Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery
Point Loma, California

"Day is done, gone the sun
From the lakes, from the hills, from the sky
All is well, safely rest
God is nigh.
Fading light dims the sight
And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright
From afar, drawing near
Falls the night.
Thanks and praise for our days
Neath the sun, neath the stars, neath the sky
As we go, this we know
God is nigh."

Photo Photo

William McMillan, 71

ENCINITAS - William W. McMillan Jr., 71 died Saturday, June 10, 2000, at his home.

Born Jan. 29, 1929, in Frostburg, Md., he served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1948 to 1974, retiring as lieutenant colonel. He received an Olympic Gold Medal in 1960 for shooting and served as special weapons training officer with the San Diego County Sheriff's Department.

Mr. McMillan is survived by his sons, Matthew McMillan of Escondido and Billy McMillan of San Diego; daughter Karen McMillan of Carlsbad; and sister Clara Szumetz of Hagerstown, Md.

A private cremation is planned with private inurnment to take place at Fort Rosecrans National Cemtery in Point Loma.

El Camino Memorial, Encinitas Chapel, is handling arrangements.

North County Times, June 14, 2000

Bill McMillan; won gold medal for shooting at 1960 Olympics

By Jack Williams

Like a true Olympic champion, Bill McMillan performed best when he was under the gun.

At the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, before a three-man shoot-off for the gold medal in rapid-fire pistol shooting, Mr. McMillan stunned his rivals by taking a nap.

"I think it kind of unnerved the other shooter," he said.

In any case, it seemed to energize Mr. McMillan, who won the shoot-off after the two-hour break, the high point of a shooting career marked by six Olympic appearances and world and national championships.

Mr. McMillan died of congestive heart failure June 10 at his home in Encinitas. He was 71.

A former Weapons Coordinator for the county Sheriff's Department, Mr. McMillan had been disabled since an accidental shooting in May 1980 in a Sheriff's firearms training exercise.

He was hit twice in the chest by bullets from a .357-caliber Magnum pistol, fired by another deputy at the Camp Elliott range. "He lost the use of his right side, had difficulty walking and vision problems," said his son, Matthew.

Mr. McMillan, who was right-handed, was never able to shoot or teach his specialty again.

Before the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan prompted President Carter to order a U.S. boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, Mr. McMillan hoped to land a U.S.-record seventh Olympic berth.

Although the injuries cut short his competitive career, Mr. McMillan expressed no bitterness. "Of course, you never this to happen to anybody, but if it had to happen, I'm glad it had to happen on the downside of my prowess," he told The Tribune in 1985.

Before the injury, he had told a reporter that he felt he could stay competitive for several more years. "I've never reached my potential because I haven't competed regularly enough," he said.

By the time he was disabled, Mr. McMillan's shooting career already had been distinguished by its longevity in a sport dominated by young Russians and East Germans. "I'm competing against the sons of men I faced years ago," he told The Tribune in 1980. "I'm in the twilight zone."

Mr. McMillan's three decades of dominance in the sport led to his induction into the U.S. International Shooting Hall of Fame in Dallas. In 1981, he was enshrined in the Breitbard Hall of Fame for elite San Diego athletes at the Hall of Champions in Balboa Park.

In his finest hour at the 1960 Olympics, Mr. McMillan shot 587 out of a possible 600, tying the world record at the time. It wasn't his high score - he once shot a 594 - but it was the ultimate in pressure performances.

Contesting a Russian and a Finn for the gold medal after a three-way tie, he maintained the relaxation vital to excelling in his sport. "The Russian was pretty uptight, pacing up and down," he later recalled.

Meanwhile, Mr. McMillan, who felt at his best after no more than five hours of sleep the night before an important competition, enjoyed a short catnap.

Mr. McMillan, a retired Marine Corps lieutenant colonel, began competing in 1949 in the military. "It just turned out that I was a natural," he said.

He finished seventh in his first Olympics - 1952 in Helsinki, Finland - and showed his versatility by winning an all-Marine rifle championship in 1955 at Parris Island, S.C.

Mr. McMillan was denied a berth in the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, Australia, by a mechanical failure.

"My gun jammed twice during the tryouts and I was disqualified," he told a reporter for The Leatherneck in 1994. "I felt bad because I was shooting good and about 20 points ahead."

He won the world championships in 1954 and 1958 and a national title in 1957.

Mr. McMillan was born William W. McMillan Jr. in Frostburg, Md., grew up in Turtle Creek, Pa. He enlisted in the Marine Corps after graduating from high school.

He served as an infantryman in the Korean War and was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1953.

In 1969, as an ordnance officer in Vietnam, he was awarded a Bronze Star.

Upon retiring from active service in 1974, Mr. McMillan joined the county Sheriff's Department as Weapons Training Coordinator.

In that capacity, he designed the department's first shootout scenarios for training, said Sheriff's Department spokesman Ron Reina. "Shoot-or-don't-shoot scenarios, we call them," Reina said.

Mr. McMillan also made recommendations for body armor, short-barreled shotguns and ammunition for patrol vehicles during his nearly seven years with the department.

He is survived by a daughter, Karen McMillan of Carlsbad; sons, Matthew of Escondido and Billy of San Diego; and a sister, Clara Szumetz of Hagerstown, Md.

Cremation was planned, followed by private inurnment at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery. Donations are suggested to the Association for Retarded Citizens, 1550 Hotel Circle North, Suite 410, San Diego, CA 92108.

San Diego Union-Tribune, June 15, 2000


Died of congestive heart failure, June 10, 2000, at his home in Encinitas CA, at the age of 71; Mr. McMillan was born in Frostburg MD and grew up in Turtle Creek PA, where after graduating from high school enlisted in the Marine Corps. Mr. McMillan, a retired Marine Lt. Col., began competing in 1949 in shooting matches in the military. He represented the U.S. in six Olympics and won a Gold Medal for shooting at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. Upon retiring from active service, Mr. McMillan joined the Sheriff's Dept. in San Diego as Weapons Training Coordinator. He is survived by a daughter, Karen McMillan of Carlsbad, CA; sons, Matthew of Escondido and Billy of San Diego; and a sister Clara Mae Szumetz of Hagerstown MD. Cremation was conducted followed by private interment.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 16, 2000

William W. McMillan Jr.

Lieutenant Colonel William W. "Mister Pistol" McMillan Jr., Korean War veteran and dead-eye pistol shot who brought home a gold medal from the 1960 Olympics, died in Encinitas, Calif. He was 71.

Enlisting at age 17, McMillan earned a field commission during the Korean War. It was on the Corps firing ranges that he excelled. As a captain, he held the individual Corps rifle and pistol match records, Lauchheimer and McDougal Trophy records, the international rapid-fire record and the pistol championship for national matches.

In the November 1960 issue, Leatherneck reported that during a 1959 pistol match, the Marines were being outshot. McMillan pointed out that he and his partner needed to shoot "a pair of 290s" to win. The Marines stepped up and shot. When the scores were tabulated they had fired 289 and 291 for a 290 average.

But, it was in Rome during the 1960 Olympics that the-Capt McMillan was one of two Marines who were the only Americans to win medals in Olympic shooting that year. The other medal winner was Gunnery Sergeant James E. Hill, who won a silver medal in the small bore rifle competition. McMillan outshot the Russians and the Finns to earn his gold medal.

For years, thousands of recruits were motivated to fire the pistol by watching a Marine Corps film featuring Capt McMillan. In the film, he used mirrors and the reflection from his class ring to fire rounds in the bull's-eye.

After leaving the Corps, McMillan trained the counter-sniper SWAT personnel and was the Weapons Training Coordinator with the San Diego Sheriff's Department.

Leatherneck Magazine, October 2000

Magic Words for Shooters From Bill McMillan

It was with great sadness that I learned of the death of Lieutenant Colonel Bill McMillan ("In Memoriam," October 2000), with whom I had the great pleasure of working in Okinawa from 1964 to 1965. He had the known-distance ranges, and I had the combat ranges.

I can honestly say the he was one of the finest Marines I ever knew. And, what a shooter! He won Gold Medals at both Helsinki and Tokyo with his prowess in the art of pistol shooting.

Then-Captain Al Lamb commanded Company A, 3d Tank Battalion. He invited Bill and me to come to the tank range at Camp Schwab to observe and to fire the 90 mm tank cannon. There was one condition, however. Bill had to put on a shooting demonstration for Lamb's tanker Marines. We arrived there, observed the M48A1 tanks firing, and then were invited to shoot a couple of 90 mm rounds.

That being done, Bill put on a pistol shooting exhibition which really impressed the troops. When he was done, he asked if any of the tank crew members were unqualified with the pistol (which is their T/O or Table of Organization weapon). One shy, embarrassed Marine stepped forward. Bill loaded the .45-caliber with a magazine and five rounds, handed the pistol to the youngster and told him to fire at the silhouette target. The kid fired five times and missed five times. Bill then took him aside, whispered into his ear for about 15 seconds, reloaded the pistol with five rounds and told the lad to shoot. He hit the black bull's-eye four times and had one hanging just out of the black.

I had to ply Bill with much refreshment at the O'Club before he would tell me what he had whispered into that boy's ear, but he finally did.

"Make the front sight blade your point of eye focus," was the advice he gave. I tried it, and my already respectable pistol score went up to admiration level.

I hope Bill is holding marksmanship training for those Marines guarding the streets where he has gone.

Maj. Gene Duncan, USMC (Ret), Boonville, Mo.
Leatherneck Magazine December 2000

Farewell to a Great Shooter

Lt. Col. William McMillan, USMC (Ret.) died June 10, 2000, at his home in Encinitas, Calif., as a result of congestive heart failure. His long involvement in the shooting sports began in 1949 when he competed in the military. After establishing himself as a highly skilled shooter, McMillan competed in his first Olympics in 1952. In 1955, at Parris Island, S.C., McMillan won the first of an unprecedented five Lauchheimer awards for being the Marine Corps' combined champion rifle and pistol shot. He later went on to compete in the 1956 Olympics, but was disqualified when his gun jammed. Undeterred, McMillan went on and won the 1958 World Shooting Championship. It was at the Summer Olympics of 1960 in Rome that he entered his finest hour. McMillan shot 587 out of a possible 600, tied the world record at the time and won the gold medal. Interestingly, he took a catnap in the middle of the competition, which apparently unnerved his competitors. Building upon his past successes and several Olympic appearances, McMillan hoped to land a U.S. record seventh Olympic berth in 1980, but was prevented by the U.S. boycott of the Summer Olympics in Moscow. He is survived by a daughter, Karen McMillan, sons Matthew and Billy; and a sister, Clara Szumetz.

American Rifleman, March 2001

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