Sentry Post In Navy Yard Prompts
'Mr. Pistol' Into Shooting Career

by SSgt. Frank Saldana

Two years ago a champion Army pistol shooter who dominated the National Matches at Camp Perry for five consecutive years was asked who he considered the most promising pistol shot. He, without hesitation, pointed to a tall, blue-eyed lieutenant sighting-in at a nearby target.

That lieutenant is today's "Mr. World Pistol" - Capt. William W. McMillan - who without question has more than lived up to Army MSgt. Huelet "Joe" Benner's prediction.

Amid plaudits and acclaim, the captain reached the pinnacle of pistol match competition in August at Moscow when he was proclaimed World Pistol Champion.

Capt. McMillan, an unassuming and friendly individual, has virtually cornered the market on smashing pistol records and accepts his laurels modestly, almost boyishly.

The MTU pistol coach and captain is regarded by his contemporaries and persons who meet him as an outstanding gentleman and Marine.

When the captain "busts caps" (shoots) on M range at Camp Matthews, veteran and neophyte shooters, alike, gather around the firing line to watch him put them into the black.

When asked questions or tips on shooting, Mr. Pistol always has the time to answer, explain and assist the inquirer with his problems.

However, a scant decade ago, as a young Pfc., Capt. McMillan wasn't a qualified pistol shot. He had the dubious honor of walking the only rifle sentry post on a bleak, windswept pier in the Brooklyn Navy yard.

"I was the only one at Marine Barracks not qualified with the pistol so that was the only post I could stand," he explained with a shy grin.

His lonely vigil on that pier was soon to come to an end.

As an Expert Rifleman, the Pennsylvanian was selected to help represent the barracks in the '49 Eastern Division Matches at Quantico.

While there, the sage advice "shoot the pistol in the afternoon or pick up brass" was passed on him by a CWO Whittiker, who was familiar with range procedure. The captain shot a respectable 285x400 to become a pistol marksman.

The following year, 1950, the one-man pistol team returned to Quantico as a rifle coach, teaching marksmanship to "requals" and future officers.

During his spare time Capt. McMillan practiced, practiced and practiced some more, firing an average 60 rounds daily with the pistol.

He earned his First Gold medal during the Eastern Division Matches of '51 and placed fourth in the National Pistol Matches held in San Francisco that same year. [Correction: Placed 5th at the National Matches in 1952 and earned his first gold medal at the Eastern Division Matches in 1949]

Like most Marines at that time, Korea beckoned. He now fired his sighters with heavier hardware, a 75mm recoilless rifle. Capt. McMillan was Anti-Tank Assault Infantry Unit Leader, serving with the 1stBn., 7th Marines.

Having discarded SSgt. stripes for a commission, the captain returned to the states in 1953 and two years later found himself proclaimed winner of the coveted Lauchheimer Trophy at Parris Island.

He remained at the East Coast counterpart, serving as a recruit company officer until his assignment to the then newly formed Marksmanship Training Unit just two years ago.

Since that time Capt. McMillan's name has appeared in print almost weekly as he won match after match and broke record after record.

Though he met and outshot the best pistolmen throughout the US, Mexico, Venezuela and Europe, he considers a local match as the high point in his shooting career.

Shooting in the Southland Pistol Matches here in San Diego, Capt. McMillan blasted the .22, .38 and .45 aggregate record of five-years standing and held by MSgt. Benner with a 2645x2700, one-point better than that set by the Army shooter.

Mr. World Pistol, in subsequent matches, bettered his mark by seven points, and last year became the first Marine in match history to hold simultaneously the Custer Trophy and Harrison Cup, the nation's two top pistol awards as well as winning the NRA Pistol Championship. MSgt. Benner was the first to congratulate him.

The captain's pride is his two-year-old son, whom he affectionately calls "Wild Bill." Though a devoted family man and a stay-at-home, he spends approximately four months out of the year traveling to various parts of the country to represent the Corps in pistol competition. He is presently in El Paso, Tex.

Artwork by Bill Hammond
MCRD Chevron, October 17, 1958

New Link

San Diego Law Enforcement Badge History is a site covering the historical aspects of various badges of law enforcement within San Diego County.

Roger Sullivan's Obituary and Medal Collection

A list of medals Mr. Sullivan acquired. Sometime after his death, the collection was sold to a friend of his, who is also a collector.

Brief Italian Article

Found this Italian article on the rapid-fire pistol machines developed by Joseph Sibani and his son Sergio used at the 1960 XVII Olympiad held in Rome, Italy. There a several pictures of Mr. Sibani and Dad.

Various Links

Brian Enos forum on the 1979 first annual Bianchi Cup where Dad was the guest of honor and guest speaker at this event.

Photograph of the new exibit at the NRA National Sporting Arms Museum at the Bass Pro Shops, Springfield, Missouri of Dad's Olympic Gold Medal and High Standard Pistol he used during the 1960 Olympics in Rome, Italy. The photo is credited to Mike Suchan.


Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) - Christine Elder & Michelle Woods
Marine Base, Camp Pendleton Museum & Archives - Faye Jonason
Marine Corps History Division & Gray Research Center - Alisa Whitney & Lindsay Kleinow
Marine Corps Recruit Depot Library, Parris Island - Stephen Wise
Marine Corps Recruit Depot Library, San Diego - Dan Cisco
Marine Corps Recruit Depot Museum, San Diego, Barbara McCurtis & Ellen Guillemette
Marine Corps Sports - Donna Janiec, Maj Billy Canedo, 2dLt Jason Pecore & Cpl Henderson
National Museum of the Marine Corps - Gretchen Winterer & Jennifer Castro
National Rifle Association - Paul Nordquist, H.Q. Moody & Lois Wenzell
National Firearms Museum - Doug Wicklund & Amber Lammers
Norwegian Shooting Association - Dag Olav Rønning & Unni Nicolaysen
USA Shooting - Wanda Jewell
U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit - Nancy Pool
WTBn, Quantico - Col. Tim Armstrong, Capt. Nick Roberge & GySgt Chris Stephens

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