the wing's deputy commander for operations and in January 1976 was assigned as vice commander of the wing. He took command of the 602nd Tactical Air Control Wing at Bergstrom Air Force Base, Texas, in June 1976. In August 1977 he was named deputy assistant chief of staff, operations, for control and support, at Tactical Air Command headquarters. He held this position until August 1978 when he became commander of the 31st Tactical Fighter Wing, Homestead Air Force Base, Fla.
The general was named commander of Tactical Training Luke at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., in January 1980 and in December 1980 the organization was redesignated the 832nd Air Division. He returned to Langley Air Force Base as Tactical Air Command's deputy chief of staff for plans from April 1981 until October 1982 when he became director of operational requirements, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Research, Development and Acquisition, at Air Force headquarters. He assumed his present duties in June 1984.
General Gorton is a command pilot with more than 4,500 flying hours. His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster, Combat Readiness Medal and numerous service awards.
He was promoted to major general Oct. 1, 1982, with date of rank June 1, 1979.