Alford L. McMichael
|Alford L. McMichael|
14th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps
1st Senior NCO of the NATO ACO
February 24, 1952 |
Hot Springs, Arkansas
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch||United States Marine Corps|
|Years of service||1970-2006|
|Rank||Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps|
|Commands held||Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps
Senior Non-Commissioned Officer for Allied Command Operations (NATO)
|Awards||Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Legion of Merit
Meritorious Service Medal (2)
Sergeant Major Alford L. McMichael, USMC (born February 24, 1952) was the 14th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps (1999–2003), and was the 1st Senior Non-Commissioned Officer for Allied Command Operations for NATO (2003–2006). McMichael retired from the Marine Corps in 2006 after 36 years of service.
Military career 
In June 1971, after completing Infantry Training School and Basic Infantry Training at Camp Pendleton, California, McMichael was assigned to Marine Barracks, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. In May 1973, he was transferred to 2nd Battalion 5th Marines at Camp Pendleton. In December 1973, he returned to Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego to serve as a drill instructor, series Gunnery Sergeant, and battalion drill master. In December 1975, he was transferred to 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, at Camp Pendleton.
In January 1978, McMichael transferred to the 3rd Marine Division, where he served as a shore party chief with the 3rd Division Support Group. In January 1979, he received orders to Marine Security Guard School and, upon completion of the training, was assigned to the American Embassy in Copenhagen, Denmark. In May 1981, he returned to Quantico, Virginia to serve as an instructor for the Marine Security Guard School.
In May 1983, McMichael was assigned to the University of Minnesota where he served as the Assistant Marine Officer Instructor for the NROTC Program. In December 1984, after completing the Staff Noncommissioned Officers Academy Advanced Course, he was transferred to Okinawa, Japan to serve as the First Sergeant of Company C, 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion. In January 1986, he was ordered to Marine Barracks, Roosevelt Roads in Puerto Rico, to serve as the barracks's first sergeant.
McMichael served as the director of the Staff Noncommissioned Officers Academy at Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, California from May 1989 to May 1991, after having served as the school's deputy director since August 1988. In May 1991, McMichael was transferred to Quantico again, where he served as the Sergeant Major of Officer Candidates School.
In June 1994, he returned to Okinawa, Japan where he served as the Sergeant Major of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit until July 1995 when he was reassigned as the Sergeant Major of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing. From January 1997 to June 1999, he served as the Sergeant Major for Manpower and Reserve Affairs Division, Headquarters Marine Corps.
On 1 July 1999, McMichael assumed his post as the 14th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, becoming the first African-American to hold the post. His tenure as the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps saw the establishment of the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program and the commencement of the Global War on Terrorism.
In June 2003, deferring his planned retirement, McMichael assumed a newly-created post as the Senior Non-Commissioned Officer for Allied Command Operations, becoming the senior enlisted advisor to General James L. Jones, Supreme Allied Commander, Europe; and Commander, United States European Command, which was technically a demotion from his previous rank and position. He and General Jones previously served together while the latter was the 32nd Commandant of the Marine Corps. McMichael served in this role from June 2003 until July 17, 2006, when he was succeeded by Army Command Sergeant Major Michael Bartelle. He retired from the Marine Corps shortly after with his highest appointed rank of Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps.
Post-military career 
In 2008, McMichael's memoirs were published under the title LEADERSHIP: Achieving Life-Changing Success From Within.
Decorations and honors 
McMichael's personal decorations include:
|Navy Distinguished Service Medal|
|Legion of Merit||Meritorious Service Medal w/ 1 award star||Navy & Marine Corps Commendation Medal w/ 1 award star||Navy & Marine Corps Achievement Medal w/ 1 award star|
|Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation||Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal w/ 11 service stars||National Defense Service Medal w/ 2 service stars||Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon w/ 3 service stars|
|Navy & Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon w/ 2 service stars||Marine Corps Drill Instructor Ribbon w/ 2 service stars||Marine Corps Security Guard Ribbon w/ 1 service star||Special Operations Service Ribbon|
In 2003, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America citing that "the Sergeant Major [had] come a long way from segregated Hot Springs, where the Club was the only colorblind place to play," named McMichael to its "Alumni Hall of Fame." McMichael commented, "The Club gave me those things I use today in the Marine Corps . . . You made a difference in one child’s life." McMichael credits the Club, which he joined at age 9, with giving him a vision of what the world should and could be.
See also 
- Warner, Senator John (March 28, 2006). "Tribute to Sergeant Major Alford L. McMichael". Congressional Record. United States Senate. Retrieved December 19, 2008.
- "Walk the Walk: The Lost Art of Leadership". Leadership. Simon & Schuster. 2008. Retrieved December 19, 2008.
- "Simon & Schuster:Leadership". Simon & Schuster. Retrieved December 19, 2008.
- Sandra Jontz (March 27, 2003). "Marines' top enlisted man tosses out retirement plans, takes NATO job". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 2006-10-01.
- "US Marine Corps Sergeant Major McMichael Appointed First ACO Senior Non-Commissioned Officer". SHAPE News. NATO. 25 September 2003. Archived from the original on 29 September 2006. Retrieved 2006-10-01.
- Jaime L. Wood (July 19, 2006). "NATO new top enlisted named". U.S. European Command. Archived from the original on 3 October 2006. Retrieved 2006-10-01.
- "Sergeant Major Alford L. McMichael, USMC (Retired)". Who's Who in Marine Corps History. History Division, United States Marine Corps. Retrieved December 19, 2008.
- Official NATO ACO Biography
- Interview with Marines Magazine
- Staff Sgt. Mellissa M. Novakovich (U.S. Army) (29 November 2004). "Top enlisted member blazing a trail for future NATO NCOs". SHAPE News. NATO. Archived from the original on 29 September 2006. Retrieved 2006-10-01.
- McMichael, Alford (2008). Leadership. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 1-4165-6228-1.
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Lewis G. Lee
|Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps
John L. Estrada
|New title||Senior NCO of Allied Command Operations