Derek Abbey spent 23 years in the United States Marine Corps, serving as an enlisted Marine and an officer, both on the ground and in the air. This included serving as an F/A-18 aviator and in the special operations community. He conducted multiple deployments in the Hornet and holds more combat time in the jet than in peaceful skies. Additionally, he is a plank holder at 1st Raider Battalion and Marine Special Operations Company Delta.
He has been a member of Project Recover for 20 years and currently serves as the President and Chief Executive Officer. Project Recover searches for Americans missing in action (MIA) from our nation’s previous conflicts with the intention of providing answers and closure to Gold Star Families and helping to heal the wounds of war.
Since retiring from the Marine Corps in 2014, Derek has remained committed to serving the military population in a number of capacities. These not only include Project Recover, but also working extensively with military in higher education at San Diego State University and University of San Diego, as well as several military-connected nonprofits.
Derek is an avid outdoorsman. He believes that spending time in the outdoors and nature while maintaining a hardy lifestyle are key elements to physical and mental health. He strives to spend time in the outdoors on a daily basis. This includes trail running, hiking, camping, spending time on the river in multiple ways, birding, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and more.
He studied history at Oregon State University for his undergraduate education while he was an active duty Marine. He holds an M.A. in Higher Education Leadership and a Ph.D. in Leadership Studies from the University of San Diego. Additionally, he holds a credential from Stanford University in Non-Profit Executive Leadership and is a 2019 President George W. Bush Scholar.
He was raised in and around Seattle and today lives in Bend, Oregon, with his wife, Michelle.Back to Alumni Council