Sergeant Major Michael W. Cato Sr.
Marine Corps Systems Command
Sergeant Major Michael Cato was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in April 1994. He completed recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, California, as the Honor Graduate and was meritoriously promoted to Private First Class. Following recruit training, he attended his Military Occupational School (MOS) at the School of Infantry West, Camp Pendleton, California, where he was assigned the MOS 0313, Light Armored Vehicle Crewman.
In October 1994, Private First Class Cato reported to Alpha Company, 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion. Lance Corporal Cato deployed with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) in support of Operations Deny Flight, Joint Endeavor and Provide Promise. He also participated in Operation Agile Lion in Stuttgart, Germany.
In January 1998, Sergeant Cato reported to the School of Infantry West and was assigned to Light Armored Vehicle Crewmen’s Course. He served as an Instructor and Staff Non-commissioned Officer in Charge and obtained a secondary MOS of 0341 Mortarman.
In September 2001, Sergeant Cato received orders to MCRD in San Diego, for Drill Instructor duty. He served as Drill Instructor, Senior Drill Instructor and Chief Drill Instructor for Lima Co., 3rd Recruit Training Battalion. As a 0369, Staff Sergeant Cato completed the Infantry Unit Leaders course, prior to his assignment to V34.
In January 2005, Staff Sergeant Cato was transferred to 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines, where he deployed to Fallujah, Iraq, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom III with India Co., as the Platoon Sergeant for 1st Platoon. Upon return, he assumed the duties of Co. Gunnery Sergeant.
In January 2006, he received orders to 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, where he completed the Navigators course in Coronado, California. He attended Advance Course 3-06 and graduated as the Gung Ho recipient before deploying in July 2006 to Okinawa, Japan, in support of the 31st MEU. While there, he served as Weapons Platoon Sergeant, Trailer Platoon Commander and Co. GySgt.
In February 2007, Gunnery Sergeant Cato received orders to Annapolis, Maryland. He reported to the United States Naval Academy for duty and served as the 10th Company Senior Enlisted Advisor and the Leatherneck Senior Enlisted Advisor, where he trained midshipmen for Naval service and screened a competitive cohort for Marine Corps Officer selection.
In September 2009, First Sergeant Cato reported to 1st Battalion, 1st Marines as the Bravo Company First Sergeant, where he deployed with the 13th MEU. Upon return to CONUS, he received orders to CLR-17, HQ Co., 1st MLG.
From January 2012 to February 2014, First Sergeant Cato was the Headquarters Company First Sergeant for HQ Reg, 1st MLG, aboard Camp Pendleton, California. In 2013, he graduated from SEPME class 3-13 in Quantico, Virginia.
In February 2014, he was assigned as the Redeployment, Retrograde in support of Reset and Reconstitution Operations Group (R4OG) Sergeant Major, OEF Rotation 5, Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, attached to MARCENT. The unit’s mission was to retrograde all Marine Corps equipment out of Afghanistan.
In April 2015, he reported to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265 (VMM-265), where he served as the Aviation Combat Element, Sergeant Major, for the 31st MEU until May 2016. After completing the 31st MEU, the squadron rejoined Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st MAW for follow-on tasking.
In November 2016, he received orders to Combat Assault Battalion, 3d Marine Division. He completed SEJPME II and executed a Battalion-sized Korean Marine Exchange Program. He then leaned heavily into the deactivation of the Battalion.
In April 2018, he reported to Marine Air Control Group 18, 1st MAW. In December 2019, he earned a Bachelor of Science degree, Cum Lade, in Interdisciplinary Studies from Liberty University. In January 2020, he graduated the Keystone CSEL course at the National Defense University in Washington D.C.
Sergeant Major Cato’s personal decorations include: Meritorious Service Medal (w/ a gold star), Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (w/ two gold stars), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (with 3 gold stars) and the Combat Action Ribbon.