Sergeant Major Cortez L. Brown was born in East Saint Louis, Illinois, and he enlisted into the Marine Corps on 19 August 1988 from Denver, Colorado. In September 1988, upon graduation from Lincoln Sr. High School, he reported to Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) San Diego, California, for recruit training. He graduated from MCRD San Diego in December 1988 and reported to the School of Infantry (SOI) at Marine Corps Base (MCB) Camp Pendleton, California. After completion of the SOI, Pvt Brown was assigned to Marine Barracks Guam, Marine Security Guard Force Marinna Inlands and became a Marine Security Guard. In September 1990, LCpl Brown reported for duty with Company C, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines (1/9), MCB Camp Pendleton, California, as an infantry riflemen. While with 1/9, LCpl Brown deployed with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and participated in Operation FIERY VIGIL as well as Operations DESERT STORM and SHIELD. In September 1992, as a newly promoted corporal, he was involuntary separated from the Marine Corps as a result of Marine Corps Forces Reduction. After being discharged from active duty, Cpl Brown joined the active reserve unit 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion and was assigned the duty of scout.
In February 1996, Sgt Brown was afforded the opportunity to come back on active duty as a lance corporal. After reporting to Meridian, Mississippi, he obtained the new military occupation specialty of Maintenance Administration Specialist. After graduating from Maintenance Administration School, he reported to Heavy Marine Helicopter Squadron (HMH) 465, Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Tustin, California, for duty. He served as a Maintenance Administration Clerk. In November 1996, he was promoted to the rank of corporal. From March 1997 to August 1999, Cpl Brown was part of two six-month unit deployment programs with HMH-465 to MCAS Futenma, Okinawa, Japan.
In November 1998, while on deployment in Okinawa, Japan, he was promoted to the rank of sergeant and became noncommissioned officer-in-charge (NCOIC) of the Squadron Data Analyst for HMH-465. In 1999, Sgt Brown was assigned the billet of Central Technical Publications Librarian. In September 2000, he was promoted to the rank of staff sergeant. In April 2001, SSgt Brown volunteered for drill instructor duty and attended Drill Instructor School at MCRD San Diego, California. After graduating Drill Instructor School, SSgt Brown was assigned to Company K, 3rd Battalion, where he completed 10 cycles and held the billets of Senior Drill Instructor and Series Chief Drill Instructor.
In September 2004, after successful completion of his tour as a drill instructor, SSgt Brown received orders to Marine Aircraft Logistic Squadron-16 at MCAS Miramar, California. Upon arrival, he was re-assigned to HMH-465, MCAS Miramar, California, to assume the duty of Maintenance Administration Chief. During his time with HMH-465, he deployed twice to Iraq. In September 2005, while on his second deployment in Iraq, Operation IRAQ FREEDOM 05-08, he was promoted to the rank of gunnery sergeant. In January 2008, GySgt Brown was hand selected to become the Marine Aircraft Group-16 Personnel Support Detachment acting first sergeant. After assuming this position, he deployed for the third time to Al Asad, Iraq.
In March 2009, after returning from Al Asad, he was promoted to the rank of first sergeant with an assignment to 23rd Marine Regiment in San Bruno, California. He was assigned as the site first sergeant, where he performed Inspector and Instructor (I&I) duties for both Headquarters Company and Company E, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Marines. During this period, 1stSgt Brown received his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration/Management from Columbia Southern University in 2011. 1stSgt Brown remained at this command until August 2012. In September 2012, 1stSgt Brown received orders to 5th Battalion, 11th Marines (5/11), 1st Marine Division, at MCB Camp Pendleton, California, for duties as a Battery First Sergeant for Tango Battery.
In May 2013, 1stSgt Brown was promoted to his current rank of sergeant major and received orders to become the Battalion Sergeant Major for 1st Battalion, 11th Marines (1/11). In December 2015, SgtMaj Brown stood detached from 1/11 and reported to Recruiting Station (RS) Charleston in December 2015 to assume all duties as the RS Sergeant Major.
In June 2017, SgtMaj Brown received orders to 6th Marine Corps District (6MCD) to assume all duties and responsibilities as the District Sergeant Major. In July 2019, SgtMaj Brown assumed all duties and responsibilities as the sergeant major of Marine Corps Recruiting Command.
His personal awards include the Meritorious Service Medal with 2 gold stars, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with 2 gold stars, and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with a gold star.