Sgt. Maj. Chad M. Coston, born in Quantico, Virginia, is a second-generation Marine. He was raised in Louisiana and enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1994 with the expectation of getting out after his first four years were done.
Plans, as they often do, changed. Now he is the sergeant major of Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, making him the senior enlisted advisor to Col. Michael Fitzgerald, commanding officer, MCLB Albany.
"The MCLB Albany team is excited to work with Sgt. Maj. Coston,” Fitzgerald said. “He is a hands-on Marine who sits down with everyone to fully understand all situations. He uses his actions to lead Marines, sailors, soldiers and civilians aboard the base. If he does not fully understand a situation, he seeks out and sits down with the expert to understand the scope and scale of a situation."
He went into recruit training immediately after finishing high school.
“I was actually in delayed entry my entire senior year,” Coston said.
Upon completion of recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Coston attended Assault Amphibian School in Camp Pendleton, California. He was awarded the occupational specialty of assault amphibian vehicle crewman.
His father was the influencing factor in him staying beyond his initial four-year commitment.
“He was a Vietnam Marine radio operator attached to an infantry unit,” the sergeant major said.
He has served in a wide array of duties in the years leading to his current rank to include AAV crewman, crew chief, section leader, platoon sergeant, water survival instructor, martial arts instructor, primary marksmanship instructor, training and readiness chief, personal reliability chief, Inspector-Instructor first sergeant and company first sergeant.
Coston’s assignments as a unit sergeant major include battalion sergeant major of 3rd Battalion 3rd Marines, 1st Battalion 12th Marines, Recruiting Station San Antonio and Marine Aircraft Group-29.
He assumed his current position at MCLB Albany in May.
“The best part of being a Marine sergeant major is the influence I have not only on young Marines, but senior enlisted, officers and senior officers,” Coston said. “They are willing to take what I say and implement it.”
“I am better able to influence decisions that impact younger Marines,” he added.
His career has allowed him to see the world and live through various experiences. This life was what led him to make a commitment to a military life now spanning nearly 30 years.
“I am still having fun,” the sergeant major said. “I have enjoyed deploying and seeing other parts of the world.”
This is not to say Coston never planned for the alternative.
“I had a plan every time I reenlisted to get out,” he said. “I always had a ‘yes’ to the Marine Corps and ‘yes’ from a civilian job. I had control over the decision to get out so I would know what to do when I got out. I eventually choose to stick around.”
His deployments and operational experience include Unit Deployment Program, Korean Marine Exchange Program, 15th MEU, Joint Task Force - El Centro, California, UNITAS 2000, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Cold Response 2022, Norway.
“My last deployment was to Norway and by far the most fun,” Coston said. “I was in a flying unit and had never been to a European theater. It has usually been in the Pacific and the Middle East. Just working with the partners there was amazing.”
Coston plans to outreach to the young Marines who are beginning their military careers at MCLB Albany.
“There is a bigger Marine Corps than in Albany,” he said. “I want to encourage volunteerism and involvement in the local community. The more we have the local community on our side the more the community will do for our service members.”
It is also important, the base’s senior enlisted advisor said, for these junior Marines to appreciate where MCLB Albany stands in the grand scheme.
“It helps the Marines here to understand the role we have as a logistics base,” Coston said. “We support units that support the warfighter. The overseas Marines can’t do what they do without us doing our job.”
Transitioning toward a life after COVID means bringing back more live, full-scale events to MCLB Albany and bringing service members into jobs within the base which have been sitting vacant. This is another one of Coston’s goals.
“We will aim to get people, Marines, back into jobs that have been vacant for a while on the uniform side,” Coston said.
Coston’s background is in operations. His current role is the first in which he is serving baseside, which differs in focus.
“In operations we have a target date, we execute and start over,” he said. “Here, every day is something new and we are always working toward the future.”
A challenge moving forward will be thinking and acting on what MCLB Albany needs to maintain its mission moving forward.
“We are keeping Albany relevant,” the sergeant major said. “We need to get the word out that we are a force to be reckoned with. We are forging into future endeavors.”
A big factor in this may be helping make sure the younger Marines understand how relevant they are to the bigger picture, and for them to know what they do matters.
”My greatest passion and priority is to get young Marines recognized for their efforts, to help them stand out among their peers,” Coston said.
He encourages those early in their military careers, even those still considering active-duty service, to reach for the stars.
“Be humble but get hungry and aggressive with what you want,” Coston said. “Don’t be satisfied with the status quo.”