This is the first in a series of articles profiling the Marines working aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany.
Twenty-eight years ago, Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Young did not envision himself being in a significant leadership position within the Marine Corps. He was expecting to do his four years and move on.
Now at the tail end of his military career, he is able to look back on the opportunities provided to him while mentoring young Marines working their way up in the ranks.
Young serves as the sergeant major for Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany. A native of Baltimore and the oldest of four children, he is married with a daughter, 25, and son, 12.
He got into the Marine Corps by way of a friend.
“Growing up, I didn’t know anything about the Marine Corps or have aspirations of joining the Marines,” Young said. “I knew a third-generation Marine who was a friend of mine; I ended up in a recruiter’s office by means of taking a ride home from him.”
Young’s plans to pursue football were set aside.
“In the end, my friend and I decided to join the Marine Corps to get out of Baltimore City and make something of ourselves,” he said. “Four years turned into 10 years, to 20 years to 28 years.”
Young said the Corps becomes a family in that an individual can find a place where they belong, and others can sense a purpose in them that the person may be unable to see in themselves.
“As you move through the ranks, give something to someone who has paved the way for you,” Young said. “To be in a position to advise and be successful and provide for my family … I am energized to continue to wear the uniform.”
A couple of the Marines who helped bring Young up are still in contact with him today. Young said these Marines motivated by example, or “walked the walk and talked the talk” by demonstrating 24/7 leadership.
This style of leadership means, the sergeant major said, to praise good things, have the courage to call out something that is wrong and help to correct a problem.
Young’s advice to those he has a responsibility to guide is to not accept failure when challenges happen.
“Doing this job is a marathon, not a sprint,” he said. “I always set myself around people with the same goals I had, and it paved a path for me to be in the position to shape amazing warfighters.”
Young went home almost every weekend during the early days of his career and did not envision how his career would evolve.
He spoke with a Navy veteran when he was considering leaving, and the veteran expressed to Young regret about his decision to leave. Young was then encouraged to take a close look at his friends and gauge their trajectory.
His friends often spent their free time drinking and partying in the city.
“When I do go home to visit family and friends, they are doing the same thing,” Young said. “I decided to stick around and re-enlist, and had no thoughts of getting out after then.”
Young said serving is a privilege, one that is not to be taken lightly.
“Take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself,” he said.
A large part of Young’s day consists of rounds to check in on Marines, and to see how he can be of assistance. He will touch base with Marine Corps Community Services in order to connect with young Marines and their families and help them to resolve issues.
“My number one purpose is to take care of Marines,” he said. “We are letting them know we care about them at the end of the day. I have an open door policy for them to speak to me about anything.”
Young serves as the senior enlisted advisor, and right-hand man, to Col. Alphonso Trimble, commanding officer, MCLB Albany. Young taking on the duties involved with looking after young Marines allows Trimble to focus “up and out” while serving in his commander post.
“It frees the C.O. up to command this unit and perform the role as the installation commander,” Young said.
Marines want to be heard as much as anyone else does, so they need someone who will sit down and listen to them, Young said.
“I assist them with opening the door and helping them to accomplish what they see as being important,” Young said. “I help them to accomplish their goals and aspirations. If I can do that, that is success in my book.”
The opportunities for advancement, networking and meeting goals is what Young said has kept him in the Marine Corps for 28 years.
“There is a limitless amount of opportunities,” he said.
Anyone who decides to join should have no illusions about how hard it is. Over time, Marines grow and mature into individuals who can be of greater value when they leave the Corps and go into the civilian sector.
“The Marine Corps is physically and mentally tough, and goal driven,” Young said. “These are some of the attributes that define what the Marines are.”
Young’s proudest point in his career was his first deployment, which ended with as many personnel as it started with.
“I took 245 Marines out and was able to bring all 245 home alive,” he said.
Young has two years left before he retires, and is currently working toward his bachelor’s degree. His next role will be a high school JROTC instructor in Florida.
“I am a little excited,” he said. “I am about to close out a chapter I have dedicated the majority of my adult life to.”
ABOUT SGT. MAJ. YOUNG
Young enlisted in the Marine Corps on May, 24 1991. He attended recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C. the following November and was assigned to Bravo Company, 1st Recruit Training Battalion. Upon completion of recruit training, he attended Marine Combat Training at the School of Infantry East at Camp Geiger, N.C. Following the completion of MCT, Young attended the Communication Center Operators and the Satellite Communications Operators Course at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, Calif.
After completing his military occupation specialty training, Young spent several years and subsequent tours with both 7th Communications Battalion in Okinawa, Japan and 8th Communications Battalion at Camp Lejeune, N.C., where he served as satellite communications operator, team leader, platoon sergeant and section chief. He participated in several training and contingency exercises.
In September 2001, Young reported to Drill Instructor School at MCRD Parris Island. Upon completion of D.I. School, he was assigned to 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, Fox Company. He served as a drill instructor, senior drill instructor, series chief drill instructor, martial arts instructor and martial arts instructor trainer.
Young reported in January 2005 to Marine Air Control Squadron 2 at Cherry Point, N.C., where he served as communications chief. He deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In May 2007, Young reported to 3d Battalion, 2d Marines, where he served as company first sergeant for Company L and Headquarters and Service Company. He deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit.
Young reported to Marine Corps Engineer School in April 2010, serving as company first sergeant for Utilities Instruction Company and Combat Engineer Instruction Company. He reported in May 2012 to First Supply Battalion at Camp Pendleton, Calif. and served as the battalion sergeant major.
Young reported to Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa, Japan, in July 2014, where he served as squadron sergeant major. In April 2015, he went to Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Base Camp Foster in Okinawa where he served as the Headquarters and Support Battalion sergeant major.
In addition, he served as camp sergeant major for camps Foster and Lester. In February 2017, Young then reported to the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, II Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Lejeune, where he served as sergeant major for 26th MEU.
Young reported to MCLB Albany in July 2019, where he officially assumed his current billet two months later.
Young’s personal awards include the Meritorious Service Medal with three gold stars in lieu of a fourth award, Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medal with one gold star in lieu of a second award, Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal with two gold stars in lieu of a third award and the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal.