Sergeant Major Gilliland was born on June 8, 1980 in Huntington Beach, California. He enlisted into the Marine Corps on April 26, 2000 and conducted training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego. Shortly after recruit training, he attended Stinger Gunner School at Fort Bliss, Texas where he was meritoriously promoted to Private First Class and nominated by his fellow peers as the motivational leadership award recipient for his class.
In December 2000, he checked into 3d Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion (LAAD Bn) where he served as a Machine Gunner, Avenger Crewman and Team Leader. In August 2002, he was assigned to the LAAD Detachment of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit and supported combat operations in Iraq, during Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) I. During this time, he was in direct support of the Queens Dragoon Guard (British tank unit) and conducted operations throughout the major cities of Al Basra, Umm Qasr and An Nasiriya. He redeployed in February 2004 for follow-on combat operations in Iraq, this time serving as a squad leader responsible for the operation and security of the main entry control point at Al Asad Airbase. Throughout this time, he received meritorious promotions to the ranks of Corporal and Sergeant.
In September 2005, he reported to Drill Instructor School at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego. While there, he attained the status of Brown Belt Marine Corps Martial Arts Program Instructor, Marine Combat Instructor of Water Survival and Senior Drill Instructor. His efforts during this time led to his meritorious promotion to Staff Sergeant.
In March 2009, he reported back to 3d LAAD Bn and served as Platoon Sergeant and Platoon Commander for Bravo Battery, First Platoon. In February 2010, he deployed to Afghanistan for combat operations throughout Helmand Province in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and regularly conducted partnered operations with the Afghanistan National Army and the United Kingdom's Royal Air Force. Upon redeployment, he was assigned as lead Instructor at the Battalion's Improved Moving Target Simulation facility and was responsible for teaching and instructing ground based air defense operations to both the West and East coast LAAD Bn Marines. For his actions in Afghanistan and throughout this period, he received a meritorious promotion to the rank of Gunnery Sergeant and was chosen as the 2011 Kenneth A. Innis MCAA nominee, for 3d Marine Aircraft Wing.
In May 2012, he regained the billet MOS of 0911 and filled the duties as the Assistant Marine Officer Instructor for George Washington University, Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps in Washington D.C. In October 2015, he transferred to his MOS schoolhouse in Twentynine Palms CA, and fulfilled the duties as an instructor and curriculum developer of basic Low Altitude Air Defense knowledge.
In December 2015, he was promoted to the rank of First Sergeant and transferred to H&S Company, 2d Battalion, 7th Marines. In April 2016, he deployed to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan 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, and served as a vital link to ally operations on the Syrian border. Upon redeployment, he moved up to fulfill the duties as Headquarters Company First Sergeant of 7th Marine Regiment and served as the `remain behind element' senior enlisted leader for a period of 7 months.
In November of 2018, he transferred to 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion (LAR Bn), and served as the H&S Company First Sergeant and Battalion Sergeant Major. For a period of time there, his Company was responsible for homeland security actions along the southern US and Mexico border. In May 2020, he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant Major and transferred to Heavy Marine Helicopter Squadron-462 in Miramar, CA, for duties as the senior enlisted leader. He deployed to Okinawa, Japan as part of the Unit Deployment Program and served on the Alert Contingency MAGTF which was devoted to actions in the South China Sea. In June of 2022, he was reassigned back to 1st LAR Bn and is fulfilling the role as the senior enlisted leader and Battalion Sergeant Major.
His collegiate education is in Organizational Leadership and Management and is currently pursuing a Master's of Science degree in that program of study through National University. His personal awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (fourth award), a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (second award with valor device) and a Combat Action Ribbon.