Local author has new book
about cold war military spies


Letter #391, August 7, 2012

Below is a synopsis of a book by a local author whose latest volume has just been released. The author is Robert "Clay" Cunningham and the novel is an espionage thriller based on his own experiences in military counterintelligence in the Southwest. It is now available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Books-A-Million websites. It is available in hard cover, paperback, and ebook (Kindle, Nook) formats.

I think that this story would be of interest to many who either live or have lived in the Blacklick Valley. He uses local last names from friends in Nanty Glo, and Cody, Wyoming, for informants, FBI, CIA agents, and Army Security Agency personnel. However, the master KGB spy Alexander Feklisov and Ed Simmers, a real life cryptologist from Nanty Glo, are real.

Bob graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and is married to Betty Dean (Kerr) Cunningham, formerly of Nanty Glo. They live in Cody, Wyoming, where Bob retired from the Department of the Interior. He has written other books dealing with his experiences as a park ranger in Denali National Park and Yellowstone National Park.

Paul Ceria
Fayetteville, NC


THE CHRISTMAS DRINK
By Clay Cunningham

The Christmas Drink is a military historic fiction novel based on experiences which, by law, were prevented from being revealed for fifty years.

Cunningham at age 19 in 1955The novel involves two athletic, intelligent, nineteen-year-old high school graduates who join the U.S. Army. Both are from Pennsylvania; Fred Coulter, from Allentown, joined the army because he felt he needed more time and experience to make a wise selection for a career and what to study in college. John David Dalton (J.D.) is from Nanty Glo, a small coal-mining town. He joined because his family could not afford college and he wanted the GI Bill for his education. Both are chosen and trained as counterintelligence agents, because the army needed two intelligent, athletic young men who would fit in with the GIs who filled the Juarez, Mexico, bars every weekend.

The attraction for the numerous GIs rushing to Juarez every weekend was the raucous night life, prostitutes, and fifteen-cent drinks there in 1955-1958. The Russian KGB took advantage of the presence of those missile and weapons specialists from Biggs Strategic Air Command Base and Ft. Bliss across the border in El Paso, and from White Sands Proving Grounds in New Mexico. Russian enemy agents were pumping the GIs in the Juarez bars for information and paying informants to tell them about America's weapon technologies.

The massive Russian spy ring was allegedly headed up by the master spy who lifted America's atom bomb technology from Los Alamos in the 1940s. Code named Perseus by American intelligence, Alexander Feklisov controlled spies in Juarez, White Sands, and Las Cruces. One of the Russian agents, Tonya Darling, who worked for the chief scientist at White Sands, falls in love with J.D.'s partner.

Fred and J.D. work with a team including members of the FBI, CIA, and the Army Security Agency communications personnel to eventually break up the spy ring. An important aspect of the story is the constant effort Fred and J.D. expend planning for their future in seeking a college education. The two walk on the New Mexico A&M spring baseball practice and earn a four-year scholarship to play both football and baseball for the university. However, their athletic prowess leads Feklisov to discover that they are intelligence agents. Feklisov is forced to abandon his operation, but he plans to harm or eliminate Fred and J.D. before he leaves with his pilfered weapons data.

Fred and J.D. work under the guidance and care of Major Melvin Tyler, a former Office of Strategic Services spy who worked in Germany during World War II. He and his wife Delores look after the teenage counterspies like they were their own children, none of which they had.

J.D. and Fred are also involved in infiltrating other military installations as a test of their security readiness, and UFO investigations at White Sands. Their scholarships at New Mexico A&M after they are discharged are put in jeopardy when the university fires the coach.

This is a story involving real problems of two young men in the 1950s, their mature thinking, their loves, disappointments, friendships, patriotism, intelligence investigation techniques, and a look at the cold war activities between two super powers at that time.

 


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