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Sgt. Maj. Alford McMichael

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Information about Sgt. Maj. Alford McMichael

Profile image of Sgt. Maj. Alford McMichael

Profession

Category:
MilitaryMakers
Occupation(s):
Sergeant

Favorites

Favorite Color:
None
Favorite Food:
Fried Chicken
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Southern France
Favorite Quote:
Teamwork Makes Your Dreams Work.

Birthplace

Born:
2/24/1952
Birth Location:
Hot Spring, Arkansas

Profession

Category:
MilitaryMakers
Occupation(s):
Sergeant

Favorites

Favorite Color:
None
Favorite Food:
Fried Chicken
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Southern France
Favorite Quote:
Teamwork Makes Your Dreams Work.

Birthplace

Born:
2/24/1952
Birth Location:
Hot Spring
See how Sgt. Maj. Alford McMichael is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant Major Alford L. McMichael was born on February 24, 1952 in Hot Springs, Arkansas. After graduating from Hot Springs High School, McMichael enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps on August 27, 1970 at the Recruit Depot in San Diego California. McMichael completed Infantry Training School and Basic Infantry Training in 1971 at Camp Pendleton, California and went on to graduate from Staff Noncommissioned Officers Academy Advanced School and the Marine Security Guard School.

In 1973, McMichael was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines at Camp Pendleton. He returned to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego in December of 1973 where he served as a drill instructor, a series gunnery sergeant, and a battalion drill master. After completing Marine Security Guard School in 1979, McMichael was assigned to the American Embassy in Copenhagen, Denmark. In December of 1984, he transferred to Okinawa, Japan to serve as the First Sergeant of Company C, 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion. McMichael was appointed deputy director of the Staff Noncommissioned Officers Academy at the Marine Corps Air Station in El Toro, California in 1988 and served there as director from 1989 to 1991.

McMichael was transferred to Quantico for a three-year stint as the Sergeant Major of Officer Candidates School and then deployed to Okinawa, Japan where he served as the Sergeant Major of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit until 1995. McMichael then served as the Sergeant Major of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing from 1997 to 1999, and then the Sergeant Major for Manpower and Reserve Affairs Division at the U.S.M.C. Headquarters. On July 1, 1999, McMichael was named 14th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, becoming the first African American to hold the post. Under his leadership, the Marine Corps saw the establishment of the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program and the commencement of the Global War on Terrorism. Deferring his planned retirement in 2003, McMichael was appointed to the newly-created post of Senior Non-Commissioned Officer for Allied Command Operations, and served in there until July 17, 2006.

McMichael’s military honors include the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, the Navy & Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Navy & Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal. His memoirs were published under the title Leadership: Achieving Life-Changing Success From Within (2008).

U.S. Marine Corps Sargent Major Alford L. McMichael was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 22, 2013.

See how Sgt. Maj. Alford McMichael is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Alford McMichael's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Alford McMichael lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Alford McMichael describes his mother's family background, pt. 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Alford McMichael describes his mother's family background, pt. 2
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Alford McMichael talks about his maternal grandmother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Alford McMichael talks about his mother and his maternal grandparents
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Alford McMichael talks about his maternal grandmother saving her family's home, and his grandfather's death from prostate cancer
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Alford McMichael talks about the resort town of Hot Springs, Arkansas
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Alford McMichael talks about his grandfather's reputation in Hot Springs, Arkansas and the close-knit community there
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Alford McMichael talks about the celebrities who frequented Hot Springs, Arkansas and the decline of the city's tourism industry from the late 1960s
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Alford McMichael talks about not knowing his father
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Alford McMichael talks about growing up with a single parent and not letting the absence of his father affect him emotionally
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Alford McMichael talks about how his mother successfully raised ten children as a single parent
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Alford McMichael talks about his siblings
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Alford McMichael talks about his earliest childhood memories
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Alford McMichael recalls family meals and his mother's cooking
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Alford McMichael talks about spending time with his grandmother and tending to the family's garden and animals
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Alford McMichael talks about being raised to be respectful
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Alford McMichael describes his experience in elementary school in Hot Springs, Arkansas
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Alford McMichael talks about attending church as a child in Hot Springs, Arkansas
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Alford McMichael talks about the National Baptist Convention in Hot Springs, Arkansas and black establishments in the city
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Alford McMichael talks about being "separate but not segregated" in Hot Springs, Arkansas, and the integration of schools in 1969
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Alford McMichael talks about his high school football team
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Alford McMichael talks about his favorite teachers in high school
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Alford McMichael talks about playing football in high school
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Alford McMichael talks about the peaceful integration of his high school in Hot Springs, Arkansas, in 1969
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Alford McMichael recalls his teachers in high school, and how they counseled their students when Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Alford McMichael talks about voting rights for African Americans in Arkansas
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Alford McMichael gives an example of the cordial race relations in Hot Springs, Arkansas during his youth
  • Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Alford McMichael talks about his academic performance and the integration of Hot Springs, Arkansas
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Alford McMichael talks about his jobs and buying a 1964 Chevy Impala
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Alford McMichael describes how he made his car payments
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Alford McMichael talks about working hard as a youngster and saving his money
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Alford McMichael explains his decision to join the U.S. Marine Corps after graduating from college
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Alford McMichael talks about the lack of college counseling in high school
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Alford McMichael describes his experience at the U.S. Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, California, pt. 1
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Alford McMichael describes his experience at the U.S. Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, California, pt. 2
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Alford McMichael talks about basic training at the U.S. Marine Corps Recruit Depot as preparation for being a Marine
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Alford McMichael talks about his first assignment in Hawaii
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Alford McMichael talks about serving in the U.S. Marines with his brother, and being promoted four ranks in eighteen months
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Alford McMichael describes becoming a drill instructor in 1974
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Alford McMichael describes his philosophy as a drill instructor in the U.S. Marines, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Alford McMichael describes his philosophy as a drill instructor in the U.S. Marines, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Alford McMichael describes his experiences as a drill instructor in the U.S. Marines from 1974 to 1976, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Alford McMichael describes his experiences as a drill instructor in the U.S. Marines from 1974 to 1976, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Alford McMichael talks about his assignment with the 7th Marines at Camp Pendleton and his transfer to the 3rd Marine Division
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Alford McMichael talks about his promotion to become a staff NCO, his assignment in Okinawa, Japan, and his promotion to become a gunnery sergeant
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Alford McMichael talks about the responsibilities of a gunnery sergeant
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Alford McMichael talks about his desire to work at an American embassy
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Alford McMichael talks about getting married in 1977 and his assignment to Okinawa, Japan shortly afterwards
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Alford McMichael talks about attending Marine Security Guard School, being assignment to the U.S. embassy in Copenhagen, Denmark, and becoming a father
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Alford McMichael describes his experience in the Marine Corps Embassy Security Group at the U.S. embassy in Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Alford McMichael describes his service at the U.S. embassy in Copenhagen, Denmark, during the Iranian hostage crisis
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Alford McMichael talks about his experience as an instructor for the Marine Security Guard School
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Alford McMichael describes his experience as the Assistant Marine Officer Instructor for the NROTC Program at the University of Minnesota
  • Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Alford McMichael talks about the success of his students in the NROTC Program at the University of Minnesota
  • Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Alford McMichael discusses his promotion to first sergeant of the U.S. Marine Corps
  • Tape: 6 Story: 12 - Alford McMichael talks about his assignment to Okinawa, Japan as a first sergeant of the U.S. Marine Corps
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Alford McMichael discusses his service as the first sergeant of Company C, 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, in Okinawa, Japan
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Alford McMichael talks about his experience at Roosevelt Roads Naval Station in Puerto Rico and his advice to young Marines wanting to get married
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Alford McMichael talks about his promotion to become a sergeant major and his appointment as the director of the Staff Noncommissioned Officers Academy
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Alford McMichael talks about his role as the director of the Staff NCO Academy and as Sergeant Major of Officer Candidate School
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Alford McMichael talks about the Gulf War and his brother's promotion to sergeant major in the U.S. Marines
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Alford McMichael talks about serving as Sergeant Major of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit and as Sergeant Major for Manpower and Reserve Affairs
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Alford McMichael describes his appointment as the 14th Sergeant Major of the U.S. Marine Corps
  • Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Alford McMichael describes the responsibilities of the Sergeant Major of the U.S. Marine Corps
  • Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Alford McMichael talks about becoming the first Sergeant Major to serve as the Supreme Allied Command of Europe, and General James L. Jones's role