Category Archives: Cold War

W.E.B. Griffin, 89, Dies; one of the Best Novelist of our Times

Bill Butterworth (W.E.B. Griffin) at his home in Alabama in 2014. Mr. His real name was William E. Butterworth III, wrote numerous best-selling novels under the Griffin name and many other pseudonyms. W.E.B. Griffin at his home in Alabama in 2014 Picture taken by Pilar Menendez Butterworth    

W.E.B. Griffin, who depicted the swashbuckling lives of soldiers, spies and cops in almost 60 novels, dozens of which became best sellers. Mr. Butterworth estimated that he had published more than 150 books, many of which appeared on the best-seller lists of The New York Times, Publishers Weekly and other publications. His output included fiction for young adults and children’s books. According to his website, there are more than 50 million copies of his books in print in more than 10 languages.

Determining the exact number of books he wrote would not be an easy task: He was a ghostwriter for many of his early works.  Many more were published under a variety of pseudonyms, including Webb Beech, Edmund O. Scholefield, Allison Mitchell, and Blakely St. James.

Even the name W. E. B. Griffin was a pseudonym; his real name was William E. Butterworth III. His best-known books are under the Griffin name. The first was “The Lieutenants” (1982), which became the first installment in “The Brotherhood of War,” a nine-novel series that followed soldiers in the United States Army from World War II through the Vietnam War. Among his other series were “Badge of Honor,” about the Philadelphia Police Department, and “Clandestine Operations,” about the birth of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Bill Butterworth’s writing was straightforward and a bit wry. In an early scene in “Top Secret” (2014) — the first book in the “Clandestine Operations” series — Lt. James Cronley is seated in a car with the young woman he will soon marry…

“She turned to face him,” Bill wrote. “Their eyes met. ‘Jimmy, you sound like my mother trying to reason with me. …’ Their conversation was interrupted when the proximity of their faces caused a mutual involuntary act on both their parts. A minute or so later, Jimmy said, ‘Jesus H. Christ!’ and Marjorie said, a little breathlessly, ‘Don’t let this go to your head, but as kissers go, you’re not too bad.’ ”

His fast-paced novels, rooted in history and chockablock with technical details, combined action, sex and patriotism and had a devoted readership. A profile in The Washington Post in 1997 described Mr. Griffin as “the grizzled griot of the warrior breed” and “the troubadour of the American serviceman.”

Bill Butterworth saw himself in simpler terms. “Basically I’m a storyteller,” he said. “I like to think I’m a competent craftsman, as writers go, but I am wholly devoid of literary ambitions or illusions.”

His relentless pace — early in his career he sometimes completed four books a year — slowed somewhat in recent years. His son William became his full-time writing partner in 2006.

Bill’s son (William IV) said he intended to keep writing in the style that his Dad’s fans enjoy; a new book in the “Badge of Honor” series, “The Attack,” is to be published in August, with more novels, in that and other series, to follow.

William Edmund Butterworth III was born on Nov. 10, 1929, in Newark. His father, William II, was a traveling shoe salesman. His mother, Gladys (Schnabel) Butterworth, was a saleswoman in a department store.

His parents divorced when he was a teenager, and Bill attended several East Coast preparatory schools before enlisting in the Army. He served in Germany just after the end of World War II, becoming a clerk and typist for Gen. Isaac Davis White. After a stint in college in Germany, he re-enlisted and again worked for General White during the Korean War.

After the war, Bill left the military to become a writer. He moved to Philadelphia, where he worked for a year as a corn oil and starch salesman, a job he despised. He soon moved to Fort Rucker in Alabama to work for the Army as a civilian technical writer.

He published his first book, “Comfort Me With Love,” about a young soldier’s adventures in Europe after World War II, in 1959. Two years later he left his job at the base to write novels and other books full-time.

Beginning in the mid-1970s he wrote several sequels to “M*A*S*H,” the 1968 novel, by the former military surgeon H. Richard Hornberger and the writer W. C. Heinz under a pseudonym. These were the stories that inspired the movie and television show of the same name. Though many were optioned, Bill Butterworth’s own books, under any pseudonym, have never been turned into movies. This revelation was made known by his son, Bill IV. One reason was that studios balked when Mr. Butterworth insisted on maintaining creative control.

Bill Butterworth married Emma Macalik while he was stationed in Germany after the war. In 1950 Emma Macalik, a ballet dancer and the author of As the Waltz Was Ending, wrote a memoir of her life growing up as a dancer in Vienna during World War II. They had a daughter (Patricia) and two sons (John S. II and William E. IV). Emma died from lung cancer in 2003. The marriage ended in divorce in the 1990s.

He later married Maria del Pilar Menendez, whom he had met on a hunting trip in Argentina. They had a home in Pilar, a suburb of Buenos Aires, and split their time between there and Alabama. She died in 2018.

In addition to his son William, his survivors include another son, John; a daughter, Patricia Black; many stepchildren; four grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; and many step-grandchildren.

In 2009 Bill told The Philadelphia Inquirer that he felt especially proud of his novel “The Honor of Spies,” which was about to be published. “It’s the best thing I’ve ever written,” he said. “Of course, I’ll feel the same way about the one that comes out next June.”      

Bill Butterworth died on February 12, 2019 from colorectal cancer at the age of 89.

I will miss him.

I will miss him.

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

Angie's Book of the Week | Angie's Diary
Edition #94 – July 1, 2018
Book Review



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 Mujahideen. 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 Mujahideen. 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-24 is 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 Mujahideen. 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 Mujahideen 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.




By Bill Fortin

Passage from Chapter 25

Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport
Wednesday, July 2, 1986, 15:50 Hours
Car Park – Ground Level
Subang International Airport
47200 Subang – Selangor, Malaysia

… Hammad spoke first, “Watch from here, Doctor,” he commanded. “Let’s go,” he said to the driver. Both doors of the Land Cruiser opened, and both men rounded the vehicle parked next to them and headed for the zebra-striped walkway that led the way from the car park to Subang’s main terminal. Instead of crossing the driveway, Hammad and company turned to the right as they exited the car park. They walked casually along the sidewalk until they were directly across the road from the vehicles of interest. The occupants of the vehicles were parked curbside and were entirely focused on the four individuals who had just exited the main terminal.

Hammad turned towards the vehicles and picked up the pace. Hammad and the driver unbuttoned their suit coats and let the sling take the full weight of their .45 CAL ACP Uzi Machine guns. These particular weapons had been upgraded with a conversion kit manufactured by Vector Arms. This modification allowed the Uzi to accept the same style 30-cartridge magazine as the US Army’s M3, better known as a “Grease Gun.” Everyone attending today’s gathering was carrying two spare magazines. Hammad headed directly towards the driver’s side of the Opel, while his driver, Ahmad Haqq, adjusted his angle of approach and walked towards the van parked directly behind. The driver of the van recognized the coming threat and laid on the horn. But it was a split second too late. At a distance of five meters, Hammad crouched slightly, bringing the weapon up to level with his chest. Mr. Haqq repeated the same movement. Hammad fired first, emptying half of the magazine into the front seat of the car. The occupants of the front seat started to jerk uncontrollably. Blood, tissue, and brain matter splattered everywhere within the vehicle. The faces of the two rear occupants registered pure horror as Hammad turned his attention to them.

Mr. Haqq altered his trajectory slightly bringing his weapon up directly in line with the driver’s side window of the van. With his weapon on full automatic, he emptied his entire magazine into the front of the van. The result was so devastating that it was hard to recognize that the former occupants were ever human. Without breaking stride, he continued on his way alongside the vehicle. Mr. Haqq, once the magazine was emptied, pushed the release and flipped the position of the taped together magazines. With his left hand, he pulled back on the charging handle. This action immediately allowed him to empty the second magazine into the side panel of the truck. As he moved to the rear doors of the truck, he was joined by Hammad. The yelling and bloodcurdling screams had ceased halfway through Mr. Haqq’s second clip.

Hammad and Mr. Haqq recharged their weapons as they arrived at the rear doors of the van. Hammad brought his weapon up as Mr. Haqq dropped the weight of the UZI onto its sling and pulled the right-side door to a fully opened position. There were five more individuals contorted in a variety of poses throughout the cabin.

Everyone was quite dead.


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Author Bio

Born September 13, 1948 to William and Dorothy. I received 14 years of Catholic education starting with 8 years at Saint Marks. My high school years were spent at Mount Saint Joseph followed by only one and a half years at Loyola College. This ended abruptly in April of 1968. My friends and neighbors sent me an invitation. I had been drafted.

I served in the United States Army, 3rd Armor Division, from December 1968
to the first part of 1970. That same year I went back to work for the Bell System’s C&P Telephone Company. It wasn’t until 1979 that I received an Associate’s Degree in Programing Languages and in 1981 a Bachelor’s in Business.
In 1980 the Bell System was divested into several different entities. I was recruited into a new AT&T company called American Bell. By 1983 I was just finishing up the Master’s program at the University of Baltimore. I received an advanced degree in the Management Science’s. In 1989 I was asked to join Bell Laboratory’s headquartered in New Jersey.

Bill Fortin

By 1990 I was living and working internationally. AT&T divested once again
and I was recruited into a new branch of the Bell Labs. It was a company
called Lucent Technologies. The next twelve years I supported a sales territory as large as the planet earth. In July of 2001, 2 months before the attack on the World Trade Center, I and 2 other Bell Labs members started a private corporation called Integrated Building Solutions, INC. I still run this company today.

By 2012 I had settled my family in the western part of Maryland. It was that
year while transporting Redhawk, a Quarter horse, to a medical facility in
Pennsylvania; I had a flashback to 1970. That was the year I had been discharged from the Army.

The cause of my memory recall was the turnpike signage that pointed to the VA Hospital at Perryville. I knew at that moment that the exploits of my Cold Warriors of 40 plus years passed had waited long enough to be told.

The result was a novel entitled Redeye Fulda Cold. I had retired from Bell Labs in 2001, I’m currently the CEO of IBS, Inc., specializing in systems engineering. My wife Judy, a gaggle of Border Collies, and other 4 legged and featured companions reside in the rolling hills of Westminster, Maryland.

The novel Redeye Fulda Cold is a complete accounting of my time in service told through the fictional
character, Rick Fontain

Find Bill on:
Twitter – LinkedIn – Facebook – Website



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.


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.