Adm. Gortney graduated from Elon College in North Carolina, earning a Bachelor of Arts 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 September 1977, and earned his wings of gold in December 1978.
Gortney commanded on three occasions in the U.S. Central Command area of operations supporting Maritime Security Operations and combat operations for Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom (OIF). These include U.S. Naval Central Command / U.S. 5th Fleet / Combined Maritime Forces, NSA Bahrain, 2008-2010; Carrier Strike Group 10, onboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), 2007-2008; and Carrier Air Wing 7, onboard USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67), 2002-2003. Additional command tours include Strike//Fighter (VFA) Squadron 106, the East Coast FA-18 Fleet Replacement Squadron, Naval Air Station (NAS) Cecil Field, Fla., 1996-1997; and VFA-15, 1994-1995, onboard USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71).
Fleet assignments include Attack (VA) Squadron 82, 1981-1984, onboard USS Nimitz (CVN 68); VFA-87, 1988-1990, onboard USS Theodore Roosevelt; Executive Officer, VFA-132, 1991-1992, onboard USS Forrestal (CV 59); executive officer, VFA-15, 1992-1994, onboard USS Theodore Roosevelt; and deputy commander, Carrier Air Wing Seven, onboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69).
Overseas assignments include deputy for Current Operations, Joint Task Force Southwest Asia, Eskan Village, Saudi Arabia, 1999; chief, Naval and Amphibious Liaison Element to the Combined Forces Air Component Commander, U.S. Central Command, for the opening months of OIF at Prince Sultan Air Base, Saudi Arabia; and chief of staff, Commander U.S. Naval Forces Central Command / U.S. 5th Fleet, Naval Supply Activity Bahrain, 2003-2004.
Shore assignments include Training (VT) Squadron 26, NAS Beeville, Texas, 1978-1980; VFA-125, NAS Lemoore, Calif., 1984-1988; aide and flag lieutenant to the Assistant Chief of Naval Operations (Air Warfare), Washington D.C., 1990-1991; Joint Staff, J-33 Joint Operations Department U.S. Central Command Division, 1998-1999. He is a 1996 graduate of the Naval War College, earning a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies. His first flag tour was as the deputy chief of Staff for Global Force Management and Joint Operations, Fleet Forces Command, Norfolk, Va., 2004-2006. His last assignment was as director, Joint Staff, 2010-2012.
Gortney has flown over 5,360 mishap free flight hours and 1,265 carrier-arrested landings, primarily in the A-7E Corsair II and the FA-18 Hornet. He is authorized to wear the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Navy Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit (four awards), Bronze Star, Defense Meritorious Service Medal (two awards), Meritorious Service Medal (three awards), Air Medal (three awards: Gold Numeral One, two Strike/Flight), Joint Service Commendation Medal (three awards), Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Sea Service Ribbon (8 awards), and the Overseas Service Ribbon (2 awards).