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Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps

 

Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps

Headquarters Marine Corps

History of the Rank

The Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps is selected by the Commandant of the Marine Corps to serve as his advisor and as the preeminent and highest ranking enlisted Marine with a protocol equivalency of a three-star general officer.

The Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps typically serves a four-year term, though his service is at the discretion of the Commandant of the Marine Corps.

'Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps' is the full wording of the rank, but the verbal address is Sergeant Major.

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Although not officially considered a Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, Archibald Sommers was appointed to the grade of Sergeant Major on January 1, 1801. It was a solitary post, similar to the modern billet of Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps.

In 1833, an act of legislation made the rank of sergeant major permanent for the Marine Corps. By 1899, five Marines held the rank of sergeant major. The rank was abolished in 1946 and re-introduced in 1954 as part of the Marine Corps rank structure.

The post of Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps was established in 1957 as the senior enlisted advisor to the Commandant of the Marine Corps. It was the first such post in any of the five branches of the United States Armed Forces. The first official Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps was Sergeant Major Wilbur Bestwick.

In 1970, the distinctive rank insignia of the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps was authorized. It features the Eagle, Globe and Anchor flanked by two five-point stars, as opposed to the standard Sergeant Major rank insignia, which has a single five-point star in the center.

 

Find previous Sergeants Major photos at Defense Visual Information.

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Carlton W. Kent 16th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps
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Sgt. Maj. Kent completed recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, S.C., in March 1976 and was assigned to the 1st Marine Brigade. In May 1978, Sgt. Maj. Kent was transferred to Marine Security Guard Battalion where he served as a Marine Security Guard. He served at American Embassy, Kinshasa, Zaire and Panama. In June 1981, Sgt. Maj. Kent transferred to Fort Benning for Airborne School and Parachute Riggers School at Fort Lee, Va. In June of 1982 he was assigned as 2nd Air Delivery Platoon Commander, and parachute rigger billets in various commands aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C.

In February 1983, Sgt. Maj. Kent was transferred to Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, Calif., for duty as a drill instructor, senior drill instructor and battalion drill master with First Battalion. In January 1985, he was meritoriously promoted to Gunnery Sergeant.

In May 1985, Sgt. Maj. Kent transferred to 3rd Air Delivery Platoon as Platoon Sergeant. In June 1986 he transferred to Engineer Company, BSSG-1 1st Marine Brigade, Hawaii, as Company Gunnery Sergeant. In March 1988, Sgt. Maj. Kent was assigned to Noncommissioned Officers School, 1st Marine Brigade as the NCOIC.

In February 1989, Sgt. Maj. Kent transferred to Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, S.C., as a student at Drill Instructor School. After completion of Drill Instructor School, Sgt. Maj. Kent was assigned to Naval Aviation Officers Candidate School in Pensacola, Fla., as a Drill Instructor, Chief Drill Instructor, and First Sergeant. In February 1990, Sgt. Maj. Kent was promoted to First Sergeant and assigned as First Sergeant, MATSG, Pensacola, Fla.

In June 1992, he transferred to 4th Marine Regiment for duty. In June 1993, he transferred to the Army Sergeants Major Academy, Fort Bliss, Texas. After graduation, in February 1994 he was transferred and assigned as First Sergeant, Battery L, 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment. In December 1994, he assumed the duties as Sergeant Major, 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment. In August 1997, Sgt. Maj. Kent was transferred to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, Calif., where he was assigned duties as Sergeant Major 2nd Recruit Training Battalion and in September 1999 as Sergeant Major Recruit Training Regiment.

In May 2001, he was transferred to Marine Forces Europe/FMF Europe, Stuttgart, Germany, where he was assigned the duties as the Sergeant Major of Marine Forces Europe. In April 2004, he was transferred to I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif., to serve as the Sergeant Major of the I Marine Expeditionary Force.

Sgt. Maj. Kent assumed the post as the 16th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps on 25 April 2007 and served in this position until 9 June 2011.

His awards include the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit with Gold Star in lieu of second award, a Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal with Gold Star in lieu of second award, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with Gold Star in lieu of second award, and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with Gold Star in lieu of second award, and the Combat Action Ribbon. He is the recipient of the General Gerald C. Thomas Award for inspirational leadership.

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