First Sergeant Gilliland was born on June 8, 1980 in Huntington Beach, California. He enlisted into the Marine Corps on April 24, 2000 and conducted training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego. Shortly after recruit training, he attended Stinger Missile Gunner School at Fort Bliss, Texas and was voted by his young peers to receive the “Motivational Leadership” award, resulting in a meritorious promotion to Private First Class.
In December 2000, he checked into 3d Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion where he served as a basic Stinger Gunner, Avenger Crewman and Team Leader. In 2001, he was chosen by the Battalion Commander as the top Lance Corporal of the Battalion and was meritoriously promoted to the rank of Corporal. In August 2002, he was assigned to the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and deployed in support combat operations in Operation Iraqi Freedom I. During his deployment, he was directly attached to the Queens Dragoon Guard (British tank unit), providing air and ground security of their headquarters element as they worked to secure the city of Al Basra, Iraq. For his actions while deployed, he was meritoriously promoted to the rank of Sergeant. In February 2004 he redeployed to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom II with 3d Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion as a squad leader. His squad was responsible for the operation and security of the main entry control point at Al Asad Airbase.
In September 2005, he checked into Drill Instructor School at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego. During his time on the depot, he attained the status of Brown Belt Marine Corps Martial Arts Program Instructor, as well as Marine Combat Instructor of Water Survival (MCIWS). He developed 428 United States Marines and qualified over 15,000 Marines and Recruits in water survival. In January 2008 he was meritoriously promoted to the rank of Staff Sergeant and given the billet Senior Drill Instructor.
In March 2009, he checked back into 3d LAAD Bn and served as Platoon Sergeant for First Platoon, Battery B. In February 2010, he deployed to Afghanistan with his platoon in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. While there, his platoon conducted over 320 mounted and dismounted combat patrols within the Helmand Province. For the last two months of that deployment, he was unfortunately moved up into the Platoon Commanders position after his Platoon Commander, and good friend, triggered an improvised explosive device and was rushed out of the battlespace. Upon redeployment, he was assigned as Lead Instructor at the Battalion’s Improved Moving Target Simulation facility where he was responsible for instructing Marines in Low Altitude Air Defense operations. In January of 2011, he was selected as one of I MEF’s meritorious promotion nominees and subsequently promoted the following April to the rank of Gunnery Sergeant, meritoriously. Additionally, he was selected as 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing’s nominee for the coveted “Kenneth A. Innis” Leadership Award.
In May 2012, he regained the billet MOS of 0911 and filled the duties as the Assistant Marine Officer Instructor for George Washington University NROTC. While there, he commissioned 35 Marine Corps Officers and 132 Navy Officers. In October 2015, he transferred to his MOS schoolhouse and fulfilled the duties as an instructor of basic Stinger knowledge.
In December 2015, he was selected to his current rank and immediately transferred to H&S Company, 2d Battalion, 7th Marines. In April 2016, he deployed with a rifle company and fulfilled the duties of the Senior Enlisted Leader for Security Cooperation Team-Jordan. His company was responsible for the development and partnership of the Jordanian Marine Corps and Army. Upon redeployment, he moved up to fulfill the duties as Headquarters Company First Sergeant, of 7th Marine Regiment.
In November of 2018, he transferred to 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion and is currently serving as the Battalion Sergeant Major.
His personal awards include the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with two Gold Stars, a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with one gold star and one Combat Distinguishing Device, and the Combat Action Ribbon.