Portrait of a veteran:
Maloney recounts extraordinary acts of service
November 16, 2016
Children in the Cassville area like to bump into Bill Maloney, a retired realtor from the area. When they do, Maloney pulls out a stack of one dollar bills from his shirt pocket and gives them a dollar. No rhyme or reason, just a random act of kindness. But for those kids, as well as the adults in the area who have crossed paths with Maloney, they don’t realize his history nor do they know his stories of service in the United States Air Force that seem larger than life.
Maloney is a pleasant, jovial man. At 85 years old, he’s still sharp as a tack, retelling stories from years past like they just happened yesterday, and at first, his tales seem a bit too fantastical to be believed. But if doubt creeps in, making you wonder if he’s pulling your leg, he can show you a photo of Air Force One signed for him by President Richard Nixon’s pilot, and you believe again.
Maloney was raised on a farm on the White River just south of Barry County in Arkansas. After high school, he went to college in Springfield at the business college there. While in college, he joined the naval reserves, and then enlisted with the Air Force.
Maloney’s beginnings in the Air Force were unusual, to say the least. He said, “Well, they gave me that first test, and I got 100 percent on it. Out of 144 who took the test, I was the only one who scored 100. Then, they didn’t believe me, so I took it again and got 100 again. Every test they gave me in the service, I never missed one. And they just couldn’t believe that.” Maloney’s perfect test scores caught the eye of some of the more prominent officers, and he was assigned to be in intelligence.
During the Korean War, Maloney and his wife, Virginia, were stationed in Tokyo. From there, Maloney was able to travel into various different countries, including South Korea.
On an intel mission in South Korea, Maloney was sent to investigate the suspect source of an intelligence leak that was getting many men killed in the war. The office under scrutiny was a sergeant and five women, typing sensitive information.
Maloney said he was sent in because of a specific skill he has, one that was very useful when gathering information and investigating. He said, “When they sent me over there, they said they knew I didn’t have to write anything down. I could go in without a pencil or anything. I just remember it.” His ability to recount details would prove vital many times in his military career, but his life as well.
During the investigation, Maloney asked the secretaries what they did with their typewriter ribbons at the end of the day. The ribbons were supposed to be cut and then burned by the sergeant, but Maloney discovered the ribbons were being taken home by the secretaries. Vital military secrets were intentionally being leaked and many men were dying because of it.
As his investigation progressed, the sergeant in charge of the office began following Maloney closely. He said, “He was stuck to me, followed me everywhere. Then, one day, I was walking away from him, and he drew his gun. He didn’t want me alive. He was going to shoot me in the back.” At that moment, another sergeant drew his weapon and shot the treasonous sergeant dead.
Following that, Maloney said the five secretaries and six more people were arrested and then executed for treason.
Maloney traveled all over the east while stationed in Toyko. As a Personnel Sergeant Major in 6002nd Air Intelligence, he investigated and protected military personnel. He also served as Chief Officer of Retirements.
As Chief Officer of Retirements, Maloney said he received a phone call from a pilot who had been served his mandatory retirement from the Air Force. Maloney said, “He called me and said, ‘I’ve just been assigned to be President Nixon’s pilot, what do I do? You just retired me.’”
So Maloney retracted his retirement and got him back in the cockpit to fly for President Nixon. He said, “He promised me the first time he flew, he’d send me a picture, and he did.” Maloney still has the picture sent to him.
For 28 years, Maloney served in the United States Air Force. His stories are plentiful, seemingly too incredible for the friendly man who hands out dollars to kids at local restaurants and the grocery store.
Maloney retired from the Air Force and moved to Cassville, opening a real estate office. While he retired, Maloney never stops paying attention and taking mental notes around him. He seems to always find himself in the midst of things where he can help. After his retirement, his incredible attention to detail helped with a huge FBI investigation.
Maloney said, “You know the Oklahoma City bombing? I helped catch them.”
Maloney’s story was of his encounter with bomber Timothy McVeigh and two other men in none other than his real estate office in Cassville.
Maloney said, “I had a man come in wanting to look at some secluded property around here.” One of the men who came into his office was McVeigh himself. While they didn’t end up buying the property, Maloney took note of them, surveyed their appearances, just as he always did, and when he saw the sketch following the bombing, he immediately called in saying he could describe the other two men.
Maloney’s attention to detail, even down to the degree of angle in one of the men’s noses and the tread of his shoes, helped the FBI and profiler Jeanne Boylan identify accomplices.
Boylan wrote about Maloney in her book, “Portraits of Guilt: The Woman Who Profiles the Faces of America’s Deadliest Criminals.”
Maloney will always be on alert. He’s always watching, and it’s saved many people during his service and after. Some of those stories, he still doesn’t share due to the sensitive nature of the secrets he’s kept.
Beyond the uniform, Maloney lives life to the fullest. He was married to his wife, Virginia, until she passed away in 2007 after over 50 years of marriage. He said, “She was quite a woman,” with a twinkle in his eye. The woman he loved, he met when he was five years old near his family’s farm on the White River. Virginia threw an apple at him from an apple tree, and eventually, they would wed and spend their lives together.
He and Virginia had four children, Teresa, Nancy, Rebecca and Tim, and adopted Sara while he was in the service in Texas. Rebecca passed away. He also has seven granddaughters.