Book Review: Redeye: Fulda Cold, A Novel By Bill Fortin

Redeye: Fulda Cold, A Rick Fontain Novel. Written By Bill Fortin, 2013, (Cold War Publications, June, 2015). Available in print or as an eBook.

Fortin's Redeye: Fulda Cold

Redeye: Fulda Cold is author Bill Fortin’s military history novel detailing events during the Cold War 1969-1970. FIM-43 Redeye designed by General Dynamics from 1959-1967, lends its name and iconography to this exciting and personal military history fiction story filled with action-adventure, Cold War military intrigue/tactics & strategy, and the everyday high and lows of military life. As this novel depicts, the Cold War was not so stagnant for the men and women who served on both sides of the conflict during the 1960’s-1980’s. Throughout this story the reader follows Sgt. Rick Fontain, call sign Sparrow6, of the HHC 1st/48th Infantry Brigade stationed in West Germany as he leads the “Redeye” Fire Team at the Fulda Gap, the strategic bridge between East and West at the height of the Cold War the late 1960’s.

US Airborne Soldier with a FIM-43 "Redeye"

Fortin most certainly utilized his own experience stationed in Germany from 1968-1970 (the same time frame that the book takes place), in the Army’s 3rd Armor Division, in writing this book. More than 260 and citations and footnotes give the reader a great influx of definitions and explanations of various military procedures, jargon, historical notes of importance, and the author's own observations. This novel rectifies many similar works by other authors which often lack background material on the relating subject, Redeye: Fuld Cold War offers the reader a varied but complete and engaging work of historical military fiction. Through Sgt. Fontain’s eyes the reader sees the stark reality of danger (MAD) faced by the military forces of both sides during the Cold War.

We travel with Fontain throughout his training, personal, and military life, depicted in daily journals and memos which are mostly cleverly written; visiting a multitude of foreign and domestic armed forces bases. The two most important being Fort Bliss, Texas, and the White Sands Missile Range (WSMR), New Mexico, basic training and live fire testing for Redeye gunners respectfully. Private First Class (PFC) and eventually Sergeant Fontain quickly learns the weapon system’s intricacies despite the steep learning curve and is soon after posted to Germany, where the reader is treated to a well written story line overall and plenty of military action along the way.

US Army Test of XMIM-43A, precusor to the Redeye used by Sgt. Fontain

In the early stages of research and development the “kill probability” of FIM-43 Redeye tested very high against drones and enemy helicopters but much lower against Russian MiG 22/23’s and comparable jet aircraft. Eventually however the Redeye does see real world service with the Dutch and West German armies as allies of the U.S. Armed Forces in Europe, in Nicaragua in the 1980’s during their civil war, and in Afghanistan where the mujahideen used them to shoot down dozens of Soviet aircraft (mostly helicopters) in the late 1970’s and early 80’s.

Fortin’s novel is highly recommended to anyone looking for a easy reading, thorough, and thoroughly engaging Cold War history novel that is not at all espionage or spy related. This story may interest those who would like to learn more about hand held surface-to-air technology and its first applications, Cold War military doctrine and procedures, or for those who just want to read an engaging and fictional but informative U.S. military chronicle.


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