New MCLB Albany Commanding Officer Aiming to Boost Community Engagement, Raise Up Next Marine Generation

Jennifer Parks

Wednesday, September 13th, 2023

Col. Matthew McKinney assumed the reins at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany bursting with ideas and enthusiasm on how to move the base forward.

Much of this enthusiasm centers around strengthening the base’s bond with people they depend on both in and outside the fence line.

McKinney took command of MCLB Albany on June 29, succeeding Col. Michael J. Fitzgerald. He came to Albany from the role of chief operations officer and contracting officer representative at the Capability Prototypes Office under the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, which he had been serving in since May 2021.

The colonel was exposed to the military life early.

“My father was a Navy doc. He inspired me to serve,” McKinney said.

He was ultimately led to the Marines Corps when he learned more about his uncle’s service as a Marine officer during the Vietnam War.

“I didn’t know about his Silver Star until high school,” McKinney said. “He retired in the mid-80s at (Marine Corps Recruit Depot) Parris Island.

“I always aspired to be a Marine because in my mind, they were the best.”

McKinney is a 1996 graduate of West Virginia University and was commissioned into the Marine Corps via the Platoon Leaders Combined Course in August 1999. He graduated from The Basic School and Landing Force Logistics Officers Course in 2000. 

His operational assignments include 1st Battalion, 7th Marines; 2nd Force Reconnaissance Company; 2nd Marine Special Operations Battalion; Marine Special Operations Command; United States Special Operations Command; Special Operations Command (Forward) Pakistan; and the 24th and 26th Marine Expeditionary units. McKinney has commanded from the platoon to the regiment level, including Combat Logistics Battalion 26 and Combat Logistics Regiment 2.

His staff assignments include School of Infantry East, USSOCOM, Marine Barracks Washington, D.C., Combat Logistics Regiment 2 and the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering.  McKinney has deployed multiple times throughout the Indo-Pacific, Europe, Africa and Middle East, including combat deployments in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

He has also undergone at-sea deployments aboard Navy amphibious ships USS Iwo Jima, USS New York and USS Oak Hill.

“I said I would stay (in the Corps) until I stopped having fun. Everywhere I have been, I have enjoyed staying,” McKinney said. “I am proud to have been able to serve as long as I have.”

The colonel’s first combat tour was in Iraq from 2005 to 2006. He later took two deployments to Pakistan while stationed in Tampa, Florida.

“I grew a beard and adopted the local dress (in Pakistan),” he said. “It was definitely a unique perspective.”

His time at Marine Barracks Washington, D.C., also known as 8th and I, was eye-opening for McKinney. He marched numerous funeral details and got a first-hand look at what it meant to take care of Marines and their families.

He even got a chance to do it for a very well-known Marine, John Glenn. Glenn was a Marine aviator who was one of the Mercury Seven astronauts. He was the first American to orbit Earth via Friendship 7 in 1962, and later served in the United States Senate representing Ohio.

He passed away at the age of 95 on December 8, 2016. McKinney participated in his funeral arrangements, including a burial at Arlington National Cemetery the following April.

“He had a very unique career,” McKinney said of Glenn. “We did the condolence call to his widow Annie (Glenn) and did detail at the funeral later that spring.”

Glenn was the last of the Mercury Seven astronaut class to die.

Leadership from MCLB Albany, Marine Corps Logistics Command and the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce travel to Washington, D.C. annually to reach out to southwest Georgia’s legislators within Congress. The engagement is known as the D.C. Fly-In.

The last D.C. Fly-In was shortly before McKinney assumed command of MCLB Albany. It was there he met many of the individuals he would be working with at his next duty station and gained confidence in what he and his family had to look forward to.

He began rubbing elbows with the community’s movers and shakers at local events almost immediately after coming to southwest Georgia.

“They were all excited for us to be a part of the family,” he said. “I’ve been embraced at events such as the chamber’s Military Appreciation Rise n’ Shine Breakfast and the Salty Sandbagger.

“Every interaction has been very positive so far.”

The commanding officer said MCLB Albany differs from other Marine Corps bases in its size, as many others are very large by comparison. It also differs in that it has a mission making it relevant to Marines on a worldwide scale.

Think of McKinney in a mayor-like role overseeing the support efforts to tenant commands aboard the base such as the Defense Logistics Agency and MARLOGCOM, which operates depots in both Albany and Barstow, California that repair and restore equipment and vehicles Marines are using overseas.

It’s a mission lives depend on.

“Our mission here is what makes us unique,” the colonel said. “We are supportive of global missions.”

McKinney’s top priority is building on the strong foundations left by his predecessors. His passion is for improving quality of life.

“There is a lot we can do to make it a better experience for our active-duty families,” he said.

This ranges from recreation to education opportunities, to taking advantage of opportunities to mentor and be mentored.

“In order to keep Marines and keep them happy, we need to offer them these opportunities,” the colonel said. “Marines learn best by doing; they are continuously learning and evolving.

“The father-son mentorship is important.”

There is never a Marine Corps base project fully seen from start to finish; there are always improvements or changes to be made over time. The energy efficiency initiatives at MCLB Albany are one example, and the efforts made to reach significant milestones there have paid off on a national scale.

And the work is still not over.

“We were the first Department of Defense installation to reach Net Zero for electricity. That is a huge accomplishment,” McKinney said. “Our base is small in size, making it a better platform for experimentation. We are ripe for expansion.”

The installation cannot exist without the support provide by external Albany area community. So building on this relationship is key, which may mean letting them in the gates more often.

“The community really seems to embrace Marines and Marine families,” McKinney said. “We like to see community investment, and we need to hold more public events.

“We will be in a good place to move forward as long as we are taking care of our Marines and the infrastructure for our tenants, and achieve our global missions.”

McKinney describes his leadership approach as “lead from the front and lead by experience.”

“We lead by doing, pulling the weight and shouldering the load,” he said. “Discomfort becomes comfortable, and you make yourself stronger by doing to.

“Most of the things we learned about how to live we learned in kindergarten. We learn from the leaders before us. You ask tough questions and seek out answers.”

McKinney is a 2002 graduate of the Amphibious Warfare School, a 2006 graduate of U.S. Army Airborne School, a 2008 graduate of Army Combined Logistics Captains Career Course, a 2012 graduate of Marine Corps Command and Staff College, a 2013 graduate of the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School LOGTECH Course, a 2014 graduate of Air Command and Staff College and a 2020 graduate of Air War College.