Sgt. Maj. Auburne Edwards II, native to the metro Atlanta area, was on his way to Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island a week after his high school graduation in 1996. His mother was working overtime to support the family, and Edwards was looking for a way to take some worries off her plate.
Edwards had a grandfather in the Navy and an uncle in the Air Force. He was led to the Marines after a recruiter connected with him.
“The recruiter gave me his card. He was the only recruiter who said anything to me,” Edwards, now the sergeant major for Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, said.
The leadership he encountered in the Marine Corps persuaded him to stay in active duty. Now, 25 years later, he finds himself following in similar footsteps.
“In the beginning it was great leaders,” Edwards said. “As a corporal, I had a leader who convinced me to stay. It is very inspirational to be a mentor. It is great to be a mentor to those from all walks of life.
“I am still having fun with what I am doing, training my ‘replacements,’ leaders in military and civilian life.”
After recruit training Edwards later went to Marine Combat Training, and then to Supply Warehouseman School in Albany, Georgia. The school is now located at Camp Johnson, a satellite camp of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina.
This is his second tour at MCLB Albany.
“His reputation precedes him,” said Col. Michael Fitzgerald, commanding officer, MCLB Albany. “He is very hands on, and a people person. He would rather talk in person vice email or phone.”
“He likes to understand what is going on before making a decision.”
The commanding officer describes Edwards as a “great professional, and a unique ability to connect with Marines on a personal level.” Fitzgerald said, when it comes to Edwards’ mentorship role, the sergeant major makes an effort to approach young Marines one-on-one. Part of serving in the Marines is working hard to personify Corps values.
“He knows when to laugh and joke, and balance when being extremely serious,” Fitzgerald said. “He tells you what you need to hear.”
Edwards came onboard as MCLB Albany is in the process of transitioning into a data-driven age.
“He will be a great asset to have aboard,” the colonel said. “He is already asking tough questions and making a difference.”
Edwards was assigned to 3rd Supply Battalion, 3rd Force Service Support Group in Okinawa, Japan in December 1996 where he served as a driver in the shipping section for the Supply Automated Support System Management Unit. In January 1998, he reported to 2nd Supply Battalion in Camp Lejeune where he served as the battalion legal chief.
Edwards was assigned to 3rd Supply Battalion, 3rd Force Service Support Group in Okinawa, Japan in December 1996 where he served as a driver in the shipping section for the Sassy Management Unit. In January 1998, he reported to 2nd Supply Battalion in Camp Lejeune where he served as the battalion legal chief.
He was promoted to corporal in March 1998 and assigned to Combat Service Support Detachment 69. He participated in Humanitarian Operations in Nicaragua, South America. He requested a lateral move upon completing his first enlistment to become a unit level switchboard operator. He attended school at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, California and graduated with honors.
He received orders to Communication Company, 2nd Force Service Support Group, now known as 2nd Marine Logistics Group, at Camp Lejeune. He served as the group color sergeant during his tour there.
Edwards reported in October 2001 to Drill Instructor School and upon graduation reported to Echo Company, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, where he served as a drill instructor and senior drill instructor training more than 2,200 Marines. He was meritoriously promoted to staff sergeant on July 2, 2003 and assigned as drillmaster for 2nd Recruit Training Battalion.
He received orders in July 2005 to 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune to serve as the battalion wire chief. He deployed with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in December 2005.
Edwards later attended the Wire Chiefs Course, distinguishing himself as the honor graduate when he completed the training. He returned to his command and assumed the duties as company gunnery sergeant for Headquarters and Service Company. This made him responsible for the accountability of the company and ensuring it was logistically ready for the next deployment.
Edwards joined a military transition team in January 2007, deploying in support of OIF to work hand-in-hand with the Iraqi Army to provide them a better understanding of the armed forces and how to better serve their country. He received orders after returning from deployment to report to Headquarters and Service Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 35 in Okinawa to serve as the regimental wire chief.
He was promoted to gunnery sergeant in December 2007. He was the H&S Company gunnery sergeant following his promotion and assumed the role of H&S Company First Sergeant a year later.
Frocked to the rank of first sergeant in March 2011, Edwards received orders to the oldest post in the Marine Corps, 8th & I Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C. He served as the Bravo and Alpha Company first sergeant. In January 2014, he received orders to 4th Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company were he became the Inspector-Instructor first sergeant.
The highlight of his career in the Marine Corps was during his time as a first sergeant, while witnessing a historical event.
“I was a part of a ceremony for the Montford Point Marines during which they received the Congressional Gold Medal,” Edwards said. “It was the most surreal moment, knowing what they went through establishing the foundations for change and being a part of that.”
He received orders in January 2016 to 1st Battalion, 11th Marines were he served as the Headquarters Battery first sergeant. He was selected for the rank of sergeant major in November 2016 and received orders to 1st Maintenance Battalion.
In July 2019 Edwards was assigned to be the sergeant major of 3rd Law Enforcement Battalion, 3rd Marine Information Group. He reported to 3rd Marine Division, Headquarters Battalion for duty as the battalion’s sergeant major in June 2020.
He assumed his current role in April of this year.
Edwards has met with local and education dignitaries since becoming MCLB Albany’s sergeant major. He was struck by their commitment to the Albany community.
Edwards has something in common with the region’s educational leaders. He has fulfillment in bringing up the next generation.
“I really enjoy mentoring youth, and coaching them,” the sergeant major said. “There are a lot of opportunities for that. We have been asked to take part in fairs and readings at the elementary schools, and we are involved with Mentors in Action.”
From mentorship to everyday activities, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has not stopped the commitment to the Marine Corps mission and southwest Georgia community.
“We are not just blaming COVID, but figuring out how to do it to better with what the pandemic has taught us,” Edwards said. “That is an example of what good leadership can do.”
MCLB Albany is a unique in that it is small enough for the Marines to fit into the civilian crowd.
“Some people here don’t know we have a base in Albany. At other stations and cities people know exactly what you do,” Edwards said. “Here we can fit into the normal population, which is good.”
“We are also a closer community, smaller community,” he added. “We do tie in differently than at some bigger bases. We employ more civilians, and we are pulled in and treated more like family.”
His goal at the end of the day goes back to the role model and mentorship duties to his young Marines.
“I want to ensure a re-connection when it comes to mentorship and events,” Edwards said. “I want to get that back on track; make sure people know we are here.”
His mother inspires his counsel to those coming in behind him: surround yourself with good people.
“It is probably one of the most important things I had to learn,” the sergeant major said. “It will drive you to make good decisions. They will give you goals, give you motivation.”
“They are going places, so you will be going places as well.”
Edwards' personal awards include the Meritorious Service Medal with two gold stars in lieu of a third award, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with three gold stars in lieu of a fourth award, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with gold star in lieu of a second award and the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal.