Lt. General Gordon “Gordy” Fornell, USAF Retired, nominated By Van Fuller, Mid-Bay Bridge Authority, is well known in Northwest Florida and is widely respected for the significant contributions he makes to the Niceville Valparaiso area. His vast military experience and knowledge is matched only by his credibility, influence, and ability to bring people together for a common good.
Born in Chicago, Illinois, General Fornell earned 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 he was a member of the 1957 Big Ten Conference championship swim team.
General Fornell has a wide range of operational and test experience. He has flown over 50 types of aircraft, logged over 7,000 hours of fly time, wears parachute wings and is a Certified Level III program manager.
He has received numerous decorations and awards including: 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 the Air Force Commendation Medal. He also wears the Basic Parachutist and the Missile Crew Member Badges.
General Fornell served in senior acquisition leadership positions in Air Force Systems Command and Air Force Materiel Command which included two commands; one as Commander, Armament Division at Eglin from 1985-1987 and second as Commander, Electronic Systems Center at Hanscom from 1988-1993. These organizations developed and acquired all non-nuclear munitions and communications, command and control, and intelligence systems for the Air Force.
He retired in 1993 as a three-star general and after traveling to almost every corner of the world he settled with his wife, Barbara, in Bluewater Bay. He currently serves as Chairman of the Mid Bay Bridge Authority and the Air Force Armament Museum Foundation. He is also the Vice Chairman of the Fisher House of the Emerald Coast Board and serves as the Vice Commodore of the Eglin Yacht Club.
He is an active member of Niceville Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee, Emerald Coast Military Affairs Council, Enterprise Florida, Defense Support Initiative of the Okaloosa County Economic Development Council, University of West Florida President’s Council, a life-time member of the Air Force Association, and adviser to Florida’s Great Northwest.
General Fornell has led 5 visits to Washington, DC advocating for military personnel, families and veterans in Northwest Florida. He is also the founder of the Gate-to-Gate Run at Eglin Air Force, a 33 year old Memorial Day Weekend tradition where runners place flowers at the Veterans’ Memorial along the route in honor of those who served.