U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant Major Carlton W. Kent was born on November 5, 1957 in Memphis, Tennessee. Kent graduated from South Side High School in Memphis. His military education includes graduating from the Army Airborne School and Parachute Riggers School in 1981, the Marine Corps Drill Instructor School in 1989, and the Army Sergeants Major Academy in 1994.
In 1976, Kent completed recruit training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Parris Island, South Carolina and was assigned to the 1st Marine Brigade. Kent was transferred to the Marine Security Guard Battalion where he served as a Marine security guard at the American Embassy in Kinshasa, Zaire and Panama. In 1983, Kent reported to Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, California for duty as a drill instructor, senior drill instructor, and battalion drill master with the First Battalion. Kent was meritoriously promoted to Gunnery Sergeant in 1985. Following his promotion, Kent briefly served as Platoon Sergeant with the 3rd Air Delivery Platoon, and then reported to Hawaii where he was assigned Company Gunnery Sergeant with the Engineer Company, 1st Marine Brigade. In February 1990, Kent was promoted to First Sergeant and assigned as First Sergeant, Marine Aviation and Training Support Group, Pensacola, Florida.
Following his graduation from the Army Sergeants Major Academy in 1994, Kent was assigned as First Sergeant, and then later as Sergeant Major of the 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment. In May 2001, Kent was transferred to Stuttgart, Germany where he was assigned to the position of Sergeant Major of Marine Forces in Europe. In 2004, Kent reported to Camp Pendleton, California to serve as the Sergeant Major of the I Marine Expeditionary Force. He was appointed as the 16th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps in April 2007 and served in this position until June 2011.
Kent’s military honors include the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with Gold Star, the Bronze Star, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, and the Combat Action Ribbon. He is the recipient of the General Gerald C. Thomas Award for leadership.
U.S. Sergeant Major Carlton W. Kent was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 16, 2013.