Originally from Carpinteria, Calif., Rear Adm. (ret) Purcell graduated from the Naval Academy in 1975. Designated a Naval Flight Officer in 1976, Rear Adm. Purcell completed sea tours with VF-32, VF-84, and VF-154 between 1977 and 1989, deploying with both the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets to the Mediterranean, Pacific, and Indian Oceans.
Subsequent shore duty assignments included Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Four (VX-4), Aviation Community Detailer at the Bureau of Naval Personnel and duty with U.S. Space Command in Colorado Springs, Colo.
In September of 1991, Rear Adm. Purcell became the Executive Officer of VF-114, and in July 1992, the Commanding Officer of VF-111, deploying with both commands to the Persian Gulf. Following his command tour, he attended the Naval War College in Newport, R.I., where he graduated with distinction in November 1994. Upon graduation he was assigned to the initial stand-up of the Command Leadership School in Newport.
Purcell reported to Carrier Air Wing Fourteen in the summer of 1998, and commanded Air Wing Fourteen from October 1999 to November 2000, twice deploying to the Persian Gulf with the Abraham Lincoln Battle Group. In December 2000, he reported to the staff of the Commander, Naval Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet where he ultimately served as the Chief of Staff until September 2002.
His first Flag assignment was as Assistant Commander, Navy Personnel Command, Fleet Support (PERS-6). In April 2004, he reported to the U.S. Transportation Command where his last assignment was as the Director of Strategy, Plans, Policy, and Programs (J5).
Rear Adm. Purcell's personal decorations include the Legion of Merit, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, and the Strike-Flight Air Medal. He holds master's degrees in Systems Analysis from the University of Southern California and in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College.