Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps


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.


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.

Previous Sergeants Major of the Marine Corps

17th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps
Micheal P. Barrett

Micheal P. Barrett was born in Niagara Falls, N.Y., and raised in Youngstown, N.Y.

He enlisted in March 1981 and underwent recruit training at 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, Delta Company, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, S.C.

In November 1981, Private First Class Barrett completed Infantry Training School at Camp Lejeune, N.C. He was ordered to 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, Twentynine Palms, Calif., for duty. He served in a variety of billets from Grenadier to Platoon Sergeant.

Sergeant Barrett was transferred in August 1984 to Inspector-Instructor duty with 2nd Battalion, 25th Marines, New Rochelle, N.Y. Outside of his primary duties as an infantry instructor, he was assigned numerous support duties to include; Armorer, Nuclear Biological Chemical Noncommissioned Officer, and Training Chief.

In September 1987, Sergeant Barrett was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines where he assumed the responsibilities as Platoon Sergeant of the Surveillance Target Acquisition Platoon. During the Gulf War he deployed forward with Task Force Papa Bear.

In April 1992, Staff Sergeant Barrett received orders to Drill Instructor School, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, Calif. Upon completion of Drill Instructor School, he was assigned to Company F, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, as a Drill Instructor, Senior Drill Instructor, and Chief Drill Instructor. In January 1994, he was selected as the Battalion Drill Master of 2nd Recruit Training Battalion.

In January 1995, Gunnery Sergeant Barrett was assigned to Scout Sniper Instructor School, Quantico, Va., as the Chief Instructor.

In September of 1996, Gunnery Sergeant Barrett was transferred to Marine Security Company, Camp David, Presidential Retreat, for duties as the Company Gunnery Sergeant and liaison to the United States Secret Service.

Upon completion of his tour at Camp David, First Sergeant Barrett was transferred to 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines, Twentynine Palms, Calif., where he assumed the duties as India Company First Sergeant from August 1998 until April 2000. He was then assigned to Headquarters and Service Company from April 2000 to March 2001. His tour culminated as the Senior Enlisted Leader of Weapons Company from March 2001 to June 2002.

Sergeant Major Barrett was then assigned to Recruiting Station Cleveland, Ohio, from July 2002 until May 2005, as the Recruiting Station Sergeant Major.

Sergeant Major Barrett was transferred to 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines in May 2005, where he completed two combat deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (04-06.2 and 06-08.1) in the Al Anbar Province, Iraq.

From October 2007 to May 2009, Sergeant Major Barrett was assigned as the sergeant major of Officer Candidates School, Quantico, Va.

Sergeant Major Barrett was selected as the 1st Marine Division Sergeant Major and took his post in June 2009. In December 2009, he assumed the duties as I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) Sergeant Major, and deployed to Operation Enduring Freedom (10.1/10.2) in March 2010. During this deployment, he also became the NATO Regional Command (Southwest) Command Sergeant Major for Nimruz and Helmand Province, Afghanistan. He turned over the 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) and Regional Command (Southwest) in March and April 2011.

Sergeant Major Barrett assumed his post as the 17th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps on June 9, 2011, and served in this position until February 20, 2015.

His personal awards include the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal with combat “V” and gold star, Meritorious Service Medal with gold star, Navy Marine Corps Commendation Medal with combat “V” and three gold stars, Navy Marine Corps Achievement Medal with two gold stars, Combat Action Ribbon with gold star, and the Presidential Service Badge.

Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps