RENO, Nev. - A formal change of command ceremony for Air Force Col. Terry Fornof, the new commander of the Nevada Air National Guard, took place Feb. 12, at the Reno Air Guard Base here.
Though he assumed his position in mid-January, and now commands more than 1,100 High Rollers in Indian Springs, Las Vegas and Reno, it all began with a simple phone call.
"I was a traditional Guardsman in Louisiana and really wanted to find a way to get back to Nevada, so I cold called Maj. Gen. Tony Clark, the state’s adjutant general," Fornof said.
At the time, Guard leadership believed Air Force F-15 Eagles would be turned over to the Guard, and Nevada wanted a piece of the action.
"I told him I have a vision of bringing Eagles to the Silver State, and I was welcomed to the team," he said
It wasn’t just the persuasive conversation that convinced Nevada Guard leadership to make Fornof a High Roller; he also brought a great deal of experience.
By 2000 he had recorded 14 years with the active duty flying five types of aircraft on three continents, and three years as a Louisiana Guard member, he was the chief of weapons and tactics at the 159th Fighter Wing in New Orleans and was the F-15 weapons council lead for the Guard.
In his civilian occupation he worked for a defense contractor on helmet-mounted queuing systems at Nellis Air Force Base.
Fornof went to work with the Nevada Air Guard developing a Total Force Integration unit with the Air Force Warfare Center at Nellis, and helped the Nevada Guard acquire a few fighter pilot slots and paving the way for a better total force enterprise between Nellis and the Guard.
When it became clear that the Nevada Guard’s reconnaissance history and expertise, dating back to RF-101 Voodoos in the 1950s, was a better fit for the burgeoning remotely piloted aircraft mission set, Fornof set his sights on MQ-1 Predators.
In 2004, Nevada Detachment 1 was established, flying and maintaining MQ-1s, and it was a true total force enterprise unit with the 432ndWing at Creech Air Force Base. The unit grew and later transitioned into the 232nd Operations Squadron, and now also pilots MQ-9 Reapers.
Fornof continued to rise in the Nevada Guard and at the warfare center. He became the deputy group commander for the 57th Adversary Tactics Group, the chief of advanced testing tactics and procedures at the warfare center and a year ago moved into the acting director position of the joint staff at the Nevada Guard.
"Col. Fornof brings a wealth of experience into his position as the new leader of the Nevada Air Guard," said Nevada adjutant general, Air Force Brig. Gen. Bill Burks. "I am charging him with the responsibility to continue to lead this organization to even higher readiness standards and prepare it to accomplish the future missions of the state and the nation."
"In years past, the entire Air Force reconnaissance community knew about the High Rollers because they won photo competition after photo competition," Fornof said. "We’re now a more diverse organization with C-130s, a total force enterprise with Nellis and Creech, and an unmatched intelligence squadron."
"There may not be competitions for all of those, but I want Airmen to receive recognition for a job well done," he said.
"The Nevada Air Guard has the people and the drive to be the best. It’s my job to make that happen."