Major General William Russell Cotney, USAF Ret.

Major General William Russell Cotney, USAF Ret.

Inducted: November 5, 2016

Major General Russ Cotney retired following 40 years of faithful and honorable service in the United States Air Force on February 6, 2011. His retirement culminated eight years of distinguished service as Commander of the Tennessee Air National Guard. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for Exceptionally Meritorious Service in a duty of great responsibility, approved by The President of the United States, at his retirement ceremony.

A native of Alabama, Cotney earned his commission at Lackland AFB in 1971 and his wings at Laughlin AFB. He graduated from Jacksonville State University with a Bachelor of Science in Personnel Management and received a Masters Degree in Public Administration from Auburn University in 1976.

As Commander of the TN Air Guard, Maj. Gen. Cotney was responsible for command and mission readiness of three flying wings and four support wings with more than 3,600 Airmen and $3.5 billion in equipment and infrastructure. He spearheaded efforts to modernize each base, resulting in more than $360,000,000 for new planes, new missions, increased funding for operations, and construction of new facilities including the new Airlift Wing in Memphis. His exceptional vision and leadership will impact the Air Guard for years to come.

Russ Cotney is a Command Pilot deployed during Vietnam, Operation Joint Guard, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operations Northern and Southern Watch, etc. Among his numerous awards and decorations are the Meritorious Service Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Combat Readiness Medal, Aerial Achievement Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, and NATO Medal. Other accomplishments include Commanding the Regional Air Center in Italy, serving as Advisor to the Air Guard Director, suggesting new avionics for military aircraft later adopted by civilian airlines, etc. Maj. Gen. Cotney chaired the Committee which designed the Terminal Control Area for aircraft at Memphis International Airport. In recognition of leadership in aviation he received the President’s Award from Carnival Memphis.