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By John Mizerak

Carlton W. Kent, 16th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps

Sgt. Maj. Kent has had a varied and distinguished career serving our nation in the United States Marine Corps. His career began in 1976 at the recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, S.C. After graduation he served with the 1st Marine Brigade, the American Embassy, Kinshasa, Zaire and Panama, attended Airborne School and followed on to 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 throughout Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Sgt. Maj. Kent served at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, Calif as a drill instructor, senior drill instructor and battalion drill master with First Battalion and was meritoriously promoted to Gunnery Sergeant in January 1985. Transferring to Hawaii’s 1st Marine Brigade, he served as a Platoon Sergeant and Company Gunnery Sergeant before transferring to become the NCOIC of the brigade’s Noncommissioned Officers School.

From 1988 to 1992 Sgt. Maj. Kent served as Drill Instructor, Chief Drill Instructor, and First Sergeant before transferring to 4th Marine Regiment, where he was eventually selected for the Army Sergeants Major Academy, Fort Bliss, Texas. After graduation he served as First Sergeant, Battery L, 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment. He served in Sergeant Major billets with 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment and Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, Calif. and with the 2nd Recruit Training Regiment.

In May 2001, he served as the Sergeant Major of Marine Forces Europe and was transferred in 2004 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 many 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, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with Gold Star, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with Gold Star, and the Combat Action Ribbon. He is the recipient of the General Gerald C. Thomas Award for inspirational leadership.

After visiting a Virginia Mighty Oaks Men’s Legacy Program in 2016 he became a vocal advocate for Mighty Oaks, joining the Advisory Board later that year and is an active supporter of Mighty Oaks around the country.