April 21st honors National Yellow Bat Day. On this day in 1967, the 265th Army Security Agency Company (Airborne) with the 101st Airborne Division was activated at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
The official insignia of the 265th is a bat with outstretched wings on a full moon rising with the motto Through the Night below. Symbolically the bat represents mystery and secrecy due to its nocturnal nature, which well describes the intelligence support provided by the Army Security Agency Battalion.
Before deploying, all the military vehicles and equipment were painted with a yellow bat symbol which was clearly visible from a distance and aided in the identification of all unit equipment.
On November 19th of the same year, they were deployed to Vietnam with the designation 265th Radio Research Company (Airborne) to provide intelligence support to the 101st Airborne Division. Arriving a few weeks ahead of the Viet Cong Tet Offensive, they soon learned of the of the North Vietnamese campaign, but few commanders would believe the intelligence.
January 31st on the Vietnamese calendar, Tet, is the celebration of the lunar new year and is considered a most important holiday. During the conflict between North and South Vietnam, there had been a long-standing, informal truce on this day.
General Vo Nguyen Giap, commander of the North Vietnamese, was prepared to ring in the lunar new year with a series of coordinated attacks, to break the informal truce.
Doug Bonnot, who was assigned to the 265th RRC (ABN) Operations NCOIC in the spring of 1970 and author of The Sentinel and the Shooter says,”The offensive would come as a surprise to many but personnel of the 265th RRC (ABN) were manning their sector defensive perimeter of Bien Hoa Air Base, along with the very few small units that believed their intelligence reports, some 12 hours before the Tet Offensive was launched.”
The Viet Cong never breached these positions, and the Battle Flag of D: 275th Viet Cong Battalion hangs in the Sentinel Museum today.
The Sentinel Museum is a traveling museum which is designed to provide insight into the Vietnam conflict and awareness of the contributions of the 265th Radio Research Company. The 265th’s activities were highly classified, and the sacrifices of these honorable men cloaked in secrecy until decades after the end of the war. Even today the general public is unaware of these men who worked in the shadows providing silent and ceaseless support to the infantry soldier during the Vietnam War. The Yellow Bat is a symbol of their secrecy and their service, through the night.
HOW TO OBSERVE
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National Yellow Bat Day was submitted by Doug Bonnot, President of the Sentinel Chapter of the 101st Airborne Association. He and the chapter members are all 265th RRC (ABN) personnel. The Registrar at National Day Calendar approved the day in 2016. For more information on National Yellow Bat Day or the Sentinel Chapter of the 101st Airborne Association, please write to Sentinel Chapter, PO Box 205, Telford, TN 37690.
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