By LAPG Staff
Jun 7th 2019

Sgt. Maj. Troy Black took the “no man left behind” motto quite seriously in 2010 when he was deployed with the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines to Afghanistan. The Sergeant Major wasn’t leaving anyone behind on his watch when he ran across hundreds of yards of unswept territory filled with IEDs to reach a marine who was killed when one exploded. As a result, the military awarded Black a Bronze Star for valorous actions. 

Sgt. Maj. Black enlisted with the Marines in 1988. He is from Louisville, Kentucky, originally. Black trained to be a machine gunner at Camp Geiger in North Carolina after boot camp. Throughout his military career, he deployed several times for Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Desert Storm/ Desert Shield, Operation Enduring Freedom, and as support during the United States Panama Invasion. Black also deployed on many other operations with the Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Company and Marine Expeditionary Unit.

19th Sergeant Major

Black will take the place of Sgt. Maj. Ronald Green as the 19th Sergeant Major of the Marines when Green retires after 35 years of service in the Marine Corps. The Marine Corps established this enlisted advisory position in 1957. The Commandant appoints this position, and the assignment usually last four years but can last as long as the Commandant allows.

The press release stated that Sergeant Major Black received numerous other military awards, including a Combat Action Ribbon with two stars and the Marine Corps and Navy Commendation Medal with combat distinguishing device. Since 2017, Sgt. Maj. Black has served over reserve affairs and manpower. He was also over the 1st Marine Logistics Group, Officer Candidates School, and the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit over the course of his career.

He was a leading example for over 1,100 troops who were deployed across three provinces and worked with two different Afghan battalions during his 2010 deployment. Black devoted himself to his duty and illustrated extraordinary leadership. Sgt. Maj. Black set an exemplary example of a brave leader who worked well under pressure. He guided and encouraged the troops under him. Black was also humble, crediting his Marines for the battalion's success.

A retired Sergeant Major, Carlton Kent, described Black as, "a warfighter who leads by example." Kent went on to say that "Marines are going to be able to communicate their issues to him, and he's one of those types of sergeant majors who's going to jump right on top of those issues." An approachable, combat-tested leader is the perfect choice for the 19th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps. His ability to relate to those below him and not place himself on a pedestal is an incredible asset.

Sgt. Maj. Black Supports Education and Technological Advancements

The appointment is excellent for the Marine Corps. It's likely that Sgt. Maj. Black will focus on technological advancements that can assist in engaging today's sophisticated enemy. He's also a big supporter of enlisted PME or Professional Military Education. Sgt. Maj. Kent explained that Black would focus on education and developing non-commissioned officers into strong and competent staff NCOs. This career development will help shape superior senior NCOs.

"No Man Left Behind"

This statement has profound meaning for all Marines. It's also the name of a statue commissioned by the nonprofit organization Hope for the Warriors. The statue immortalizes the "Hell House" photo that was taken by Lucian Read during the battle of Fallujah, Iraq. In the photo, two Lance Corporals carry a severely injured and bloody First Sergeant Bradley Kasal from a house after a firefight occurred inside. The First Sergeant was shot and wounded by shrapnel after protecting another Marine from a detonated grenade.

Kasal had lost so much blood and was injured so badly that he couldn't walk out on his own. He still had his Ka-Bar knife clutched in his left hand and his handgun in his right. The photo was the epitome of the Marine spirit and symbolized the brutality of the fights they face.

The sculptor, John Phelps, was also preserving the image of his son, a Marine Pfc. who was also killed in Iraq and awarded the Bronze Star with the V device posthumously. Kevin Bacon starred in the HBO movie, "Taking Chance," which illustrated Chance Phelps' voyage home. The statue was called "No Man Left Behind." So, it's quite fitting that a man who walked across IED-ridden terrain to retrieve a murdered Marine will now be the Sergeant Major over the Marine Corps.

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