Sergeant Major, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines
SgtMaj Maria S. Zalwango

Sergeant Major Maria Zalwango was born in Mengo, Uganda. She enlisted in the Marine Corps and attended Recruit Training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina in January 2004, where she was promoted to Private First Class (PFC). She reported to Marine Combat Training (MCT) East at Camp Geiger, Jacksonville, North Carolina in April 2004. Upon completion of MCT, PFC Zalwango reported to Court House Bay, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina for her Military Occupation Specialty (MOS) school where she earned the MOS of 1141 (Electrician).

Upon completion of her MOS school, PFC Zalwango reported for duty to 9th Engineer Support Battalion Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan in September 2004. She was promoted to the rank of Lance Corporal in October 2004 and deployed to Colombo, Sri Lanka in January 2005 for a humanitarian mission. She later deployed to Iraq from September 2005 to March 2006 as an electrician. She was combat meritoriously promoted to the rank of Corporal in October 2005 and became the Electrical Operations Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge (NCOIC).

Corporal Zalwango was later assigned to Marine Wing Support Squadron (MWSS) 273, Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina in October 2006 where she was promoted to the rank of Sergeant on December 1, 2006. While assigned to MWSS 273, she performed many duties to include Platoon Sergeant, Electrical Section Floor Chief, Training Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) and MIMMS NCO. Sergeant Zalwango was then deployed to Iraq from September 2008 to April 2009 and served as the Utilities NCOIC at Sahl SinJar, Iraq. Sergeant Zalwango was later assigned to Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina in October of 2009 for Drill Instructor Duty.

Upon Completion of Drill Instructor school, she was assigned to 4th Recruit Training Battalion, Papa Company where she completed three full cycles. After her third cycle, Sergeant Zalwango reported to Support Battalion Recruit Processing Company where she served as a Receiving and Processing Drill Instructor. In February 2011, Sergeant Zalwango was assigned to Support Battalion, Special Training Company Female Readiness Platoon and continued her duties as a Drill Instructor. In September 2011, Sergeant Zalwango was reassigned to 4th Recruit Training Battalion Papa Company and was promoted to the rank of Staff Sergeant on December 1, 2011. Staff Sergeant Zalwango was then assigned to November Company in February 2012 where she performed her duties as a Senior Drill Instructor.

In January 2013, after completing a successful tour from the drill field, Staff Sergeant Zalwango executed orders to 1st Maintenance Battalion, Headquarters Company as a Utilities Operations Chief and the Battalion Equal Opportunity Representative. In January 2016, she was assigned to Combat Logistics Battalion-5, Headquarters and Service Company as the Staff Non Commissioned Officer of Engineer Support Platoon and later was assigned to Officer Candidate School where she completed one full cycle as a Sergeant Instructor. In October 2016, she was re assigned back to Drill Instructor School, Marine Corps Recruiting Depot Parris Island, South Carolina for a second tour as a Drill Instructor. She was hand selected to be a Drill Instructor School instructor where she held the billets of Squad Instructor, Marine Corps Common Skills Instructor, and Basic Warrior Training Instructor. She was promoted to the rank of Gunnery Sergeant on July 1st, 2017 and later received orders to MWSS 372 as Utilities Chief in September 2018. While at MWSS 372, Gunnery Sergeant Zalwango served as the Utilities Chief for Utilities Platoon and as the Airfield Operations Company Senior Enlisted Advisor until April 2021.

She was selected to the rank of First Sergeant and executed orders to Weapons and Field Training Battalion and served as the Unit Senior enlisted Leader for Field and Weapons Training Company. In January 2023, First Sergeant Zalwango executed orders to Marine Corps Security Force Regiment as the Unit Senior Enlisted Leader for Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team Company, Central Command (FASTCENT). In November 2023, she was selected to the rank of Sergeant Major and reported to 1st Battalion, 7th Marines in March of 2024 to Serve as the Command Senior Enlisted Leader.

Sergeant Major Zalwango’s personal awards include the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (second award) and Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (second award). She has one son, Christopher, and has achieved a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice.

1st Marine Division