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Capt. Jennifer Adams is with Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany’s Logistics Support Division. She is the arms, ammunition and explosives officer, giving her responsibility of making sure the base and tenant commands have the weapons and ammunition they need for various ranges, weapons systems testing and real-world scenarios. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Jennifer Parks)

Photo by Jennifer Parks

Marine captain, mother breaking barriers in military career

24 Aug 2023 | Jennifer Parks Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany

Going from food service specialist to a logistics officer and company commander, Capt. Jennifer Adams has grown substantially in her time as a U.S. Marine.

She is not done growing yet.

Adams started off in 2005 as an enlisted Marine working in a food service specialist billet. In 2017, at that time a staff sergeant, she began the transition as a commissioned officer and later earned the military occupational specialty of logistics officer.

“I have been on the logistics track my entire career,” she said. “I have served in units amongst the three major subordinate commands in the Marine Corps, including 2nd Marine Division, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing and 1st Marine Logistics Group and have been serving in logistical roles to the point where I am comfortable with change and complexity.”

Adams is now with Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany’s Logistics Support Division. She is the arms, ammunition and explosives officer, giving her responsibility of making sure the base and tenant commands have the weapons and ammunition they need for various ranges, weapons systems testing and real-world scenarios.

Her job requires her to work with training and operations, public safety, supply, armory and ammunition personnel closely.

“Tied to this role is accountability, ensuring inventories are being completed and standards are being met and upheld,” Adams said. “We support the base and tenant commands, which ultimately impacts the warfighters all over the globe.”

Adams’ hometown is Silver Spring, Maryland, a city of roughly 80,000 people that is a northern residential suburb of Washington, D.C. Her career as a Marine ran concurrently with a journey into motherhood, now having a 16-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter.

“Education, structure, discipline and comradery are the main motivators for me joining the Marine Corps,” she said. “The top one would be the structure piece; I like how the Marine Corps is organized and provides structure as a professional in arms.”

She achieved an associate and bachelor’s degree in business administration and is currently working on obtaining a master’s degree in entrepreneurship. Thanks to the help of active-duty military benefits providing access to programs in advancing service members in their education, she was able to achieve her educational goals.

“I am still seizing the opportunity to use tuition assistance to help with the cost of education,” Adams said. “Education is a huge benefit the Department of Defense and Marine Corps brings, and I encourage all to fully take advantage of it.”

While raising a family, managing to take college classes on her own time and balancing her military career, she had to progress towards her personal and professional goals little by little.

“I was taking classes during deployments and through training exercises,” Adams said. “I knew I needed a four-year degree to be a commissioned officer.”

Her first duty station after basic training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina was Marine Wing Support Squadron-171 located at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan.

There was an office for the University of Maryland Global Campus, formerly known as University of Maryland University College, located at the MCAS Iwakuni education center.

This was the door she put her foot in to get her education started.

“I thought it was fitting there was a college at the education center that I recognized,” Adams said. “The University of Maryland is a 20-minute drive from home.”

She could not get the four-year degree overseas through UMUC Asia as the school only offered two-year degree programs at the time. She eventually received it after returning stateside.

“I took one college course at a time, but I got it done,” Adams said. “I walked the stage in 2017 in College Park, Maryland while I was serving as a staff sergeant in Quantico, Virginia.”

She is now on her second tour since receiving her commission, currently on a set of three-year orders. She’s been in the AA&E officer role the whole tour, with her second year also overseeing 100 Marines while serving as the commander of Headquarters Company, MCLB Albany.

Adams is additionally serving as president of this year’s Marine Corps Ball Committee for the base, a group with a central role in fundraising and organizing the installation’s annual birthday celebration to be held in Albany.

Not only was Adams open to going overseas, but she volunteered at the earliest opportunity. This is what got her to Japan on her first tour.

“I went to a faraway place early in my career, and gained a worldly perspective at 18 years old,” she said. 

Adams has done an exercise on the Korean Peninsula and served at MCRD San Diego and Camp Pendleton, California. In Iraq, while still a food specialist, she served Marines outside of the wire at the forward operating base at Mudyasis during a 2008 deployment.

Adams applied for and attended Officer Candidate School while stationed in Quantico. After graduating OCS and The Basic School she went on to Logistics Operations School in Camp Johnson, North Carolina to earn her current military occupational specialty. She went from there to 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina before reporting to MCLB Albany.

“I’ve been to the Middle East, Japan, East and West Coast,” she said. “The experience has been invaluable. I got worldly experience early and it opened my eyes to other cultures.

“I particularly fell in love with the Japanese culture, food and people.”

Comradery is big deal for a Marine. Growth, and even survival, often depends on it.

“Teamwork is a big piece of it,” Adams said. “You train hard together, learn and build upon on your craft with a team, learn communication skills and adapt as a team in austere environments for combat. You learn about yourself and how to push yourself. Through the hardest experiences you get closer to your brothers and sisters on your left and right.

“You fight and train as a team, and you learn a lot from those who are smarter, stronger and those who have experience. The longer you spend with them, the more you learn what it means to be a leader, and just how important it is to be ready when disaster strikes.”

Grit, strength and leading by example are ways Adams continues to thrive in the Marine Corps. She further recognizes the importance of interacting with Marines from the prior generation.

The latter is critical in maintaining the family embodying the “Semper Fidelis” motto.

“Once a Marine, always a Marine,” Adams said.

Her motivation for embarking on a military career comes from within her family, specifically her grandfather. He served in the Air Force, previously in the Army Air Corps before the Air Force’s official establishment as an independent branch in 1947.

He was a prisoner of war during World War II.

“He was the reason I chose the military. I respected him,” Adams said. “The Marines were the sharpest of the military branches; I looked up to the Marines.”

She looked at multiple career options and was unfulfilled. Until she walked into a Marine Corps recruiting office.

“I have definitely changed and grown up since I was an 18-year-old,” Adams said. “Initially, I was only planning to be in for four years, but I kept going.”

And why did she keep going?

“The Marine Corps has treated me well,” Adams said. “It’s a profession I like. And I am constantly learning and growing. Over time, you find ways to become better at what you do, and that is fulfilling for me to constantly evolve in order to better serve the Corps.

“I like that I can motivate people and help the organization logistically and through leadership. I am in a place that I can influence people, policies and decisions. It is never the same day every day, which is a great environment to be in and to build upon your critical thinking skills of how to handle different scenarios and challenges.”

She wears her Marine hat during duty hours and replaces it with her “Mom” hat at home. Like any Marine officer, it is not something she can achieve alone.

“There are many talented men and women who make it far in their military careers with children. I believe they need a support team to be able to do that successfully,” Adams said.

There is at least one thing every Marine has in common. This is the desire to make a difference outside of wearing the uniform.

“You’ve got to want to be here. It is not about you, but about everyone else,” Adams said. “The higher you go, the less of you there are. You start learning how your decisions impact many and how much responsibility you have and how important it is to make sound ethical choices. You also must find ways that work for you and your family to balance home life with a military career, as both are important.

“I think life experience, growth, experiencing failures, experiencing success, making sacrifices throughout my career and having the right support team has gotten me here.”

Training with the best in the world has granted Adams high-quality, training and lifesaving skills.

“Being a Marine has provided me opportunities such as being able to lead hundreds of people at such a young age, being responsible for millions of dollars worth of gear and equipment and being able to lead multiple convoys,” she said. “There is a feeling of satisfaction when you lead a team that executes a plan you have developed that gets the mission accomplished.”

Adams had the chance to instruct as a faculty advisor for 12 months at a resident Corporal’s Course located at Camp Del Mar while wearing the rank of sergeant in 2011 as a part of the Staff Non-Commisionned Officer Academy at Camp Pendleton. She also ran the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. in 2016.

“At the time Corporal’s Course was a resident school with six platoons in each class that rotated in and out every three weeks for a year,” Adams said. “A highlight in my career is working the Marines and staff at the resident Corporal’s Course, as we had a talented team of instructors with different backgrounds and MOSes. We learned a lot from each other and created a great bond. We led the corporals during course through teaching classes, fitness and our leadership abilities.”

“I value being able to influence people and help them achieve their goals. I am not in the business of keeping knowledge to myself; I am pointing them in the right direction.”

The typical military career often requires fast transitions, improving on the foundations left behind and dipping into new things in the process. It opens the door for self improvement as you mature.

“As you get better, you see how you can improve on things,” Adams said.

Adams said she is planning to do one more tour after she leaves MCLB Albany next year. She’ll be getting her master’s degree and building on her leadership abilities in the meantime.

“I am excited to see what is next, as the future is unknown,” Adams said. “I strive to be in a billet of increased responsibility.

“The Marine Corps is so broad. When you understand what is happening globally, you realize it is much bigger than you. I’m looking forward to having a successful tour after leaving Albany.”

Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany