Contractors working for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District install a 23-foot-tall concrete shaft enclosure weighing approximately 120,000 pounds as part of the guard wall at the Monongahela River Locks and Dam 4 in Charleroi, Pennsylvania, Nov. 16, 2023.

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Brothers build careers on parents’ employment legacies

Nashville District Public Affairs
Published Dec. 23, 2022
(Front Row Left to Right) Linda Lee, Cindy Lee, Jerry Lee, and (Back Row Left to Right) R. Gerald Lee and Mike Lee, pose for a family photo. All but Cindy have served lengthy careers with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District. (Courtesy Photo)

(Front Row Left to Right) Linda Lee, Cindy Lee, Jerry Lee, and (Back Row Left to Right) R. Gerald Lee and Mike Lee, pose for a family photo. All but Cindy have served lengthy careers with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District. (Courtesy Photo)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Dec. 23, 2022) – The Lee brothers are trailblazing dual careers with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District. But they are also building on the employment legacies of their parents, who both retired honorably and set an endearing example of service for their sons.

Mike and Jerry Lee joined the Nashville District in 1991. With 30 years of service of their own, they both give credit for joining the organization to their parents, who both served and retired from the Corps of Engineers.

Their dad R. Gerald Lee began serving in the late 1960s as a park ranger at J. Percy Priest Lake in Nashville, Tennessee, and later at Center Hill Lake in Lancaster, Tennessee. He spent the most time at Cordell Hull Lake in Carthage, Tennessee, before and after the construction of the dam. Before retiring, he also served as the resource manager at Martins Fork Lake in Smith, Kentucky.

“I was too small to remember much but he told me he planted a lot of pine trees around J. Percy Priest Lake,” Jerry recalled. “He transferred to Cordell Hull around 1971 before the powerhouse and dam were completed and worked with Real Estate to survey government property lines for the new lake.”

Mike and Jerry both attended the dedication of Cordell Hull Dam Oct. 13, 1973, when their father supported the event. They both recall seeing Tricia Nixon Cox, daughter of President Richard M. Nixon, and Country Music Sensation Dolly Parton. It is estimated about 2,000 people attended the dedication, according to an Associated Press report.

“I mostly remember Dolly’s blond hair,” Mike said about the dedication.
Mike said he also remembers being evacuated from his home in Carthage, Tennessee, when floodwaters reached the steps of the house in the early 1970s.

“When I was young, Dad would occasionally let me ride with him during the summer when he drove around the lake. He covered a lot of ground and knew every road in the area,” Jerry added.

Their mom Linda Lee joined the Nashville District in the 1980s as an administrative specialist for the Engineering Division Technical Services Section when her boys were teenagers. She later transferred to Construction at Center Hill Dam, and then to Emergency Management at the district headquarters. She then served as a computer assistant in the Hydraulic and Hydrology section, and then moved to Cordell Hull Dam where she finished her career as an admin in the Powerhouse.

Jerry said his dad deployed in the 1970s to support the Indiana blizzard and for Hurricane Fredric. His mom deployed five times, providing computer and database support for disasters in Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida and New York.

Mike has already deployed 11 times and Jerry eight times in support of disasters.

“Mike and I deployed together once in 1998 to a flood in Ohio,” Jerry noted. “We ended up working on the same damage survey team.”

Jerry said the family has supported deployments for decades because emergency response allowed them to help people when they needed it most.

“I got the chance to deploy on disaster duty in 1993 and enjoyed that so much I volunteered for several more deployments over the next decade,” Jerry said. “Some folks lose everything during a disaster except the clothes on their backs. Being able to help them and their communities rebound is a feeling that’s hard to describe. I realized the government does some really hard but important things that are either impossible or unprofitable for the private sector to achieve. I like helping people and decided this was the place for me.”

Jerry began his work as an engineering coop student from Tennessee Tech. After graduation, he joined full time as a mechanical engineer in the Design Section assembling operation and maintenance manuals for the Eastern Kentucky Flood Protection Project. He worked on various design projects including pump stations, water supply upgrade for the Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery, and gate operating machinery for the Kentucky Lock Addition Project. In 2005, he transferred to the Construction Division to work on hydropower rehabilitation projects. He is currently serving as the chief of the Civil Design Branch Hydropower Section.

Jerry said he really loves his work in support of hydropower generation, which provides cheaper green energy to the region.

“When my children were small and asked what I did at work, I would point to the light switch and tell them I have a very small but important part in making the light come on when you flip that switch,” Jerry said. “Almost everyone uses electricity, and I’ve always found it very rewarding that I get to help add power to the electrical grid.”

Mike has served stints in the Floodplain Management Section, Planning Branch, Design Branch, and Construction Division. He is currently a civil engineer project manager in the East Tennessee Resident Engineer Office in Knoxville, Tennessee.

He said he made the Corps of Engineers a career because of the opportunity to support disasters, satisfaction from seeing his designs constructed, and from administering contracts for the U.S. Department of Energy at Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

Getting their foot in the door with the Corps of Engineers in 1991 and making it a career is still something that came from discussions at the supper table growing up, they stressed.

“As a family we had a unique view and knowledge of the Corps since us kids were in it from a very early age,” Mike said. “I don’t have any memories where the Corps Castle was not a part of our family and it has always seemed familiar,” Jerry added.

There are more than 700 employees that support missions in the Nashville District. Some work alongside family members or are following in the footsteps of their parents because they get job satisfaction from supporting projects that are meaningful and important to the region and nation.

Federal employees currently enjoy work/life enrichments that include flexible, responsive work environments supportive of commitments to community, home, and loved ones. They also enjoy pay and leave allowances, including paid federal holidays, training opportunities, and access to retirement, health, and survivor benefits.

The Nashville District routinely advertises its job opportunities on, and also posts them on its public LinkedIn page. The public is encouraged to follow the LinkedIn page for the latest Nashville District employment and contracting opportunities at

The public can also obtain news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District on the district’s website at, on Facebook at and on Twitter at

Chick Lock

Through deeds, not words, we are BUILDING STRONG®