Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey A. Young, sergeant major, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, a native of Baltimore, enlisted in the Marine Corps on May 24, 1991. He gained a lot in the years that followed.
Now it is time to move on to the next chapter and retire.
“It is exciting, but it brings up a little bit of anxiety,” Young said as he is nearing his retirement. “For 30 years this is the only occupation I have done. The reality is setting in of closing a chapter and starting the unknown.”
Sgt. Maj. Auburne I. Edwards II is coming in as MCLB Albany’s sergeant major. He previously served as the sergeant major of Headquarters Battalion, 3rd Marine Division in Okinawa, Japan.
After Edwards takes the reins, Young expects to re-connect with family and friends. He is moving with his family to South Carolina proud his family is still intact.
“The military can be brutal,” Young said. “Unfortunately, I have seen a lot of folks make it to the finish line and celebrate alone because relationships have not been able to endure.”
“We are often told the Marine Corps is our top priority, but you have to balance responsibilities as a father, wife and parent and still make your family feel like they are a priority,” he added.
Young is also walking into retirement having earned an associate degree and bachelor’s degree, and after witnessing the Marines he mentored rise up in the ranks.
“It is humbling to be able to see Marines I have mentored over the years at the pinnacle of leadership roles,” Young said. “They are now gunnery sergeants and master sergeants counseling junior Marines who will replace them.”
“It has been phenomenal. I take pride in doing things the right way, being approachable and willing to listen. It builds confidence that Marines, corporal or colonel, can knock on your door,” he continued. “I have seen how that type of leadership builds healthy relationships and builds confidence in a unit.”
Young came up in high school as a three-sport athlete. His ambition was to stay in that lane.
“My vision was to go to school and play Division 1 football,” he said. “A friend of mine was a third-generation Marine. One day on the way home we stopped by a recruiting office. My friend and I decided to join the Marine Corps. We joined the Marine Corps to make ourselves better.
“We signed up for the buddy system, shipped out and 30 years later here I am,” he added.
And he is leaving his post in a good place for his successor to pick up where he is leaving off.
“I am taking the ball and moving it down the field,” Young said. “I have worked to assess field relationships and make things better before I leave. I feel I have accomplished that.”
This includes building up Marines as they move up the ladder. He departs with both feet on the ground ready to take on what life has in store for him next.
“I have left a positive impact, not just where I am at now, but other organizations I have been to, in helping younger Marines in their personal accomplishments,” Young said. “I leave very humbled with the opportunities the Marine Corps has given me.”
“I leave in good physical and mental health, and that is definitely a plus,” he added.
Staff Sgt. Danette Williams, now with Marine Corps Logistics Command aboard MCLB Albany, has known Young since she was a corporal and he a first sergeant. They crossed paths again from 2015-2018 while the two served in Okinawa.
While Young did not serve as Williams’ sergeant major, he did play a significant role in her professional development.
“I was at a time in my career (in Okinawa) where it felt certain challenges were getting the best of me. The path had become unclear and I wasn’t certain I could manage everything,” she said. “I was able to regain focus and condition myself with his assistance and encouragement. He helped me bloom when I did not see myself blooming.”
Williams, who is a parent, also received support from Young’s wife in helping to balance her military duties and personal life. She said Young made sure, while in Okinawa, that she and her daughter did not spend the holidays alone on a foreign land by inviting them in.
Upon her arrival in Albany, Young checked in with her again to make sure she was settled.
“He had a huge impact on me as a Marine,” Williams said. “He was super positive, very genuine and very concerned.”
After the commitment he has shown to other Marines, Williams said she wishes Young the best.
“I hope that he is able to find the transition he desires,” she said. “What he is able to bring to the table would be a valuable asset anywhere. I wish him nothing but the best. His impact as a leader will certainly continue.”
“His reputation and character stands out on its own,” she added.
Edwards met Young in 1999 playing football together at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. They were classmates in Drill Instructor School shortly afterward, and did their first tour together.
“We were in the same battalions side-by-side for three or four years,” Edwards said.
They have remained in touch since then, staying within the same circles. It has not been uncommon for Edwards to be coming in somewhere as Young is leaving the same place.
“When I knew I would be the one replacing him, we communicated,” Edwards said. “I have big shoes to fill; he is a phenomenal leader.”
Not only have Edwards and Young been connected on social media, but their families know each other and have traveled together.
That is not a relationship Edwards sees going away after Young hangs up his Marine Corp uniform.
“We have become more and more family over the years,” Edwards said. “I think we will always remain friends.”
This helps Young to know he is leaving his post in good hands.
“He has been a family friend for 20 years,” the outgoing sergeant major said. “He is very sharp, very intelligent and very well-spoken. I have no doubt he will do great things not just for the base but for the Albany community.”
Young attended recruit training at Marine Corp Recruit Depot Parris Island in South Carolina. He attended Marine Combat Training at the School of Infantry (East) at Camp Geiger, North Carolina. This was followed by the Communication Center Operators and the Satellite Communications Operators Course at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, California.
Young spent several years and subsequent tours with both 7th Communications Battalion in Okinawa and 8th Communications Battalion at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina where he served as satellite communications operator, team leader, platoon sergeant and section chief. In September 2001, Young reported to Drill Instructor School at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island where he was assigned to 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, Fox Company and served as a drill instructor, senior drill instructor, series chief drill instructor, martial arts instructor and martial arts instructor trainer.
Young reported to Marine Air Control Squadron 2 in Cherry Point, North Carolina in January 2005 where he served as communications chief. He deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In May 2007, Young reported to 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines where he served as company first sergeant, Company L and Headquarters and Service Company. He deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit.
Young’s second of those deployments was an experience which defined him.
“It kind of defined the type of leader needed under chaotic conditions,” he said. “It made me truly understand the importance of non-commissioned officers and how effective they can be employed. I gained a newfound respect for Marines and what they are able to accomplish.”
Young reported to Marine Corps Engineer School in April 2010 and served as company first sergeant for Utilities Instruction Company and Combat Engineer Instruction Company. In May 2012, he reported to First Supply Battalion at Camp Pendleton in California to assume the role of battalion sergeant major.
In July 2014, Young reported to Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa where he served as squadron sergeant major. He reported to Headquarters and Support Battalion at Marine Corps Base Camp Foster in Okinawa in April 2015, serving as the Headquarters and Support Battalion sergeant major. He served as sergeant major for both Camps Foster and Lester.
In February 2017, Young reported to the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, II Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Lejeune. He served as the sergeant major for 26th MEU.
Young reported to MCLB Albany in July 2019.
There are things Young expects to miss about his last duty station and the Marine Corps as a whole.
“I will miss everything about the people (at MCLB Albany). The environment is different because the workforce is mainly civilian,” he said. “The community welcomed my family with open arms.”
“From the Marine Corps, I will miss the routine,” he added. “You get used to things like hearing the colors at 0800, hearing the Marines doing formation, things like that. Once you leave those are the little things that you miss.”
Young gave parting remarks to the MCLB Albany community as well as the Marines he leaves behind.
“Always remember: ‘One Team, One Fight,’” he said. “We are all here to do one job. The best way to do this is to work together vice against each other.”
To the Marines, Young said: “Never forget why you joined the Marine Corps. Never let anyone get in the way of accomplishing your goals. Above all else, have fun.”
“When we say time passes you by, it definitely does. If you are going to invest in an organization, you might as well be having fun doing it,” he added.
Col. Michael Fitzgerald, commanding officer, MCLB Albany, worked two tours with Young.
“He is a great friend, mentor and coach,” Fitzgerald said. “He told me what I needed to hear, not what I wanted to hear. The impact he has had on Marines will stick around for years to come.”
The commanding officer said the outgoing sergeant major had a unique way of looking at things, and that his leadership will be missed.
“He’s got big shoes to fill, but Sgt. Maj. Edwards is more than capable of filling those shoes,” Fitzgerald said. “Every Marine is unique in who they are.
“After 30 years, Sgt. Maj. Young will be spending time with his family; he has earned that right,” the colonel added. “I will miss his candor. That’s what I will miss the most.”
Taking the opportunity to provide guidance for potential Marine recruits, Young outlines who the Corps is best suited for.
“The Marine Corps is not for everyone,” he said. “If someone is looking for a challenge, a family organization that will implement structure while serving in the nation, in my opinion, the Marine Corps is best to fulfill those aspirations.”
Young’s personal awards include the Meritorious Service Medal with three gold star in lieu of fourth award, the Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medal with one gold star in lieu of second award, Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal with two gold stars in lieu of third award and Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal.