Effective this month–and every month thereafter until the war’s end in 1945–I will be posting selected actions as they occurred in World War II. This is in response to a number of requests from readers who would like to have discussions with the younger generations about the challenges of war. I will be drawing from my 1991 copy of the excellent reference book WORLD WAR II: America at War, 1941-45 by Norman Polmar and Thomas B. Allen.

May 9 – The German submarine U-110 is captured at sea by the Royal Navy, revealing considerable ENIGMA material.

May 20 – German AIRBORNE troops begin assault of CRETE as part of the BALKANS-GREECE-CRETE CAMPAIGN. The island is held by British and New Zealand troops, mainly withdrawn from Greece, and irregular units.

May 21 – The U.S. freighter Robin Moor is sunk by the German submarine U-69 in the South Atlantic while en route to South Africa. She is the first American merchant ship to be sunk by Germany.

May 27 – President ROOSEVELT broadcasts a declaration of Unlimited National Emergency–“The war is coming very close. . . . [I]t would be suicide to wait until they are in our front yard.”–and proclaims a State of Emergency.

(Source: “WORLD WAR II: America at War, 1941-1945″ by Norman Polmar, Thomas B. Allen)

1-Lucky Me 6 - RootsQuest26In 1991, I went on a roots quest across the United States to meet and interview all of my maternal and paternal relatives that I could find. I spent 70 days on the road in my Chevy Blazer and covered more than 11,000 miles. I kept a journal which then sat on the shelf for the next 24 years. Thanks to the help and good eyes of my wife Sandra, I invite you to click on the link to view a PDF of My 1991 Roots Quest Journal by William L. McGee

In 2014, I tackled a project I had been thinking about for years: writing my memoirs. By the time we reach age 89, most of us have experienced different phases of our lives. So rather than write one memoir, I decided to divide my life into its different phases which, in my case, turned out to be five–or maybe six. With the good eyes and help of my wife Sandra, we completed two memoirs covering the years 1947 to 1989, and published them this year as eBooks available from Amazon. Though I’m not a celebrity or household name, I had the following objective in mind when writing about my life:

“It is my intent that each of my memoirs may inspire anyone without a formal education how they can still succeed in business and life with self-education and generous doses of self-starter and “can do” self-confidence.” –Bill McGee

Cowboyin Years

Broadcasting Years


The Cowboyin’ Years, 1947-1950: A Nevada Dude & Divorce Ranch Memoir
by William L. McGee as told to Sandra V. McGee
I recount “three of the best years of my life” cowboyin’ at Yellowstone, Lake Tahoe, and on the legendary Nevada dude and divorce ranch, the Flying M.E. 186 photographs and illustrations. (Updated/condensed from the 2004 hardcover edition of The Divorce Seekers: A Photo Memoir of a Nevada Dude Wrangler by William L. McGee and Sandra V. McGee.)

The Broadcasting Years, 1958-1989: A Memoir
by William L. McGee as told to Sandra McGee
In 1958, I decided to try for a career in the field that had always interested me: broadcasting. Through hard work and innovative thinking, I’m lucky to enjoy a 32-year career in syndicated television program sales, television and radio representation, and television station management. In 1971 I launch my own company, Broadcast Marketing Company (BMC), which became a nationwide retail sales training and development program for the broadcast industry. I think anyone interested in the early days of television would enjoy this read.

Preview the first 10% of each eBook for free at Amazon.

Bill and Sandra McGee commemorated the 50th Anniversary of D-Day on the Royal Viking Sun, New York to Paris.

Bill and Sandra McGee commemorated the 50th Anniversary of D-Day on the Royal Viking Sun, New York to Paris.

Today is the 70th Anniversary of D-Day and the invasion of Normandy. It’s hard to believe, but 20 years ago this week, Sandra and I were en route to Normandy, France for the 50th Anniversary of D-Day.

I was invited to steam over with other World War II veterans on the historic WWII Liberty ship, the S.S. Jeremiah O’Brien, which had taken part in the 6 June 1944 invasion of Normandy. She would be the only vessel to return to Normandy as part of the 50th anniversary celebration.

However, Sandra talked me into steaming over on a more luxurious ship, the Royal Viking Sun, which was offering a D-Day Anniversary Crossing from Montreal to Paris for WWII veterans.

On board, Captain Ernest Murdock and I led discussion groups about the roles played in the Landings by the U.S. Merchant Marine and Naval Armed Guard gun crews.

Many of the veterans on the cruise had stormed the beaches of Normandy on 6 June, but being from the generation who did not talk about themselves easily, these brave men were in a place where they could finally unburden themselves of some horrific memories. Sandra and I will never forget this voyage.

Author and WWII U.S. Navy Armed Guard veteran Bill McGee attending a Memorial Day Service, May 27, 2013.

Attending a Memorial Day Service, May 27, 2013.

Today I attended a Memorial Day Service in San Rafael, California and was reminded of this little-known fact: In World War II, 145,000 U.S. Navy Armed Guard served on thousands of merchant ships (freighters, tankers and troop transports), and protected and defended the ships from enemy air and submarine attacks. I served in the Naval Armed Guard and wrote about it in my memoir, Bluejacket Odyssey, 1942-1946: From Guadalcanal to Bikini, Naval Armed Guard in the Pacific. I’m always proud to wear my Naval Armed Guard ballcap and jacket–guaranteed to be a conversation starter.

“Little has been written about service in the Naval Armed Guard in which nearly 145,000 men served… William L. McGee remedies this with Bluejacket Odyssey, 1942-1946: From Guadalcanal to Bikini, Naval Armed Guard in the Pacifica book that has value for historians.” —Naval History Magazine

CoverPacificExpress, Vol III I just received the news that my latest military history, PACIFIC EXPRESS: The Critical Role of Military Logistics in World War II, has been selected for the Marine Corps Commandant’s Professional Reading List (aka the Marine Corps Reading List) and is required annual reading for all officer and enlisted Marines, whether active duty or reserve.

PACIFIC EXPRESS — the third and final volume in my series, AMPHIBIOUS OPERATIONS IN THE SOUTH PACIFIC IN WWII — is an edited collection under one cover of the best works by other historians on the importance of military logistics in World War II.

Consider this fact: During World War II, 16.1 million men and women served in the U.S. Armed Forces. However, for every one combatant in the U.S. Armed Forces, there were ten supportive personnel both overseas and on the home front. (Source: Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Record Administrator)

After two decades of researching and writing three other books about the Pacific Theater in World War II, I felt compelled to focus on the subject of logistics to honor all the men and women – military and civilian – who served in logistical support roles for the front line combat personnel. I felt these non-combatant service personnel were (and are) often overshadowed by those who served in combat.

PACIFIC EXPRESS is available from Amazon.

In honor of the 70th Anniversary of the brutal Battle for Guadalcanal, here is an excerpt from The Solomons Campaigns:

“For us who were there, or whose friends were there, Guadalcanal is not a name, but an emotion, recalling desperate fights in the air, furious night naval battles, frantic work at supply or construction, savage fighting in the sodden jungle, nights broken by screaming bombs and deafening explosions of naval shells. Sometimes I dream of a great battle monument on Guadalcanal; a granite monolith on which the names of all who fell and of all ships that rest in Ironbottom Sound may be carved. At other times, I feel that the jagged cone of Savo Island, forever brooding over the blood-thickened waters of the Sound, is the best monument to the men and ships who here rolled back the enemy tide.” -Adm Samuel Eliot Morison 

Excepted from Part I The Solomons Campaigns, 1942-1943: Guadalcanal to Bougainville, Pacific War Turning Point by William L. McGee


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: