Korean War Legacy Project

William Gortney


William Gortney volunteered for the Navy in 1942 to fight in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.  In 1943, he was commissioned graduated from flight school in 1945 to fly the F6F Hellcat and was one of the first pilots to transition to jets.  While aboard the USS Valley Forge and flying on the wing of the Carrier Air Group Commander, William Gortney was the second American Navy pilot to cross the 38th parallel after the start of the Korean War.  His mission was to destroy runways, airbases, tanks, trains, and other transportation tools.  While serving on the staff of the Commander of the US 7th Fleet from 1960-1962, William Gortney was able to see all that Korea has accomplished after the Korean War. He is joined in his interview with his son, who also is an officer in the navy.

Video Clips

Gortney's involvement at the beginning of Korean War

William Gortney was on the carrie, the Valley Forge, when the Korean War broke out. His plane was one of the first Navy jets in combat and the second plane to cross the 38th parallel at the beginning of the Korean War. He saw combat very early in the war at Pyungyang.

Tags: Panmunjeom,Pyungyang,Front lines,North Koreans

Share this Clip +


The Importance of Airpower

Captain William Gortney's mission was to anything moving south in order to protect UN ground forces. He performed low attacks with little air battles with the North Koreans and Chinese. He is able to explain how important the airpower was during the war.

Tags: Panmunjeom,Chinese,Front lines,North Koreans

Share this Clip +


Inchon Landing

William Gortney's first mission was to take out oil tanks at the Inchon air field before the Inchon landing started. During the landing, William Gortney provided air cover for soldiers who were landing. He explains that the biggest problem in that area was the tides.

Tags: 1950 Inchon Landing, 9/15-9/19,Incheon,Front lines,Living conditions

Share this Clip +


Life on a Korean War Carrier

William Gortney explains what life was like on the aircraft carrier. He shares that they used a straight deck in order to land on the carrier, which varies from how it is done today. There were 5 barrier cables that were used to catch planes that missed the deck hook.

Tags: 1950 Inchon Landing, 9/15-9/19,Incheon,Front lines,Living conditions

Share this Clip +