Bat-21 is a 1988 war film directed by Peter Markle, and adapted from the book by William C.. Anderson, novelist and retired United States Air Force colonel. Set during the Vietnam War, the film is a dramatization based upon** the rescue of a U.S. signals intelligence expert shot down behind enemy lines in Vietnam. The film stars Gene Hackman and Danny Glover with Jerry Reed, David Marshall Grant, Clayton Rohner, Erich Anderson and Joe Dorsey in supporting roles.
During the last days of the Vietnam War, USAF Lieutenant Colonel Iceal E. “Gene” Hambleton (Gene Hackman) call sign BAT-21 Bravo, is flying onboard a EB-66C electronic warfare aircraft, engaged in electronic countermeasures preparatory to a major bombing strike. Without warning, a number of SA-2 Guideline surface to air missiles are launched from South Vietnam, targeting their aircraft. A massive SAM explosion tears off the tail and Hambleton, in the navigator’s position, ejects as the sole survivor of the six-man crew.
While still coming down by parachute, Hambleton makes radio contact with Captain Bartholomew “Birddog” Clark (Danny Glover), the pilot of a Cessna O-2 Skymaster, flying a Forward Air Control mission near where the EB-66 was destroyed. Birddog becomes Hambleton’s link to rescue.
** “X” here. “a dramatization based upon” This event described in Navy Seal’s Untold Stories. Cue at 47:30 in this documentary.