Rear Adm. Endel Lee is a native of Tanner Williams, Alabama. He earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Mobile (1985). He then earned a Master of Divinity (1990), Master of Religious Education (1998) and Doctor of Philosophy degree (2000) from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Lee was commissioned in the Navy Reserve in 1993, after serving eleven years in the Marine Corps Reserve, both as an enlisted member and as an officer.
Upon joining the Marine Corps in 1982, Lee served with 3rd Force Reconnaissance Company, 14th Marines Artillery units and two tours with 4th Reconnaissance Battalion; one as executive officer, A Company and one as commanding officer, C Company.
In 1993, Lee was commissioned as a chaplain in the United States Navy Reserve. His Navy Reserve tours include F-18 and C-130 Squadrons, Marine Air Group 41, 4th Marine Air Wing; Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 22; District 8, United States Coast Guard (USCG); officer in charge, Marine Expeditionary Fleet Religious (MEFREL) Support Unit, MEFREL Pacific (PAC) Det. A; officer in charge, USCG Religious Support Unit 106/deputy chaplain of the United States Coast Guard for Reserve Matters; deputy force chaplain, Marine Forces Reserve; deputy force chaplain, Navy Region Southwest; deputy chaplain of the Marine Corps for Reserve Matters at the Pentagon; and as the 4th Marine Division chaplain—the nation’s largest Marine division.
Lee was first recalled for Operation Guarding Liberty following attacks on New York City, September 2001. He deployed in 2005 as director of Protestant Worship and battalion chaplain in support of II Marine Expeditionary Force for Operation Iraqi Freedom. Upon his return home in August 2005, the Chaplain of the Coast Guard requested he be transferred to a Coast Guard assignment following landfall of Hurricane Katrina. He served another eleven months on active duty supporting rescue and recovery operations along the Gulf Coast.
In 2008, Lee mobilized again with Naval Special Warfare Development Group as the deputy command chaplain supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. He transferred to a follow-on mobilization as deputy force chaplain, Marine Forces Reserve until September 2010. In October 2012, Lee deployed for 14 months as Director, Office of Religious Affairs for Combined Joint Task Force, Horn of Africa in Djibouti. From August 2015 to August 2016, he accepted a mobilization to 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve in New Orleans, Louisiana.|
Lee is authorized to wear the Navy Gold Parachutists Insignia, Navy Scuba Diver Insignia and the Fleet Marine Force Chaplain Insignia. His personal awards include Defense Meritorious Service Medal (two awards), Meritorious Service Medal (four awards), Navy Commendation Medal (two awards), USCG Commendation Medal with “O” device (four awards), Department of Transportation 9-11 Medal, Navy Achievement Medal (three awards), USCG Achievement Medal, Army Achievement Medal and various other service medals. In 2010, he was recognized as the Reserve Officers Association “Chaplain of the Year.”
An ordained Southern Baptist minister, Lee has been a senior pastor, associate pastor, interim pastor, seminary professor, director of Pastoral Care and Counseling in a hospital setting and National Coordinator of Disaster Spiritual Care for his denomination (2006-2012). Currently (2014 – present), he leads initiatives for planting churches near military installations to support the spiritual needs of military communities.