Category Archives: Cold War

Book Review: ‘Stinger: Operation Cyclone’ by Bill Fortin

“…  Bill Fortin places the facts of the Cold War before us in a manner that will prevent us form forgetting that period in history and its impact on global politics today. Not only is he a very fine writer, but he also is a standard bearer who reminds the reader of the atrocities of the Cold War and the manner in which we as a country dealt with it. Very highly recommended. Grady Harp, March 18″

Maryland author Bill Fortin has worked for Bell Labs and is now the CEO of IBS, Inc. specializing in systems engineering, having earned his Master’s degree in the Management Sciences from the University of Baltimore. But more pertinent to this, his second novel in the Rick Fontain Series is the fact that having served in the US Army 3rd Armor Division from 1968 to 1970 he understands and has witness the horrors of war and its aftermath on soldiers

This being Book 2 of Bill’s series it is helpful that he brings us up to date with a brief author’s note: ‘Many people forget that during our respective histories with Korea, Vietnam, and Afghanistan there was another theater of conflict taking place. An almost bloodless combat … a mental combat, but combat none the less. The Cold War, sustained mainly on the European landmass, was fought silently for well over 40 years.

On Christmas Day in 1979 the Soviet Union decided to try their hand at genocide in Afghanistan. This attempt at invasion would fail in a full retreat in February 1989. Some historians say that the proverbial beating of their feet back across the Amu Darya River, utilizing the infamous Friendship Bridge, signaled the end of the Cold War. I, for one, did not believe this to be the case. And since 2014, neither have the people living in the Ukraine.’

Bill’s writing style is that of a seasoned war historian as well as a man who understands engineering technology. To provide further background information he opens his book with a Prologue set in the 1960s in Ukraine and then opens the nidus of the tale with a conversation between on Alexi and Khrushchev, moving quickly on to 1985.

The novel is complex and to understand and appreciate the impact of the message, Bill offers a synopsis on his book’s back cover: ‘Rick Fontain is back. STINGER is a Cold War adventure that peers inside the exploits of Congressman Charlie Wilson and CIA’s Task Force Chief Gust Avrakotos. Strange bedfellows they were…. Their alliance proved to be one of the most successful partnerships in the history of the CIA.

“Stinger: Operation Cyclone” centers on the results of their efforts. The adventure begins with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1979. This was the same year that the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. Early in 1982 POTUS called for a plan of action to arm and finance the Afghan Freedom Fighters known as the Mujahedin. Operation Cyclone was the code name assigned to this project.

CIA Officer Mike Vickers, not a participant in this story, was solicited by Avrakotos to help design and roll-out the blueprint to equip the Mujahedin. Included in this Covert Action program was the Stinger guided missile. This weapon system would be credited as the major factor in the Russian withdrawal in 1989.

General Gerald Bushman returns as the Director, Defense Intelligence Agency. Rick Fontain, who is now a Member, Technical Staff, of AT&T’s Bell Labs, is brought in for his expertise with the Stinger technology. His familiarity with the Russian gunship, the Mil Mi-24is just icing on the cake.

Rick is re-united with his Redeye instructor, Andy Davis, and together they lay out a plan to kill buku Russian aircraft. However, the operation stalls in 1982 and does not move forward until Rick thwarts an assassination attempt on one Maalouf Torki bin Taisei. Mr.Taisei is a Malaysian government official. He is also the largest arms dealer on the Pacific Rim.

The KGB gets wind that the Pakistan ISI has agreed to support Operation Cyclone. Their attacks are fierce. However, the result is not what they expect. President Reagan issues a change to the original operation requirements. The gloves come off. Rick Fontain is told to do whatever it takes to get Stinger into the hands of the Afghan Freedom Fighters.

In 1985, Pakistan’s President Zia finally OK’s the American plan to provide the Stinger technology to the Mujahedin. American Special Forces, the Green Beret and DELTA, are assigned to the training center at the ISI’s Ojhri Camp. The CIA’s LTC Jim Pezlola and CWO Gary Larson solicit the Mujahedin Command to provide students for the very first class of Stinger shooters.

Rick takes the graduating class into Afghanistan to the Russian airbase at Bagram. The rest, as they say, is history. Operation Cyclone may not have ended the Cold War, but it certainly weakened the Soviet Union’s resolve. So much so, that in 1993 it financially collapsed.’

Editor’s note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB‘s free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

C.J. Ledger’s Review: RedEye Fulda Cold – Publisher: Cold War Publications

Friday, October 23, 2015

C.J. Ledger Redeye 2015 Poster1Review: RedEye: Fulda Cold by Bill Fortin

 

Today’s review is for RedEye: Fulda Cold by Bill Fortin. We received this book from the Cadence Group,  a book marketing company that we have worked with before, and we really enjoy the books that they represent. The ones we’ve come into contact with are professionally published with a great editorial work, and the team exerts sheer professionalism when reaching out to book reviewers.

About the Book:

RedEye: Fulda Cold Publisher: Cold War Publications

Redeye: Fulda Cold by Bill Fortin is a different type of war novel. This piece of history is set in 1969 West Germany. The reality of what happened in the Cold War on the border between the opposing forces of East and West makes this a great read; it’s an important part of our military history. Rick Fontain, the main character, is found just out of high school working for Bell Systems when he is summoned by his friends and neighbors. During his induction into the US Army he is given an aptitude test. The test results change the path of his life forever. He is encouraged to become an officer but the extra time, in addition to his two years, is a no go for Rick. He opts for training on the Redeye, the first ever hand held surface to air missile system designed for close combat for the infantry. What Rick doesn’t know is that he is being watched from afar. His progress is being scrutinized and he is being evaluated for recruitment into the CIA.

His journey from boot camp continues when he is stationed near the Fulda Gap. Not a well known place, but its strategic position to the free world was an important post that kept Europe safe during those tense 30 plus years. Rick and his team would become one of the greatest deterrents to an invasion from Mother Russia. Fortin has deftly combined fictional characters and people he served with in the United States Army to recount some important but little-known events during the Cold War. His story takes the reader to the people and places of the late 1960s European Military Community and a series of carefully crafted CIA military operations designed to thwart a possible Russian invasion through the infamous Fulda Gap.

Overall 4.5 Stars

This book is a historical fiction work of art in the sub genre of War. The author takes fictional characters and merges them together with actual people he served with during the Cold War, Bill Fortin does an exceptional job of using these characters to tell us about lesser-known events that occurred during that strenuous time, which may have influenced our overall safety, even if just a bit. Acting as the main deterrent from an invasion by Mother Russia, Rick Fontain’s team lends their service to the Fulda Gap protecting the world from imminent doom while experiencing memorable events along the way. RedEye: Fulda Cold recounts a lesser-known war, transporting us back to one of the most important wartime eras this world has ever seen, but while there aren’t many books published about it, Fortin restitutes this lack of available material by writing a novel that feeds our need for historical knowledge, fictional creativity, and lust for wartime drama, all wrapped within the binding of one book.

The author stays in the character of a serviceman even within the structural integrity of the book. He uses accurate acronyms, phrases, and wording within the book making you feel as if you were standing side by side with Rick Fontain experiencing his life events. This is an exceptionally advanced method of writing, almost always reserved for an audience experienced in military life, veterans, retirees, active duty… But while some books written in this style leave many behind, unable to understand some of the occurrences,  in this book the author stays with you throughout, offering up footnotes to help us understand military lingo and reference figures to give his context as to the places in which the protagonist plays out his experiences. His bolding and style used to separate locations and events throughout chapters is very reminiscent of receiving service orders from your commanding officer, making the reader feel like a part of the events.

Bill Fortin wrote this novel in the first person, you cannot read through one page without feeling like you are personally experiencing what Rick Fontain is going through.  Ultimately, by the time you get to the end of this book it feels as if you’ve just read the incredible journey one man has gone through, full of unimaginable things, yet it has all been locked away within the safe of his own memory, rarely taken out for the world to see. It is eerily relative to the experiences current service members have, keeping in memories of incredible events only shared with brothers by their side, only to come home and walk past the rest of the population, unbeknownst to them, the amazing log of information held within this passerby; information that directly corresponds to their own freedom and effort to keep it safe.

I’ve learned more about the Cold War in this historical fiction book than I have in all of my years of education, which is precisely the concept Fortin tries to convey. This is a grand time in history, but one few of us know much about. Fortin delivers what we’ve been missing.

Technical

Cover: Stars | When it comes to the cover of this book it has a great basis, but there’s just one section of it that we cannot get past. The back cover of the book boasts a very clean, petroleum black with white lettering and some decorative decals. The spine is rather plain but still befitting for the book, and the front top-half offers us a very visual perception of what this book is about. However, the lower section of the front cover is rather awkward. “Fulda Cold” is very nicely placed within a matching border, and “Bill Fortin” is printed nicely with some of the grainy details of the back-splash within the lettering; you can also see it in “Fulda Cold”. But in the middle, you have “A Rick Fontaine Novel”, which is rather awkward, as it just sits there in solid white lettering without really blending into the book at all. We feel that that line could have been placed and designed a bit better.

Research: Stars | This book is deserving of a mention on its research. It offers an extensive character list towards the beginning of the book, making it easier for the reader to get to know the protagonists. The list is nicely divided by the locations in which they play out their stories, London, Netherlands, Germany, and the United States. This list also includes places and terms used and goes on for 6 pages.

Within the book, each page has between one and two footnotes describing terminology used within the story, addressing figures of buildings and places, and giving more background to what the protagonists are talking about. Speaking of the figures, this book does a very good job of transporting the reader to the places where the stories play out, as every couple of pages, you run into a figure. For example, on page 101, there is a nice diagram labeled “Figure 11” noting the operational unit sizes within the army. Figure 9 on page 92 offers a map noted as the “Fulda Gap”, which gives us some context as well. And our final example is on page 193, labeled “Figure 17”, which is a photograph of the Nuremberg Hospital.

Continuing with research, on page 5 the author provides us with a table of contents, but he also provides us with a table of figures and pictures on page 7 and 8, which note the location of the depictions we just discussed. Page 9 is a very heartfelt acknowledgement page, noting three servicemen he worked with, his editor Donna Foley, & a few others. What was personal for us, was his addition of page 11, which he reserved as a memorial to two very special servicemen, one of which, Sergeant Ken Clark, is the subject of the dedication of this book.
We didn’t give the research of this book the full five stars because some of the photographs are grainy and pix-elated. For example, the Fulda Gap map (Figure 9) is very blurry and hard to read and Figure 42 on page 411, labeled “Attention to Orders” is very pix-elated, almost impossible to read.

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Redeye Fulda Cold – “A Rick Fontain Novel”

Redeye 2015 Poster1Many people forget that during the Vietnam War era there was another war going on — one that had been raging since the 1950’s: The Cold War. While brave men were dying in Vietnam, equally brave men and women were facing an enemy more threatening than those in South East Asia – namely the Soviet Union. Redeye Fulda Cold brings to light the rigors and experiences of those in the 3rd Armor Division, as well as, humorous anecdotes of life in the U.S. military in Europe in the 1960’s. The Cold War, as played out in places like the Fulda Gap, and the threats and missions our soldiers faced in this environment, is all but forgotten in our history except by those who served in it.

Re-edited by Dona Foley – re-introduced via CreateSpace and IngramSpark – June 2015

Redeye Fulda Cold – “Right on the mark, this war novel is hot!”

This novel is a winner. Redeye Fulda Cold by Bill Fortin is a different type of war novel. It’s real. What you will be reading happened in the Cold War during ‘68 and ’69 at the border between East and West Germany. It is not only a great novel; it’s an important part of military history. Rick Fontain, the main character, is working for Bell Systems in the USA when he is drafted. During the induction period he has to take an aptitude test. The test results change the path of his life forever. He is encouraged to become an officer but the extra time, in addition to his two years, is a no go for Rick. He opts for training on the Redeye, the first ever hand held surface to air missile system for the infantry. What Rick doesn’t know is that he is being watched from afar. His progress is being scrutinized and he is being tested.

I like the style of the author, Fortin. Written in the first person, we follow the army life of Rick though short snippets of his journey. It took me a few pages to get used to the style of headers detailing where and when things were taking place but then I became hungry to find out what would happen next to Rick and where.

His journey continues when he is stationed near the Fulda Gap. I had never heard of this place, but I now know how important it was to the safeguard of Europe during those tense years. Rick and his team would become one of the greatest deterrents to an invasion from Mother Russia. Fortin brings all the key elements together to make a fabulous story: mystery; intrigue; love; suspense; bravery and reality. It is a snap shot in history back to when the world was at the brink. Redeye Fulda Cold is a must read. I want to see a sequel novel to find out where Rick goes next.

 

 

 

A Cold Inferno – Dangerous Times – The World is Silent!

The Cold War is on fire. When a Russian citizen is shot in the back while walking down the street because he dared speak out against the administration. The world is silent.

It was suggested to me recently that the Cold War should have been labeled World War III from the start. I thought it sounded funny at the time but after the last year of Mr. Putin’s antics we may be witnessing the assembly of yet another dark chapter in European history. A book that has become way to thick for the times.

I mention history because not many of us care to recall how Hitler was ignored for years before the “turn the other cheek crowd” had no choice but to die or fight. The world is silent; no one is speaking out!

We have Islamic terrorist group committing unspeakable acts against humanity. Crucifixions, be-headings, and burning people alive in cages.
Except for Jordon; the world is silent.

There is a country, Iran, who sponsors terrorist groups on three continents. They have made it clear that they intend to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. They are in the final stages of assembling a very large number of nuclear bombs. All the while the US President reassures us that he can talk these deceitful hate mongers into a peaceful end. The American’s remain silent.

I hope we still have our planet when we next examine this period in our past. It was Mr. Churchill who said, “Those who do not study history are destined to repeat it”. The silence is deafening and getting louder by each indecision!

Redeyed ‘Cuz I Couldn’t Put it Down!, January 23, 2015 By Donna Foley

On the edge of my seat one minute, laughing out loud at others, I was truly delighted by this unusual story. It’s not often that an action-adventure book with a military setting is filled with humor, but this one is! And there is suspense a-plenty. I found it hard to put this book down. The value-added is that one learns a lot of heretofore virtually unknown U.S. military history (because it was top secret at the time) from the period of 1968 − 1970. Clearly, author Bill Fortin has done his homework, and educates non-military readers with a series of footnotes explaining military jargon, events, equipment, protocol, ritual, etc. “RedEye: Fulda Cold” is a thoroughly absorbing and entertaining novel. I highly recommend it.

A Cold War Redeye Memory!

Note:  I’m very glad to make your acquaintance, George.

Red Eye Fulda Cold - A Cold War NovelHello Bill,

Thank you for taking the time to contact me and know that I am honored to make your acquaintance.

I downloaded Redeye Fulda Cold from Amazon and am only a little over a quarter of the way into your book and loving it for a couple of reasons.

  • First because I was a project officer involved with the introduction of Redeye to US Army Hawaii in the early 70’s.
  • Second, because as an enlisted man I was assigned to an armored 155 field artillery battalion located in Hammelburg, Germany back in the 50’s. Our mission was to support an armored cavalry unit patrolling the Fulda Gap.

Your book is wakening many dormant memories and impressions I had of my first overseas tour in Germany, the alerts, the times spent in the field and of the many unique characters I encountered in my adventures as a young soldier.

I can closely associate with the situations you’ve so far revealed. Your book isn’t just telling what I’m sure will be an interesting story but revealing the emotions that soldiers feel as they are put through the mill and the Snafu’s which are so prevalent in the military. It’s easy for me to identify with your role in this book. I feel as if I’m right there with you.