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 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 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 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 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, 1950-53; 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, "Faces of Sports: 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 an unpaid, voluntary consultant for "Code Breakers," and a fact checker and on-screen interviewee for 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. A screen play by the author, based on the book, is a work in progress.
His third major history, Sunday in Hell: Pearl Harbor Minute by Minute, is a powerful, meticulously-researched, vivid new account of the devastating 7 December 1941, Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Oahu’s military, civilian airfields and other targets of opportunity; and the 24-hour and 24-day aftermath in December 1941, including the surprisingly extensive Japanese submarine attacks in waters surrounding Hawaii, off the American West Coast, and in the sea lanes between Hawaii and the mainland; the first two troopship convoys from the West Coast to Hawaii following the attack; the beginning of the sea borne evacuation of more than 20,000 total, wounded; military dependents, non-essential federal and contract employees and their dependents from the island of Oahu to San Francisco. Published in November 2011, just prior to the 70th anniversary remembrance of the Japanese attack, by http://ereads.com/, a pioneering E-book company. The book’s release was accompanied by a preview of the book in words and photographs on the author’s website, http://www.west-point.org/class/usma1955/D/M/PHP.htm.
He and his wife, Ronnie, married the day after he graduated from the Military Academy, live in Las Vegas, NV. They have three grown children, a son and a daughter who reside with their families in Boise, ID, and a daughter who resides with her husband near Philipsburg, MT.
Five-part series newspaper article published in the Elko Daily Free Press, Elko, NV, beginning November 5, through November 11, 2004. "Gerald B. Whiterock, All-American: Valor Forever." Based on the book On Hallowed Ground, The Last Battle for Pork Chop Hill, and additional research completed after the book was published, the article tells the tragic but inspiring true story of the only Nevada soldier killed in action on Pork Chop Hill, during the 6-11 July 1953 final battle for the outpost. Gerald Whiterock was an 18-year old Western Shoshone Indian from the Duck Valley Indian Reservation, astride the Nevada-Idaho border, northeast of Elko. He enlisted in the Army one day after his 18th birthday in October 1952, and was killed in action on Pork Chop Hill the morning of 9 July, less than three weeks prior to the Korean War armistice. A member of I Company, 3d Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, he was in a two-company counterattack intended to drive the Chinese from commanding positions they had held on the crest of the hill for three days.
Five-part series newspaper article published weekly in the Los Alamos Monitor, Los Alamos, NM, beginning September 5, through October 31, 2004. "The 1st Hilltoppers: Birth of a Winning Tradition." Tells the delightful, inspiring, true story of the first three seasons of interscholastic competition, 1946-48, at Los Alamos High School, as the home of the World War II Manhattan Project – Project Y - was coming out from under its tightly-held cloak of secrecy. Project Y gave birth to the small high school, which graduated only two students in August 1944, three in June 1945, and seven in 1946, and the high school fielded their first football team in September of that year, 14 months following the test of the first atomic bomb at White Sands, NM on 16 July 1945. In their first season they went 8-0, with a graduating class of 20 young men and women. At the end of their first season, they had established a winning tradition and statewide recognition in New Mexico, and ended their first three seasons with a total 19-2-2 record.
Football History, two-part serial article in Assembly magazine, Jan/Feb and Mar/Apr 1998. "Army-Duke 1953: A Football Game Never to be Forgotten." The inspiring, true story of the Army football team’s turnaround game in the turnaround season of 1953. In two grueling football seasons following the disastrous honor incident announced 3 August 1951, Army went 2-7 and 4-4-1, equaling the total losses under Coach Earl H. "Red" Blaik in his previous ten seasons. In the fourth game of the 1953 season, the unranked cadets, sporting a 2-1 record on the year, upset the number-seven-ranked, 4-0, Duke University Blue Devils, 14-13, in New York City’s Polo Grounds. Called by many sports writers "the college game of the year," the victory set Army’s team and the Corps of Cadets afire, inspiring them to remain undefeated the remainder of a 7-1-1 season, and a return to the national rankings.
Football History, two-part serial article, Assembly Magazine. "Vince Lombardi at West Point: The Early Days of a Football Legend." Drawing on research for A Return to Glory, this article is filled with true stories and warm vignettes from Vince Lombardi’s tumultuous five seasons under the head coach Vince most admired and whom Vince credited as his greatest gridiron teacher, Army’s Earl H. "Red" Blaik. The piece spans Army’s difficult 1951-53 seasons, when the Academy, Blaik, his coaches, and team were rebuilding following the disastrous 1951 cheating scandal – which wiped out Army’s greatly admired, nationally ranked team after a ten-year run to football glory, with possibly a fourth national championship in 1951. Investigative History.
A two-part serial article published in Assembly magazine, Nov/Dec 2001-Jan/Feb 2002, about a 1951 man-made institutional crisis at West Point involving honor, ethics and truth telling. "The 1951 Honor Incident: Myths, Facts and Lessons." Using research material from A Return to Glory, the piece summarizes the never-publicly-told story of behind the scenes events associated with the 1951 honor incident at West Point, and responds to an error-filled article, "Code Breakers," written by well-known sports writer Frank Deford and published in Sports Illustrated magazine’s 13 November 2000 issue. The cadets involved in organized cheating were participating in far more serious activities than were ever made known to the Corps of Cadets, Academy graduates, and the public. Examples were: conspiracy to cheat, to lie about the existence of cheating if ever confronted with evidence, 22 of 83 found guilty and
discharged, lied under oath when they first appeared for sworn testimony, intimidation of witnesses, attempting to discredit the board of officers investigating the incident, deliberately planning and successfully electing two company honor committee representatives who were involved in cheating, and threatening cadets who volunteered to go under cover to expose the cheating.
Military History, article published in Assembly magazine, Jan/Feb 2004, "The 1953 Battles for Pork Chop Hill." Based on the book, On Hallowed Ground, The Last Battle for Pork Chop Hill, the article summarizes the events leading to the final, bloody 6-11 July 1953 battle for the outpost, and centers on the roles numerous Academy graduates from different classes played in the battle, all the way from the Commander in Chief, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, class of 1915, down to infantry and engineer platoon leaders, from the class of 1952.
Military history article published in VFW magazine, Jun/Jul 2003 issue, "The Last Battle for Pork Chop Hill."?Based on the book, On Hallowed Ground, The Last Battle for Pork Chop Hill, the piece details the initial assault on Pork Chop Hill the night of 6 July 1953 by units of the 200th Regiment, Chinese Communist 67th Division, against A Company, 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, to begin the five day battle for the outpost – which resulted in 243 Americans killed in action and 916 wounded, with the Chinese suffering an estimated 6,050 total killed and wounded.
Military History, a two-part serial article in Assembly Magazine, "Once More Into the Fire." A true story from the West Point class of 1950’s baptism in battle early in the Korean War. Centered on Lt. David R. Hughes, who like many of his classmates, was ordered to report as a platoon leader in front line units – without benefit of up-to-date infantry branch school training – the narrative follows Lt Hughes in King Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, several members of his class and other classes, in the bitter first year of the war, in which the historic 7th Cavalry Regiment of George Armstrong Custer fame, sees victory at hand by Christmas 1950, then suffers great loss and retreat when the Chinese intervene massively across the Yalu River in late October of that year. Lt Hughes progresses from platoon leader to company commander in the year of the "yo yo war", and, with the 1st Cavalry Division and all its regiments is pulled off the line in November 1951, from a position on the crest of Hill 347 – which looks down to the northeast on Outpost Pork Chop.
Text of a talk given to the Cadet Honor Committee on 3 December 2001 and published in Assembly magazine, May/Jun 2002 issue. "The 1951 Honor Incident: Lessons from an Avoidable Tragedy." Using research material from A Return to Glory and other sources, the piece is the text of a talk given to the Cadet Honor Committee at West Point on the facts and circumstances of the 1951 honor incident. The author explains the purposes and practical value of officer candidates taking action when violations of the cadet honor code are observed, and relates the cadet honor code to the officer code and leadership.