Sergeant Major Alford L. McMichael was born in Hot Springs, Arkansas. He enlisted in the Marine Corps on 27 August 1970 and attended boot camp at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, California.
In June 1971, after completing Infantry Training School and Basic Infantry Training at Camp Pendleton, California, SgtMaj McMichael was assigned to Marine Barracks, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. In May 1973, he was transferred to 2d Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton.
In December 1973, SgtMaj McMichael returned to Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego where he served as a drill instructor, series gunnery sergeant, and battalion drill master. In December 1975, he was transferred to 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton.
In January 1978, SgtMaj McMichael transferred to the 3d Marine Division where he served as a shore party chief with the 3d Division Support Group.
In January 1979, SgtMaj McMichael received orders to Marine Security Guard School and, upon completion of the school, 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, SgtMaj 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, SgtMaj McMichael was transferred to Okinawa, Japan, to serve as the first sergeant of Company C, 3d Reconnaissance Battalion. In January 1986, he was ordered to Marine Barracks, Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, to serve as the barracks' first sergeant.
Sergeant Major McMichael served as the director of the Staff Noncommissioned Officers Academy, 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, SgtMaj McMichael was transferred to Quantico, where he served as the Sergeant Major of Officer Candidates School.
In June 1994, SgtMaj McMichael returned to Okinawa, 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, SgtMaj McMichael served as the Sergeant Major for Manpower and Reserve Affairs Division, Headquarters, U. S. Marine Corps.
Sergeant Major McMichael assumed his post as the 14th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps on July 1, 1999. He left the position on 26 June 2003 to become a senior enlisted advisor to NATO, a newly created post.
Sergeant Major McMichael's personal decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal with gold star, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with gold star, and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with gold star.
SgtMaj. McMichael was the first black SgtMaj. of the Marine Corps.