Fourteenth Sgt. Maj. of the Marine Corps shares experiences with MarForPac
By Cpl. Cristina Noelia Gil
| | November 10, 2009
CAMP H.M. SMITH, Hawaii --
Alford L. McMichael, fourteenth sergeant major of the Marine Corps, spoke to U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific Marines and sailors at the Pollock Theater Nov. 10.
On the Marine Corps’ 234th birthday, McMichael reminded Marines and sailors of their mission and encouraged them to make the best of what the service has to offer. He urged them to continue to uphold the warrior spirit Marines are known for.
“We as Marines have made our foes think twice about crossing the line,” McMichael said. “We never go down without a fight. They might bend us, but they’ll never break us.”
During his more than 36 years of service, McMichael went from a young infantry Marine to becoming the first African-American to hold the title of Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps. He also became the first sergeant major to serve as the Sergeant Major of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
During his tenure he saw firsthand the ever-changing nature of the organization, from uniforms and policies to technology, combat operations and the implementation of the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program. He noted that one thing that never changed is the pride and distinction Marines serve with.
“Once you step on those yellow footprints and are transformed into a Marine, there’s no turning back. There is no expiration date on being a Marine,” McMichael said.
Using skills he acquired throughout his years in the Marines, McMichael now serves as a mentor for high school children in New York City, Foley, Ala. and Pensacola, Fla.
Through these efforts he encourages teenagers to pursue excellence in all aspects of life and helps instill the leadership skills he acquired through the Corps.