National Yellow Bat Day
annually on April 21st (since 2016)
Doug Bonnot on March 7th, 2016
The Army Security Agency (ASA) was the signals intelligence branch of the United States Army. In existence from 1945–1976, it gathered intelligence, provided security for Army communications, and carried out electronic countermeasure operations. In 1977, it merged with a component of the Army focused on military intelligence, to create the United States Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM). One of the units of the ASA had been the 265th Army Security Agency (Airborne). It was part of the 101st Airborne Division and was a subordinate unit of the 301st ASA Battalion (Corps). After being constituted on March 2, 1967, it was activated on April 21—today's date—at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
The insignia of the 265th ASA Company (Airborne), which was painted on all unit equipment, was a bat with outstretched wings on a yellow moon background. Why a bat? As bats are nocturnal and represent secrecy and mystery, they are an apt symbol for a unit that does surveillance and provides intelligence support. The qualities that are associated with bats are the same qualities that members of the unit needed to be successful. The unit's motto was "Through the Night."
On November 19, 1967, an advance party of the unit deployed to Vietnam. The full company arrived less than a month later, on December 3, as part of Operation Eagle Thrust. They were designated as 265th Radio Research Company (Airborne)—265th RRC (ABN)—and stationed at Bien Hoa Air Base, to provide support for the 101st Airborne Division.
On January 31, 1968, Vietnam celebrated Tet, an important holiday that marks the lunar new year. It had traditionally been a day of truce during the war. Instead, North Vietnam, under the command of General Vo Nguyen Giap, launched a surprise widespread attack—the Tet Offensive. The 265th RRC (ABN) had received advance info about the campaign and had alerted commanders. The intelligence had not widely been accepted, but the unit responded by setting up a defensive perimeter at Bien Hoa Air Base. During the attack, the unit redeployed to Camp Eagle around the outskirts of Hue, at Phu Bai.
The 265th RRC (ABN) participated in 13 named campaigns in Vietnam and was deactivated on April 1, 1972. In 1976, it was reactivated and then became A Company 311th MI Battalion. It was deployed during the Iraq War in 2003, and after going through subsequent reorganizations, in 2007 it became B Company, 1st Special Troops Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault).
The contributions of the 265th Radio Research Company were kept secret for decades, as their sacrifices were highly classified. Doug Bonnot, a member of the 265th RRC (ABN) and author of a book about the unit, The Sentinel and the Shooter, created National Yellow Bat Day in 2016.
How to Observe National Yellow Bat Day
The day is to be observed by learning more about the Vietnam War and those who served in it. The following are some ideas on how you could do so:
- Read The Sentinel and the Shooter, a memoir written by Doug Bonnot, the creator of today's holiday, which focuses on the 265th Radio Research Company (Airborne).
- Watch The Vietnam War: A Film By Ken Burns and Lynn Novick or Vietnam: A Television History.
- Explore some photos and other information about the unit at the Bathead website.
- Read a book about the Vietnam War.
- Visit The National Vietnam War Museum or the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.
It is also suggested to use the hashtag #NationalYellowBatDay when posting on social media today.