Graduating Austin College students will receive a commencement address from White House Military Office Chaplain Stan Fornea Sunday morning during the Class of 2012 exercises. The ceremony will be held at 8:30 a.m. on the Clyde L. Hall Graduation Court, north of Caruth Administration Building on the campus.
A former pastor at First Baptist Church of Sherman, Fornea was commissioned a lieutenant in May 1996 and presently is assigned as chaplain for the White House Military Office in Washington, D.C.
Serving now under President Barack Obama, Commander Fornea also was in service during the presidency of President George W. Bush. In Bush’s book “Decision Points,” he wrote of his encounters with Commander Fornea at the base chapel at Camp David.
“Stan believed that the answer to evil was freedom,” the former president wrote. “He also knew there would be a cost. ‘There has never been a noble cause devoid of sacrifice,’ he said in one sermon. ‘If freedom is worthy of defense only to the point it costs us nothing, then we are in desperate need as a nation.’ Above all, Stan was an optimist, and his sense of hope lifted my spirits.”
Fornea is an ordained minister in The Episcopal Church in the United States of America. He served as pastor at First Baptist Church of Sherman from 1991 to 1994. He has professional sub-specialty codes in the areas of homiletics and ethics. The Louisiana native’s professional education includes a Bachelor of Arts degree in social studies/history from Southeastern Louisiana University, a Master of Divinity degree from New Orleans Seminary, a Master of Theology degree from Duke University and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Vanderbilt University.
Fornea’s awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Navy Unit Commendation, Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Battle E and other campaign and service awards.
Fornea’s military career began after 12 years in parish ministry, including pastorates in Mississippi and Sherman. After commissioning, he reported to the Chaplain’s School in Newport, Rhode Island. Upon graduation, he reported to Naval Support Activities in London, England, serving from May 1996 to August 1999. His first operational tour was with the U.S. Marine Corps from August 1999 to September 2002 with Marine Aircraft Control Group 28, Cherry Point, North Carolina. Following his Marine tour, Fornea was assigned as command chaplain aboard the USS La Salle, Sixth Fleet Flag Ship, home ported in Gaeta, Italy, from September 2002 to August 2004.
Following post graduate school at Duke University, Fornea was selected for presidential support duty as command chaplain at Naval Support Facility in Thurmont, Maryland, the presidential retreat at Camp David and served from June 2005 to January 2009.
After service at Camp David, Fornea served as the deputy command chaplain for Multi-National Forces, Iraq, stationed at Camp Liberty and the International Zone, Baghdad. Upon his return he was selected as the first chaplain ever assigned to the White House Military Office.