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Review of Redeye Fulda Cold by Bill Fortin

Posted by Daniel Sauerwein on December 29, 2015

Bill Fortin, Redeye Fulda Cold: A Rick Fontain Novel. Cold War Publications, 2015. Maps, Illustrations, Photographs. $16.15. 422pp.

Readers of this blog who are interested in the Cold War, intelligence, technology, and historical fiction will likely enjoy a novel that covers the European Theater of the great game between East and West.  Bill Fortin, a US Army veteran from 1968-1970, who served in West Germany, wrote a novel based around his experiences in the 3rd Armored Division that provides a unique story into an obscure area of Cold War operations.

RedEye Fulda Cold examines the conflict from the eyes of soldier Rick Fontain. Fontain, a draftee from Maryland, enters the Army in April 1968, when most were sent to Vietnam. Based on his test scores, Fontain is offered a slot at OCS, having some college under his belt, but chooses another path that leads him to Fort Bliss, Texas for training on the Redeye shoulder-fired missile system and station in West Germany. He serves about a year and a half at Coleman Kaserne as a member of 1st Battalion, 48th Infantry Regiment, coordinating the implementation of Redeye into the area as part of the defense against Warsaw Pact forces.

During his time in service, Fontain meets Bill Douglas, who goes by several aliases and works for the CIA as part of their efforts to wage the Cold War around the globe. The encounter connects Fontain with important individuals connected with the intelligence game in Europe, while also shielding his career along the way. With his abilities and personality, Rick successfully implements Redeye into his unit, becoming a leading non-commissioned officer (NCO) overseeing the deployment of the system as part of the larger defense strategy in the area against a potential Soviet invasion through the Fulda Gap. In addition, Fontain’s expertise and his connection to Douglas allow him to interact with high-level personnel in the Army and CIA communities. During his time in West Germany, Rick finds time to socialize with the locals, including finding a love interest. Eventually, after several unique adventures, Fontain’s time in Germany ends, but this is only the beginning of his role in the Cold War.

Fortin presents Rick Fontain as an honorable character and capable leader, who looks out for those around him and finds a camaraderie in the Army that is attractive to him in many ways. Further, the men and women he encounters along the way are as interesting, making you want to know more about them as well. The story itself is quite good, with lots of interesting happenings and side stories. While initially expecting a different trajectory, leading to a “Cold War gone hot” situation, I was overall pleased with how the story turned out. Basing the story and characters on his own real-life service, Fortin did an outstanding job of writing a convincing novel on the Cold War that read more like a memoir than a work of fiction. That said, Fortin should strongly consider writing his memoirs of his real service in West Germany, as they would be quite useful to scholars of Cold War history.

Those interested in technology in the Cold War will not be disappointed, as the complexities of the Redeye system are detailed, as are vehicles, aircraft, and early work with remotely piloted aircraft. In addition, those who enjoy spy novels and intelligence/espionage type stories will get something from this book, as while not a work like Ian Flemming’s or Tom Clancy’s, there is sufficient political and intelligence intrigue that should whet the appetite of this audience. Finally, those into military historical fiction will enjoy it simply as a novelization of one common soldier’s service in Western Europe during an often overshadowed time and place in Cold War history.

My only two major issues revolve around stylistic choices. Fortin’s organization of the book somewhat detracts from the typical styling of a novel, as he breaks up chapters into several sections based on a particular time and place, which breaks up the flow of the story a bit. However, it is only a minor issue that helps readers discern where Rick Fontain is. The reason it is a slight issue is that it causes the book to read as a memoir, which it is not meant to be. The other criticism is Fortin’s use of footnotes that explain military slang and abbreviations, as well as certain biographies of important real-world individuals associated with the real happenings of the story arc and technical information. While these make the work accessible to a wider audience, they are also distracting, as they break up the flow of the story. Further, given that this book is going to have a core audience that will likely know what the terms mean, they come across as a bit redundant.

Overall, the book is a solid story of Cold War historical fiction with compelling characters and good prose. It will appeal to a wide and diverse audience and will leave readers wanting to pick up Fortin’s next novel in the Rick Fontain saga, which Fortin will hopefully produce. If looking for a good winter read that has history, technology, and the Cold War, go grab Redeye Fulda Cold.

Posted in American Military History, Book Reviews, Cold War, US Army | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

KVRR Fox Fargo Moorhead – WW II Collection On Display At UND

Posted by Daniel Sauerwein on February 5, 2013

KVRR Fox Fargo Moorhead – WW II Collection On Display At UND.

A local news story about an exhibit I put together on the 164th Infantry Regiment, which was part of the North Dakota National Guard and served in the Pacific as part of the Americal Division.

Posted in 20th Century Military History, American Military History, Conflict, US Army, World War II | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

NEW PBS DOCUMENTARY “THE WAR OF 1812” EXPLORES THE TRUTH AND MYTHMAKING OF HISTORY

Posted by Daniel Sauerwein on July 5, 2011

— Television Program Presents American, Canadian, British and Native Perspectives, Leading the Way of Bicentennial Activities, Airs October 10 —

WASHINGTON, D.C. and BUFFALO, NY — Nearly two centuries after it was fought, the two-and-a-half year conflict that forged the destiny of a continent comes to public television in a comprehensive film history.  “The War of 1812” airs on PBS stations nationwide on Monday, October 10, 2011 at 9 p.m. ET (check local listings).  From 1812 to 1815, Americans battled against the British, Canadian colonists, and Native warriors; the outcomes shaped the geography and the identity of North America.  This two-hour HD documentary uses stunning re-enactments, evocative animation, and the incisive commentary of key experts to reveal little-known sides of an important war — one that some only recognize for the “Star-Spangled Banner.”  The broadcast is accompanied by a companion book and website, as well as comprehensive bi-national educational resources.

Across the United States and Canada, communities are planning events to commemorate the 200th Anniversary of the War of 1812.  “We have proudly created ‘The War of 1812’ for both nations,” said Donald K. Boswell, president and CEO of WNED, the producing station of the program. Broadcasting from Buffalo, New York, WNED has significant viewership in Southern Ontario.  “This timely examination of a shared history allows us to celebrate our past together, and renew the bond of our present and future as national neighbors.  With this production, WNED also continues a tradition of showcasing cultural and historical treasures of our bi-national region to the PBS audience.”  WNED is one of fourteen public broadcasting stations that share a border with Canada, extending the national broadcast of “The War of 1812” throughout the United States into many Canadian communities.

“WETA is pleased to join WNED in bringing this important project to all viewers,” noted Sharon Percy Rockefeller, president and CEO of WETA, the flagship public broadcasting stations in the nation’s capital and a partner in the project.  “It is an excellent example of the intellectual integrity and cultural merit for which public broadcasting stands.”

The War of 1812 is a celebrated event by Canadians, forgotten by many Americans and British, and dealt a resounding blow to most of the Native nations involved.  The film is in many ways an examination of how the mythical versions of history are formed — how the glories of war become enshrined in memory, how failures are quickly forgotten, and how inconvenient truths are ignored forever, while we often change history to justify and celebrate our national cultures and heritage.

“The War of 1812” explores the events leading up to the conflict, the multifold causes of the war, and the questions that emerged about the way a new democracy should conduct war.  It was a surprisingly wide war.  Dozens of battles were fought on land in Canada and in the northern, western, southern and eastern parts of the United States — in the present-day states of Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, New York, Maryland, Louisiana, and Alabama.  There were crucial naval battles on Lakes Erie and Champlain, and a wide-ranging maritime struggle with many episodes off Virginia, Massachusetts, Nova Scotia, Cuba, Ireland, the Azores, the Canaries, British Guyana, and Brazil.  The U.S. proved surprisingly successful against the great British navy, but the War of 1812 also saw American armies surrender en masse and the American capital burned.

Great characters emerge in the film, including Tecumseh of the Shawnee nation, who attempted to form a confederation of Native nations, and died in battle; his adversary, William Henry Harrison, Governor of the Indiana Territory, whose debatable success at Tippecanoe, Indiana eventually helped him become President of the United States; James Madison, Father of the U.S. Constitution, a brilliant thinker and writer who was not a great President; and such storied Canadian figures as Canadian Governor-General George Prévost, who led the largest army ever to invade the Continental United States; Laura Secord, a Canadian woman who walked many miles to warn the British of an impending American attack; and Major General Isaac Brock, a brave and audacious British general who captured a large American army at Detroit without a fight.  The film also recounts dramatic human stories of ordinary citizens, the political alliances of the various Native Americans nations, and the African-American
slaves who reached for their freedom by fighting for the British.

“The War of 1812” recollects defining moments that are more familiar: the burning of Washington, D.C., and First Lady Dolley Madison’s rescue of a portrait of George Washington from the White House; Andrew Jackson’s total victory at the Battle of New Orleans; and the birth of the American national anthem, penned by Francis Scott Key during the Battle of Baltimore at Fort McHenry.  Yet “The War of 1812” pierces the heroic mythology that has grown up around the war to reveal a brutal, spiteful conflict dominated by fiascos and blunders.

The war shaped North America in the most literal way possible: had one or two battles or decisions gone a different way, a map of the continent today might look entirely different.  The U.S. could well have included parts of Canada — but was also on the verge of losing much of the Midwest.  The New England states, meanwhile, were poised on the brink of secession just months before a peace treaty was signed.  However, the U.S. and Canada ultimately each gained a sense of nationalism from the conflict, while the result tolled the end of Native American dreams of a separate nation.

Interviews with twenty-six leading authorities on the War of 1812 — American, British, Canadian and Native historians — present important accounts and research, including from the following individuals:

·       Donald R. Hickey, professor of history at Wayne State College, Wayne, Nebraska.~ He is the author of~Don’t Give Up the Ship!: Myths of the War of 1812~and~The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict.

·       Peter Twist, the Canadian director of Military Heritage, a historical military uniform and arms supply company.~ He has served as consultant on numerous film and theater projects, and is an expert on the military history of the War of 1812.

·       Donald Fixico, a Shawnee Native American, is the Distinguished Foundation Professor of History at Arizona State University, and author of~Treaties with American Indians: An Encyclopedia of Rights, Conflicts and Sovereignty~and~Rethinking American Indian History.

·       Sir Christopher Gerald Prevost, great-great-great-grandson to George Prévost, Governor-in-Chief of British North America during the War of 1812.~ He is co-author of~The Incredible War of 1812: A Military History.~

A complete list of those interviewed is available in the project’s electronic press kit.

The film’s companion book, The War of 1812: A Guide to Battlefields and Historic Sites, by John Grant and Ray Jones, is illustrated with more than 120 color photographs and archival paintings.  Each chapter focuses on one of several distinct theaters of the war, allowing the reader to follow the course of events and their importance to the war as a whole.  Jones is the author of more than 40 books, including several highly successful companion books for PBS, among them Legendary Lighthouses.  Grant is the executive producer of “The War of 1812” and chief content officer for WNED Buffalo/Toronto; he has also produced for PBS “Window to the Sea”, “The Marines” and “Chautauqua: An American Narrative.”

The project is also accompanied by a rich bi-national education and outreach component.  It includes Educator’s Guides with lesson plans, activities, and a host of educational-based resources designed for the United States and Canada, classroom posters, and several instructional events.  Expansive educational resources will also be found on the full companion website to the television documentary at pbs.org.  The full site will launch in early September with features such as a battlefield map and guide, web-only video features, scholar essays, and links to key 1812 sites on both sides of the border.

For more information about “The War of 1812,” including details on how to purchase the DVD and companion book, visit www.pbs.org/war-of-1812.  An electronic press kit, including downloadable photos for promotional use, is available at pressroom.pbs.org.

“The War of 1812” is a production of WNED-TV, Buffalo/Toronto and Florentine Films/Hott Productions Inc.,~in association with WETA Washington, D.C.  The executive producers are John Grant and David Rotterman for WNED, and Dalton Delan and Karen Kenton for WETA.  Produced by Lawrence Hott and Diane Garey of Florentine Films/Hott Productions Inc.  Directed by Lawrence Hott.  Written by Ken Chowder.  Narrated by Joe Mantegna.  Principal Cinematography by Stephen McCarthy.  Production Design by Peter Twist.  “The War of 1812” has been made possible by a major grant from The National Endowment for the Humanities: Because democracy demands wisdom*.~ With funding provided by The Wilson Foundation, Warren and Barbara Goldring, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting: a private corporation funded by the American people, The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations: Dedicated to strengthening America’s future through education, Phil Lind and The Annenberg Foundation.~ With additional support
from The Baird Foundation, the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission and Jackman Foundation. *Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

WNED-TV is a leading producer of single-topic documentary programming for national broadcast on PBS including “Chautauqua: An American Narrative,” “Elbert Hubbard: An American Original,” “The Adirondacks,” “Niagara Falls,” “The Marines,” “Window to the Sea,” “Frank Lloyd Wright’s Buffalo” and “America’s Houses of Worship.”  Also in development are films on the Underground Railroad and the history of golf course architecture in America.  More information on WNED and its programs and services is available at www.wned.org.

WETA Washington, D.C., is the third-largest producing station for public television.~ WETA’s other productions and co-productions include “Washington Week with Gwen Ifill and National Journal,” the arts series “In Performance at the White House” and “The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize,” and documentaries by filmmaker Ken Burns, including the premiere this fall of “Prohibition.”  More information on WETA and its programs and services is available at www.weta.org.

Florentine Films/Hott Productions Inc. is the production company of Lawrence Hott and Diane Garey, who have worked together since 1978.  They are part of the Florentine Films group.  Hott and Garey have received an Emmy Award, two Academy Award nominations, five American Film Festival Blue Ribbons, fourteen CINE Golden Eagles, a George Foster Peabody Award, the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award, the Erik Barnouw Award.~~Their work has been shown on PBS and screened at dozens of major film festivals, including the New York Film Festival, Telluride, Mountainfilm, and Women in the Director’s Chair.~ More information is available at www.florentinefilms.org.

Posted in American Military History, US Army, US military, US Navy | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

For Love of Liberty: The Story of America’s Black Patriots

Posted by Daniel Sauerwein on October 14, 2010

I received information about this resource a few weeks ago and have meant to post it up here. For Love of Liberty tells the story of African-American contributions to America’s military history. The website will be closing soon, due to an apparent lack of funding, so go there soon to check out photos and other materials. I am making available chapters of the documentary and the film, including facilitator guides, so that this information is available to educators. Below is information about this program.

The website:

http://www.forloveofliberty.net/

You can download the facilitator guides at this link: (I have attached them for you)

http://www.forloveofliberty.net/educators/facilitators-guides

For Love of Liberty Documentary Links:

Chapter 1: Introduction

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=8MH2M6FT

Chapter 2: The Revolution

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=DCBNTI26

Chapter 3: The Civil War

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=91G9WPUR

Chapter 4: WWI

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=XNCBIKH9

Chapter 5: WWII

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=SJKIMAZG

Chapter 6: The Korean War

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=65YPE8LZ

Chapter 7: The Vietnam War

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=G9YJT4V2

Chapter 8: The Middle East

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=LM5DB80G

Chapter 9: Conclusion

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=BQ98URBM

Play All:

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=S6EG13VM

You can view photos here.

Please check out this information and consider showing it to students.

Posted in 20th Century Military History, 21st Century Military History, American Military History, Cold War, Conflict, General, Global War on Terror, Gulf War/Operation Desert Shield/Storm, Indian Wars, Korean War, Spanish-American War, US Air Force, US Army, US Coast Guard, US Marine Corps, US military, US Navy, Vietnam War, World War I, World War II | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Combat Stress Clinic named after fallen Soldier

Posted by Daniel Sauerwein on September 16, 2010

Courtesy of Captain Tanya Rosa

United States Division – South
Media Release
HQ, USD-South
Basra, Iraq
APO AE 09374
VOIP: 858-4087

RELEASE 20100910-01                                                                                                                                                                      Sep. 10, 2010

Combat Stress Clinic named after fallen Soldier

By Sgt. Cody Harding, 1st Inf. Div. PAO

BASRA, Iraq – The new Combat Stress Clinic on the American base at Basra International Airport was named in honor of Sgt. Brandon Maggart in a ceremony Sept. 10.

Maggart, who served with Battery A, 5th Battalion, 5th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, was killed in an Aug. 22 rocket attack.

The clinic, which was recently refurbished, provides a place for Soldiers to meet with mental health professionals to deal with the stress that comes with operating in a combat zone. Controlling stress is an important part of the military’s overall fitness, and the support center aims to help Soldiers cope.

The Combat Stress Clinic renovations, under the direction of Sgt. Sonja Young, a behavioral health technician with the 162nd Area Medical Support Group, were completed the day before the attack. After helping the Soldiers in Maggart’s unit, Young, a San Antonio native, advocated that the new CSC be named after him.

Lt. Col. Pamela Breedlove, the commander of the Combat Stress Clinic, said Maggart’s leadership was the reason behind his name being placed on the clinic.

“As Sgt. Maggart truly exemplifies the Army Values, Soldier Resiliency, and the tenets of combat stress control,” said Breedlove, a Topeka, Kan., native. “Sgt. Young advocated that the new clinic area be dedicated in his name.”

Before the renovations, the CSC was an unattractive place for Soldiers to visit. The building would often become too hot inside to be comfortable, and thin walls kept many discussions from being confidential.
The building was improved by adding new air conditioning units, increasing the thickness of the walls, and remodeling the inside of the clinic.

Sgt. Jose Carrera, a Phoenix native serving as the 1st Inf. Div. behavioral health NCO, said the improved atmosphere helps Soldiers open up to the staff.

“Staff members are able to do their job better,” Carrera said. “Just by improving the environment of the clinic helps improve the Soldier’s [ability] to open up and be able to disclose more things the staff can use to help.”
Breedlove said the renovations to the clinic help her and her Soldiers do their jobs more effectively.

“We’re here for all Soldiers,” Breedlove said. “It is our role to do what we can to help Soldiers and return them to duty.”

Carrera described the CSC and caring for the needs of the Soldiers under stress as a force multiplier.

“When you have Soldiers coming in and are able to receive the treatment they need, they go back to their units and become more resourceful, more effective, and therefore able to carry out the mission,” Carrera said.

The clinic is situated across from the Troop Medical Clinic and is open Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon.

From left, Maj. Gen. Vincent Brooks, the United States Division – South commanding general, Lt. Col. Pamela Breedlove, the Combat Stress Clinic commanding officer, and Capt. Lloyd Sporluck, commander of Battery A, 5th Battalion, 5th Air Defense Artillery Regiment,  unveil the placard dedicating the facility to Sgt. Brandon Maggart Sept. 10. (Photo by Sgt. Cody Harding, 1st Infantry Division Public Affairs.)

Spc. Devin Swanson, a Soldier in Battery A, 5th Battalion, 5th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, left, and Staff Sgt. Joshua Medina, also with 5-5 ADA, stand beside the plaque to commemorate the dedication of the Combat Stress Clinic Sept. 10. The clinic is used to help Soldiers deal with stress of a combat zone. (Photo by Sgt. Cody Harding, 1st Inf. Div. Public Affairs.)

For queries, contact the United States Division – South Public Affairs at USD-S_PAO@iraq.centcom.mil; by phone at (Iraqna) 0790-194-2865 or 770-263-9379. For more USDS news, visit our website: www.dangerforward.us.

Posted in 21st Century Military History, American Military History, Conflict, Global War on Terror, US Army, US military | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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