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Sue Spitulnik

Flash Fiction and personal thoughts

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thank you

Thank You Veterans

I’m sharing the post from the National Day of Calendar about National Yellow Bat Day. It was information I didn’t know. Thank you to all our veterans from any time period. The U.S. might not be perfect, but it sure is a grand country and I am proud to be part of it.

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.

D: 275th VC Bn flag which hangs in the Sentinel Museum. The text reads that their mission is to liberate the citizens of Long Binh and Bien Hoa.

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.

HISTORY

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.

Thank a Veteran

Today is Veterans Day. I will be spending the evening with a special group of Veterans who are my personal friends. We belong to the Rochester (NY) Veterans Writing Group. Following is part of my portfolio that is on our web-sight page:

When we gather, we catch up on each other’s news and then write for about twenty minutes from a prompt sheet that gets our ideas forming. There are usually four prompts provided by one of our facilitators. After writing, each person reads aloud what he or she has written. Members of the group then offer constructive criticism on how to improve semantics. Suggestions are made for extending the piece into an essay, short story, or whatever. That’s the plan.

This is what really happens; most of us have chosen a prompt that requires a walk down memory lane: it can be a poignant memory with a good, or not so good, outcome while in the military; a humorous escapade from childhood or adult life; something a loved one did or experienced; a subject we feel strongly about and why; or sharing what losing a loved one feels like. After each person reads, the others acknowledge that the emotions shared are legitimate, worthy, and acceptable. The military brotherhood understands the range of feelings and the impact of PTSD. It’s a safe place to share. Personally, I always need my box of tissues; that’s just how I’m wired. Funny, I can talk about a situation, but when I read my own writing, I cry. Sometimes it’s embarrassing.

The number that attends the group ebbs and flows. There can be as many as twelve people and sometimes only five. Most attendees have served in a branch (or two) of the U.S. military and others have close affiliations to a current or past military member. There are no rules other than to have a desire to write, share, and learn. And, it’s free.

Attending this group for over a year now has given me some remarkable gains — friends, understanding, and knowledge. I am part of the tribe and I belong.

My husband is a veteran, as is the father of my children. I pay close attention to the Veterans who are my Facebook friends and vote the way they do because I trust their judgement. They have paid the price for the freedoms we enjoy in this country. May I suggest, today and every day; Thank a Veteran.

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