Apr. 29—ALBANY — Sergeant Major Jeffry A. Young passed the sword of office to Sergeant Major Auburne I. Edwards II on Thursday. Following this exchange, a retirement ceremony was held for Young, signaling an end to his 29 years of service in the United States Marine Corps.
The rank of Sergeant Major is the highest enlisted rank in the Corps. The non-commissioned officers holding that rank generally serve as the commanding officer's senior enlisted advisor. They handle matters of discipline and morale of the enlisted Marines and are the go-to person for officers and enlisted men.
Interestingly, the career paths of the two sergeant majors who were a part of Thursday's ceremony crossed in 2001 when they were both stationed at Parris Island, S.C., where they completed Drill Instructor School. Upon graduation from the school, they were assigned to the 2nd Recruit Training Battalion. Young entered the school as a staff sergeant, and Edwards was promoted to that rank while stationed there in 2003. During the ceremony, both men acknowledge the impact that their friendship and the role of mentor and protégé had on their careers.
Young, a native of Baltimore enlisted in the Corps on May 24, 1991. Following his recruit training at Parris Island, he went on to Military Combat Training at Camp Geiger, N.C. From there, he went to the Air Ground Combat Center at 29 Palms, Calif., completing training in Communications Center Operations and Satellite Communications Operation.
Private first-class Young would spend several years and tours with the 7th Communications Battalion in Okinawa, Japan, and Camp Lejeune, N.C. During this period, he would serve as satellite communications operator, team leader, platoon sergeant, and section chief and would be promoted to the rank of staff sergeant.
In 2001, he would report to Parris Island, where he served as drill instructor, senior drill instructor, martial arts instructor, and martial arts instructor trainer. During this tour, he would be promoted to the rank of gunnery sergeant.
In 2005, York reported to Marine Air Control Squadron 2 at Cherry Point, N.C. From there he was deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and promoted to the rank of first sergeant during his tour. He would be redeployed in 2007 again in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit.
In 2010, Young reported to Marine Corps Engineer School serving as company first sergeant, utilities instruction company and combat engineer instruction company. While there, he would be promoted to the rank of sergeant major.
In 2012, Young reported to Camp Pendleton serving as battalion sergeant major before once again being deployed to Okinawa, where he would serve as the squadron sergeant major for Headquarters Squadron Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in 2014.
In 2015, he would continue serving in Okinawa as the headquarters and support battalion sergeant major and sergeant major for camps Foster and Lester. From there he would once again be stationed at Camp Lejeune, serving as sergeant major to the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
In July 2019, Young would report to his current billet, Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany, where he would serve as base sergeant major until his retirement.
During his retirement ceremony, it was noted that Young had served 20 of his 29 years of service in a Corps at war.
Young's personal awards include: Meritorious Service Medal with three gold stars in lieu of a fourth award; the Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medal with one star; the Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal with two stars, and the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal. During Thursday's ceremony he was presented with the Legion of Merit for the leadership and guidance Young provided on a base with 5,000 personnel, 3,600 acres, 19 storage warehouses, 820,000 square feet of storage space, and an economic impact of more than $3.5 billion annually.
On accepting the sword of his new office, Edwards said, "I have done this a few times, but never have I taken the place of a person I considered a mentor to me for over 20 years. I know I have big shoes to fill; I look forward to continuing Sgt. Maj. Jeffery Young's legacy as he goes to start the next chapter of his life."
Edwards enlisted in the Corps on July 7, 1996, reporting to Parris Island, where he received a Military Operational Specialty 3051 and orders to report to Supply Warehouseman School at MCLB-Albany. In December he was deployed to 3rd Support Battalion in Okinawa, Japan.
In 1998, Edwards reported to 2nd Supply Battalion at Camp Lejeune, serving as battalion legal chief. In March, he was promoted to the rank of corporal and assigned to Combat Service Support participating in Humanitarian Operations in Nicaragua. Upon the completion of his first enlistment, he requested a lateral transfer as a unit level switchboard operator. With the request approved, he attended school in Palm Springs, Calif. He was the honor graduate of his class. He received orders to Camp Lejeune, and during his tour there he serves as the group color sergeant.
In 2001 Edwards reported to Drill Instructor School where, upon graduation, he became a drill instructor and a senior drill instructor, training more than 2,200 Marines. On July 2, 2003, he was meritoriously promoted to the rank of staff sergeant and assigned as drill master to the 2nd Recruit Battalion.
In 2005, he received orders to Camp Lejeune, serving as battalion wire chief. In December he was deployed with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit in support of OIF. Upon his return to the States, he attended the Communications Chiefs Course and once again was the honor graduate for his class. Following the school, he returned to his command, assuming duties of the company gunnery sergeant for Headquarters and Services Company.
In January 2007 Edwards was assigned to a military transition team, deploying in support of OIF and working hand-in-hand with the Iraqi Army, providing them with an understanding of Armed Services and how to better serve their own country. Returning from this deployment, he was given orders to report to Headquarters and Services Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 35 in Okinawa, serving as regimental wire chief. In December he was promoted to the rank of gunnery sergeant. In 2008 he was assigned company first sergeant. With the rank, he received orders to the oldest post in the Corps, 8th & 1 Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C., serving as the first sergeant for Bravo and Alpha Company.
In January 2014, Edwards received orders to the 4th Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company, becoming the inspector-instructor first sergeant. In 2016, he received orders to 1st Battalion 11th Marines, where he served as the headquarters battery first sergeant. In 2016, Edwards was promoted to the rank of sergeant major and received orders to the 1st Maintenance Battalion.
In July 2019, he was assigned to serve as sergeant major for the 3rd Law enforcement Battalion, 3rd Information Group. On June 23, 2020, he received orders to Headquarter Battalion, 3rd Marine Division for duty as battalion sergeant major.
Edwards has served in the Marines for 24 years. His personal awards include the Meritorious Service Medal with three stars, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with gold star, and the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal.
Making his retirement comments, Young showed his concern for his Marines, announcing his comments would be brief and that before he started, he was going to do something that was rarely done during a Marine Ceremony. He ordered "his" Marines, "Hey, Marines, go to modified parade rest." Ordering them to relax while he made his comments, he thanked his family for their support in his success and hoped he had made them proud.
As the ceremony came to its conclusion, another sergeant major cited how through his family's crisis and other events, Young had stood his watch, unfaltering. When others were at peril, he stood his watch.
"Now, sergeant major," he was told, "you are retired. We have the watch."