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 7 December 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.
A work in progress soon going on the publishers' marketplace, is his final book for publication, Voyage to Paradise, Return from Hell, a sports and military history centering on two 1941 West Coast collegiate football teams, Willamette University (Salem, OR) and San Jose State College, CA, temporarily stranded on Oahu, The Territory of Hawaii, by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Mobilized under force of martial law the afternoon of December 7, to perform wartime missions - until their abrupt 19 December, two-hour notice to board the former luxury liner, SS President Coolidge to sail in convoy, escorted by two Navy combatants, through submarine-infested waters to San Francisco. It was an unforgettable wartime passage that changed their lives forever, for on board the overcrowded Coolidge were 125 severely wounded military, including 30 horribly burned survivors from ships in Pearl Harbor - plus an additional 400 evacuees, military and civilian dependents ordered from Oahu, the great majority women and children, including some who had lost husbands and fathers in the attack.
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 resides with her husband near Philipsburg, MT. Anna's grown children, a daughter and two sons, live in Orem, UT, Salt Lake City, and San Clemente, CA.