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Biography

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Bill McWilliams was born in Brownsville, TX, raised in small towns in Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado and received an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY, through competitive examinations in the third congressional district of Colorado. He entered the Academy from his then home of record, Wagon Wheel Gap, CO. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree, and during a career of service in the Air Force, earned a Master of Science degree in Business Administration from The George Washington University while attending the Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell Air Force Base, AL. He later attended the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle Barracks, PA, where he completed ten months of senior management training, equivalent to a masters degree in public administration.

His Air Force service included assignments as: a flight and classroom instructor in undergraduate pilot training and fighter training; a seven month combat tour in the Republic of Vietnam where he flew 128 fighter-bomber close support and interdiction missions; and a United States Air Force Academy Air Officer Commanding and flight instructor for cadets receiving familiarization training in light aircraft. Later he served in the Republic of Korea for two years, and at the Air Force Tactical Fighter Weapons Center in Las Vegas, NV. After leaving the Air Force he served more than eight years in systems engineering and management positions in industry, including a concept development study for the integrated defense systems for the Air Force’s newest fighter, the F-22 Raptor; systems engineering for the missile sight on the Army’s Bradley Fighting Vehicle and the ground mapping and navigation sensors for the Navy’s Tomahawk Cruise Missile; management system evaluation and auditing in various production programs, including Hughes Aircraft Company’s satellite production program.

He has broad experience in interview, investigative research, management system evaluation and improvement; process improvement, facilitator and auditing work, in both the public and private sectors. While serving in operational and management positions, he conducted investigations and published reports on contentious and sensitive management, civil service, and military personnel issues, and participated, in various capacities, in investigating and reporting causes of fourteen major, U.S. Air Force aircraft accidents. He negotiated government employee-union contracts, resolved trade union disputes and personnel complaints, worked with state and local governments as a major installation commander, and led and completed numerous management system analyses, evaluations, and audits, then internally published results.

His writing includes a self-published, major 1,144 page Korean War history and true story, A Return to Glory: The Untold Story of Honor, Dishonor, and Triumph at the United States Military Academy, 1950-1953; articles, columns, and letters published in: newspapers in San Luis Obispo, Morro Bay, and Thousand Oaks, CA; Los Alamos, NM; Elko, NV and Bryan, TX; Air Force Maintenance Magazine; VFW Magazine; base and company newspapers; a variety of Air Force safety publications; the United States Military Academy Association of Graduates magazine, Assembly; fraternal and professional organization newsletters.

In February 2000, before Warwick House Publishing’s August 2000 release of A Return to Glory, the US Military Academy, joint faculty-graduate, Bicentennial Planning Group unanimously selected the work as a Bicentennial Book, granting imprint of the Academy’s Bicentennial logo on the book jacket cover, book cover, and title page.

In March 2005, Los Angeles-based Orly Adelson Productions, Inc., under contract with ESPN Original Entertainment, purchased television film rights for A Return to Glory, with ESPN planning for a movie based on the book, and a related documentary, based in part on the book. ESPN aired the one-hour, Winnercomm, Inc. documentary, “Brave Old Army Team,” on 6 December 2005, followed four days later with ESPN Original Entertainment’s highly successful, two-hour, made-for-TV movie, “Code Breakers.” ESPN subsequently released a “Code Breakers” DVD on 11 July 2006, which included the “Brave Old Army Team” documentary. The author was granted unprecedented access in the movie and documentary productions, participating as unpaid, voluntary consultants in both, three script reviews for the movie, plus script reviewer for factual accuracy and on-screen interviewee in the documentary.

His second book, On Hallowed Ground, The Last Battle for Pork Chop Hill, published by the United States Naval Institute Press in cooperation with the Association of the United States Army was released in hardback October 2003, while the author participated in an AUSA-sponsored Authors’ Forum in Washington, DC. The work is a detailed account of the 6-11 July 1953 final battle for the outpost, three weeks prior to the Korean War armistice. In October 2004, after purchasing subsidiary rights, Berkley Caliber Books, an imprint of Penguin Group, USA, published the work in trade paperback. On October 20, 2015, Open Road Integrated Media, published a new, updated edition in E-Book format .

His third major nonfiction work is Sunday in Hell: Pearl Harbor Minute by Minute, a powerful new history of the devastating December 7, 1941, Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, including the desperate and chaotic 24-hour aftermath, followed by the succeeding 24 days' struggle in the Pacific as America plunged headlong into World War II. Filled with stunning facts; numerous, emotion-filled surprises, seldom-heard or never-before-told stories, including a magnificent, true love story; the beginning of the sea-borne evacuation, in convoys, of more than 20,000 total wounded, civilians, and military dependents from the island of Oahu to San Francisco; the first two troopship convoys to leave the West Coast for Hawaii, and extensive Japanese submarine activity in support of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Published in e-book and print-on-demand formats in November 2011, by ereads.com, a pioneering e-book company founded by owner Richard Curtis in 1999. Contains 121 photographs, maps and diagrams. In April 2014, Open Road Integrated Media purchased ereads.com and since the purchase markets the book and manages the contract for Sunday in Hell.

This final military history is a virtually unknown, true story - about two 1941 collegiate football teams temporarily stranded on Oahu, The Territory of Hawaii, by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. The two teams, Willamette University of Salem, OR, and San Jose State College, of San Jose, CA, had sailed from San Francisco on the Matson Lines' SS Lurline on November 27, to play two games against the University of Hawaii, then play one more game against each other, all three games for charitable purposes.


The manuscript is complete, and the title is Scrimmage for War: A Story of Pearl Harbor, Football, and World War II. The hardback book's planned release date is October 1, 2019, by Stackpole Books, a ninety year old Pennsylvania publishing company well known for their military history titles on the Civil War, World War II and the Vietnam War.

 
For Saturday, December 6, 1941, readers are provided a play-by-play description, including still, color photographs, either in the narrative or on the author's personal website, of the Shrine Bowl Game, in which Willamette's Bearcats were defeated by Hawaii's Rainbows 20-6. San Jose State College of San Jose, CA, was to play the following Saturday, but both remaining games were cancelled as was their five-day voyage home on the Lurline, scheduled for December 19, which would have allowed the two teams to be home for Christmas.


Instead, in mid-afternoon on December 7, both teams were literally mobilized under force of martial law, and pressed into wartime duties they'd never previously performed, to help defend an island they had simply come with a few fans to enjoy. Their duties the evening of December 7, included stringing barbed wire, digging and manning firing positions with active duty military on Waikiki Beach, and around their Hotel Moana, adjacent to Waikiki Beach. The following Tuesday Willamette University players began twenty-four-hour sentry duties around the large Punahou (High) School campus, which had been appropriated by the Army engineers in the early hours of December 8; while San Jose State's players had begun working with the Honolulu Police Department and Federal authorities in rounding up Japanese, Italian and German aliens and enforcing wartime blackout orders to the Hawaiian populace.

 
Then, with two hours' notice on December 19, both teams were ordered to board the former luxury liner, SS President Coolidge, in a two-ship convoy, escorted by the cruiser, USS Detroit, and the destroyer Cummings. The Coolidge, which had arrived from Manila, P.I., on December 16, with the US Army Transport General Hugh L. Scott (formerly the liner SS President Pierce), took on approximately 400 additional passengers above the ship's normal load, nearly all military and contractor dependents, women and children, including some Pearl Harbor widows with children, plus medical staff; and 125 severely wounded Pearl Harbor survivors, including 30 terribly burned survivors from ships in Pearl Harbor.

  
Billeted in steerage, the two teams were once again assigned wartime duties, requiring them to help the medical staff and ship's crew care for the wounded, and if necessary to assist wounded, women, and children to their assigned lifeboat stations if a Japanese submarine were successful in attacking the Coolidge. Additionally, each day the team members, during lifeboat drills, assisted in moving their designated passengers, who could be assisted, to their lifeboat stations.

 

The slow-moving convoy sailed seven days to San Francisco beginning December 19 - through waters patrolled by Japanese submarines which began attacking allied vessels in various areas around the islands during and immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor, along shipping lanes to Australia, then began attacks up and down the West Coast on December 17.


The book is in two parts, and Part II follows 12 team members, ten from Willamette and two from San Jose State, plus the Willamette head coach, Roy S. "Spec" Keene, and his long-time friend and former mayor of Salem, OR, State Senator Douglas McKay, through their lives and World Wars I and II experiences. Additionally, in Part II readers fly on Fifteenth Air Force, World War II B-17 raids from Lucera, Italy, into the Balkans - including the Ploesti oil refineries - and equally heavily defended targets in Austria, Germany, Poland; and over Berlin from the famed 91st Bomb Group (Heavy), from an Eighth Air Force base in the United Kingdom; numerous Fifteenth Air Force B-25 raids against heavily defended targets up and down Italy, over Corsica, in the Mediterranean Sea, and in Southern France. 


From Italy and the United Kingdom, readers go with the men from Willamette into the Pacific campaigns: on Guadalcanal, the disastrous torpedo bomber raid against Japanese ships in Rabaul's Simpson Harbor on the Island of New Georgia; the recapture of Guam; Marine aviators' dangerous, highly classified, high-altitude reconnaissance missions over Truk Atoll preceding Operation Hailstone, an operation aimed at destruction of Japanese Navy capabilities based in the Atoll; the battles for Saipan and Tinian, the invasion of, and battle for Iwo Jima - including Kamikaze attacks on the iconic aircraft carrier USS Saratoga - off Iwo Jima; the invasion of Okinawa, planning and preparations for the invasion of the Japanese home islands, and the pre-invasion build-up in the far western Pacific's Ulithi Atoll; President Truman's decision to invade the Japanese home islands, followed by his decision to use the atomic bomb to attempt to end the war prior to the planned invasion; and  P-38L raids from the Philippine Islands against the Island of Borneo, in the final two months of World War II.


Married to his beautiful wife, Ronnie, for more than sixty years, beginning the day after he graduated from the Military Academy, he is now remarried after she passed away, a victim of Alzheimer's Disease on November 1, 2015, while undergoing in-home care. On October 15, 2016, he married the former Anna Marie Bates in his Las Vegas, NV, home, before 31 guests, including members of both families, and subsequently moved to Orem, UT, to Anna's home, on January 29, 2017. Bill's and Ronnie's three grown children include a son and daughter who reside with their families in Star and Boise, ID, and a daughter who temporarily resides in her parents' former home in Las Vegas, NV. Anna's grown children, a daughter and two sons, live in Orem, UT, Salt Lake City, and San Clemente, CA.