Chaplain Ekstrom hails from Eugene, Oregon, where he attended Northwest Christian College, graduating with a B.A. degree in Pastoral Ministry in 1993. He then earned the Master of Divinity degree from Emmanuel School of Religion in Johnson City, Tennessee, in 1997. While in seminary he was ordained at Union Christian Church, Pennington Gap, Virginia.
He returned to Eugene in 1997 as pastor of Twin Oaks Christian Church and as Adjunct Professor at Northwest Christian College, as well as earning a second B.A. in history from the University of Oregon in 2000.
LTJG Ekstrom came on active duty in 2001, completing the Chaplain Basic Course in April. He then reported to Norfolk, Virginia, as the Command Chaplain of the USS Austin (LPD 4). While on the USS Austin, Chaplain Ekstrom completed a nine month deployment as part of the USS Nassau (LHA-4) Amphibious Ready Group, carrying the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, culminating in the invasion of Iraq in March, 2003.
In July 2003 LT Ekstrom reported to Marine Air Group 31 in Beaufort, South Carolina, where he served as the Assistant Group Chaplain and deployed to Japan. He also completed the F-18 back seat water survival course in Jacksonville, Florida, and became a Fleet Marine Force Qualified Officer.
In April 2006 Chaplain Ekstrom reported as part of the Pre-commissioning crew of the USS New Orleans (LPD-18), preparing the chapel and library spaces for crew move-aboard in New Orleans, Louisiana, and ultimately sailing her to home-port in San Diego, California. In addition to the Chaplain Division and library, he led the ship’s Administrative Division during the voyage to San Diego due to a gapped billet. He also attended the Amphibious Warfare Indoctrination Course at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado and helped establish the new Surface Force Ministry Center at Naval Station San Diego.
The next stop was the Naval Air Station Pensacola chapel, replacing two chaplains and taking both liturgical and non-liturgical Protestant services. In addition to a busy ministry at a large chapel, he provided services at the National Cemetery onboard the NAS. He also offered the invocation for President Barack Obama when he visited in the aftermath of the Gulf Oil Spill.
In 2010 Lt.Cmdr. Ekstrom was selected for a year-long Pastoral Care Residency at Naval Medical Center San Diego, earning 4 units of Clinical Pastoral Education, and in October, 2011, he reported to the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Healthcare Center in North Chicago, IL, a new joint merger of the Naval Hospital Great Lakes and the VA Medical Center North Chicago. There he completed his Doctor of Ministry degree in counseling, and an M.A. in National Security and Strategic Studies (Asia-Pacific Area) from the U.S. Naval War College. While at James Lovell he started an At-Risk Sailor Review Board and a comprehensive suicide prevention program for this new command. His community service program was awarded the Project Good Neighbor award for the Navy Mid-Atlantic region, 2014. His Substance Abuse Recovery Program Spirituality Course was also selected as a “Best Practice” by the Bureau of Navy Medicine Chaplain.
Commander Ekstrom reported next to 1st Marine Logistics Group, Camp Pendleton, CA, serving as the Combat Logistics Regiment-1 Chaplain and supervisory chaplain to 4 subordinate battalion chaplain teams, as well as Deputy Group Chaplain for 1st MLG. At CLR-1 he participated in seven major field exercises in 29 Palms, CA, Yuma, Arizona, and the nation of Oman.
Commander Ekstrom currently serves as Group Chaplain for I Marine Expeditionary Force Information Group (I MIG) in Camp Pendleton, California, where he supervises ministry teams for five subordinate battalions and the General staff. He also serves as the I MEF Deputy Chaplain, and deployed to United Arab Emirites.