Master Gunnery Sergeant Kelly Scanlon enlisted into the United States Marine Corps in 1979. He completed his recruit training with 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, California. He fulfilled duties as a training non-commissioned officer, intelligence chief and administration chief.
Scanlon was eventually assigned as a platoon sergeant and company gunnery sergeant while deployed with "Task Force Ripper" 7th Marine Regiment in support of Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. The unit was the lead Marine Corps ground element that eventually assisted with the liberation of Kuwait.
His special duty assignments included drill instructor duty, where he served as a drill instructor, chief drill instructor and battalion operations chief. Additionally he served as a senior enlisted adviser to a recruiting station commanding officer.
Upon selection the Master Gunnery Sergeant, he served as the director of the Sergeants Course, Staff Non-commissioned Officers Academy aboard Marine Corps Air Ground Task Combat Center, 29 Palms, California and culminated his career serving as the first director of the Marine Corps Senior Enlisted Academy, Marine Corps University in Quantico, Virginia from 2008–2011.
Master Gunnery Sergeant Scanlon retired in September 2011.