Marine infantry school on West Coast fires its sergeant major

Sergeant Major
Sgt. Maj. Steven Burkett, then the sergeant major of School of Infantry-West, poses with his trophy after being recognized as Camp Pendleton, California, male Marine athlete of the year in April. (Cpl. Angela Wilcox/Marine Corps)

The top enlisted Marine at one of the Corps’ two entry-level schools was fired in July, the Marine Corps confirmed.

Sgt. Maj. Steven M. Burkett was “formally relieved” July 13 by Col. Seth MacCutcheon, the commanding officer of School of Infantry-West, “for a loss of trust and confidence in his ability to perform his duties as the Command Sergeant Major,” Maj. Joshua Pena, a spokesman for Marine Corps Training Command, said in a statement to Marine Corps Times Aug. 4.

“A preliminary inquiry was conducted into the matter and can be requested through the Freedom of Information Act,” Pena said.

The Marine Corps’ public records office at Quantico, Virginia, said in a letter to Marine Corps Times on Wednesday that it would not begin a search for the inquiry or confirm its existence because it would not be a publicly releasable document.

School of Infantry-West, based at Camp Pendleton, California, is one of two destinations where newly minted Marines must go for additional schooling after they complete recruit training. At schools of infantry, grunts get trained at Infantry Training Battalion, and everyone else learns the basics of infantry at Marine Combat Training Battalion.

Sgt. Maj. Joseph Powers, the sergeant major of the school’s Headquarters and Support Battalion, is now the interim sergeant major of the entire School of Infantry-West, according to its website.

Burkett did not respond to a Marine Corps Times request for comment.

He enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1994, ended up in supply administration, and served as an embassy security guard in Paris and Ankara, Turkey, Marine Corps Times previously reported. He went on multiple deployments as a staff noncommissioned officer, including to Iraq and Mongolia.

Burkett is the holder of three world records in kettlebell swinging, as Marine Corps Times reported in May. In April, his California Marine base recognized him as its 2022 male athlete of the year.