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1st 50th Infantry Association

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1. Vietnam War Glossary

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Vietnam Era War "Jargon" ~ U.S. Army Terminology
1st Battalion (Mechanized) 50th Infantry

Photo by Mack Thomas, 3AD PAO, 1969

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Vietnam War-era Jargon and Terminology

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4-F: U.S. draft classification given to those deemed unfit for military service

50 (or 50-cal): .50 caliber machine gun

51-cal: heavy machine gun used by the enemy; the 12.7 mm Communist Bloc Heavy Machine Gun

60 (or M60): the M60A1 7.62 mm machine gun carried by U.S. Infantry; also called "The Pig".

60 mm (or 60 Mike Mike): 60 mm light mortar used by U.S. Marines

79: the M-79 40 mm grenade launcher

81 mm: 81 mm mortar

82 mm: a mortar used by the enemy

105: 105-mm howitzer

155: 155-mm howitzer

175: 175-mm howitzer

201 file: a U.S. Army personnel file

ALPHA return to top

AAR: after-action report

AC: aircraft commander

acting Jack (or AJ): a person of lower rank temporarily holding the position of sergeant or above and authorized on special orders to wear the rank insignia.

actual: the unit commander. Used to distinguish the commander from the radioman when the call sign is used.

ADSID: air-delivered seismic intruder-detection device; microphone and transmitter dropped into suspect areas

Advance Guard Youth: Vietnamese student social and sports organization that evolved into a non-Communist nationalist movement by 1945.

Advanced Individual Training: specialized training taken after Basic Training, also referred to as Advanced Infantry Training

AFVN: Armed Forced Vietnam Network radio station

Agency: the Central Intelligence Agency

AGL: above level ground

A-gunner: assistant gunner

AHB: assault helicopter battalion

AID: Agency for International Development

Airborne: refers to soldiers who are qualified as parachutists

air cav: air cavalry; helicopter-borne infantry; helicopter gunship assault teams

Airmobile: helicopter-borne infantry

AIT: advanced infantry training

AK-47: Soviet-manufactured Kalashnikov semi-automatic and fully automatic combat assault rifle, 7.62-mm; the basic weapon of the Communist forces. Known as the Type 56 to the Chinese, it is characterized by an explosive popping sound.

AK-50: newer version of the AK-47. Some have a permanently mounted "illegal" triangular bayonet,
which leaves a sucking wound that will not close.

ALPHA: military phonetic for the letter 'A'

ammo dump: location where live or expended ammunition is stored

amtrack: U.S. Marine amphibious armored vehicle used to transport troops and supplies, armed with a .30-caliber machine gun

angel track: an armored personnel carrier used as an aid station

AO: area of operations

AOD: administrative officer on duty

ao-dai: traditional dress of Vietnamese women. A brightly colored silk top worn over loose fitting silk trousers.

APB: armored patrol boat used in riverine operations..

APC: M113-series armored personnel carrier. A tracked vehicle used to transport Army troops or supplies, usually armed with a .50-caliber machine gun.

ACAV: armored cavalry assault vehicle. An APC (M113A1) modified for use as a fighting vehicle with turret armor for the track commander, gun shield for the .50-caliber machine gun and two side mounted gun shields and mounts for M60 machines.

ACV: air cushion vehicle used in riverine operations.

APL: barracks ship

APO: Army post office located in San Francisco for overseas mail to Vietnam.

AR: Army regulation

ARA: aerial rocket artillery. A Cobra AG-1H helicopter with four XM-159C 19-rocket (2.75 inch) pods.

arc light: code name for B-52 bombers strikes along the Cambodian-Vietnamese border. These operations shook earth for ten miles away from the target area.

Article 15: section of the Uniform Military Code of Justice. A form of non-judicial punishment.

arty: shorthand term for artillery

Arvin: soldier in the ARVN, or the ARVN itself

ARVN: Army of the Republic of Vietnam; the South Vietnamese Regular Army

A-team: basic ten man team of the U.S. Special Forces. The A-teams often led irregular military units which were not responsible to the Vietnamese military command.

ATC: armored troop carrier used in riverine operations.

AWOL: absent without leave; leaving a post or position without official permission

azimuth: a bearing from North

BRAVO return to top

B-40 rocket: a shoulder-held rocket-propelled grenade launcher

B-52: U.S. Air Force high-altitude bomber; also, slang for a can opener

ba: married woman; used as a title, like "Mrs."

bac bac: bastardized Vietnamese for "to shoot"

bac-si: doctor; also used to refer to medic in the U.S. Army

ballgame: an operation or a contact

Ba Mu'o'i Ba: brand name of a Vietnamese beer

band-aid: medic

bandoliers: belts of machine gun ammunition

BAR: Browning automatic rifle. A .30-caliber magazine-fed automatic rifle used by U.S. troops during World War II and Korea.

base camp: a resupply base for field units and a location for headquarters of brigade or division size units, artillery batteries and air fields. Also known as the rear area.

Basic: basic training

bac si de: home-brewed rice whiskey

basketball: an illumination-dropping aircraft mission, capable of lighting approximately a square mile of terrain

battalion: a military unit usually consisting of a headquarters and headquarters company and two or more companies, troops, batteries, or similar units

battery: an artillery unit equivalent to a company. Six 105mm or 155mm howitzers or two 8-inch or 175mm self-propelled howitzers.

battle-sight zeroing: process of adjusting a weapon's sights and windage to an individual soldier so the weapon, when fired, will hit the object of aim.

BCD: bad conduct discharge

BDA: bomb damage assessment

beans and dicks: military C-ration hot dogs and beans

beans and motherfuckers: military C-ration lima beans and ham

beaten zone: area where the majority of bullets will strike when a machine gun is laid-in to cover a part of a defensive perimeter or part of an ambush zone.

beehive round: an explosive artillery shell which delivered thousands of small projectiles, "like nails with fins," instead of shrapnel.

berm: perimeter line of a fortification; usually raised above surrounding area

Big Boys: artillery; slang for tanks

Big Red One: nickname for the 1st Infantry Division

Binh Xuyen: the organized crime syndicate that controlled much of the Vietnamese underworld and Saigon police until deposed by Diem's forces in 1955.

bird: any aircraft, but usually refers to helicopters

bird dog: forward air controller, usually in a small, maneuverable single-engined prop airplane

BK amputee: below-the-knee amputation of the leg

blood trail: a trail of blood on the ground left by a fleeing man who has been wounded

blooper: the M-79 grenade launcher. A 40-millimeter, shotgunlike weapon that shoots spin-armed "balls" or small grenades.

blue feature: any water feature. So called because of the color used to designate water on topographic maps.

body bag: plastic bag used to transport dead bodies from the field

body count: the number of enemy killed, wounded, or captured during an operation. The term was used by Washington and Saigon as a means of measuring the progress of the war.

boo-coo: bastardized French, from beaucoup, meaning "much" or "many".

boom-boom: sex

boondoggle: any military operation that hasn't been completely thought out. An operation that is absurd or useless.

boonie hat: soft hat worn by a boonierat in the boonies

boonierat: a combat infantryman

boonies: infantry term for the field; jungles or swampy areas far from the comforts of civilization

boot: a soldier just out of boot camp; inexperienced, untested

BOQ: bachelor officer quarters; living quarters for officers

bouncing Betty: antipersonnel mine with two charges: the first propels the explosive charge upward, and
the other is set to explode at about waist level.

bowl: pipe used for smoking dope

BRAVO: military phonetic for the letter 'B'

Bravo: Army designation for the infantry man

breaking squelch: disrupting the natural static of a radio by depressing the transmit bar on another radio set to the same frequency

brigade: a tactical and administrative military unit composed of a headquarters and one or more battalions of infantry or armor, with other supporting units.

bro: a black soldier; also, at times, boonierats from the same unit

bronco: twin-engine observation aircraft equipped with rockets and miniguns

Bronze Star: U.S. military decoration awarded for heroic or meritorious service not involving aerial flights

brother: a fellow black Marine; sometimes used as slang for all black males

brown bar: a lieutenant; denotes the single bar of the rank. In the field, officers wore camouflage rank
which was often brown or black instead of brass.

Brown Water Navy: term applied to the U.S. Navy units assigned to the inland boat patrols of the Mekong
River delta.

BS: bullshit, as in chewing the fat, telling tall tales, or telling lies

buckle: to fight. "Buckle for your dust" means to fight furiously

bummer: bad luck, a real drag

bush: infantry term for the field

bust caps: Marine Corps term for firing a rifle rapidly

butter bar: see brown bar

CHARLEY return to top

C-4: plastic, putty textured explosive carried by infantry soldiers. It burns like sterno when lit, and was used to heat C-rations in the field.
C-7: small cargo airplane; the Caribou.

C-54: largest of the American helicopters, strictly for cargo. Also called Flying Crane or Skycrane.

C-123: small cargo airplane; the Provider.

C-130: large propeller-driven Air Force planes that carry people and cargo; the Hercules

C-141: The Lockheed C-141 Starlifter is the "workhorse" of the Air Mobility Command. The jet aircraft was introduced in 1963 to meet military standards as a troop and cargo carrier. It carries either 200 troops, 155 paratroops, 103 litters and 14 seats, or 68,725 lbs (31,239 kilograms) of cargo.

CA: combat assault. The term is used to describe dropping troopers into a hot LZ

cache: hidden supplies

camies: World War II term for camouflage uniforms

can cuoc: an identification card

C&C: command and control helicopter used by reconnaissance or unit commanders

Can Lao: the powerful semisecret political party of the Diem government headed by Ngo Dinh Nhu, Diem's brother. It permeated the entire administrative, intelligence, and defense structures of South Vietnam.

Cao Dai: a religious and political sect formed in the 1920s by a group of South Vietnamese intellectuals, combining the three major religions of Vietnam --Buddhism, Confucianism, and Christianity -- with the worship of Vietnamese and Western heroes. With a strength of more that 1,500,000 followers, groups of Cao Dai still waged a stubborn resistance war against the Communists (especially in Tay Ninh Province) even after the U.S. troop withdrawal.

CAP: civil action program. U.S. military personnel working with Vietnamese civilians.

capping: shooting at

CAR-15: a carbine rifle

carbine: a short-barreled, lightweight automatic or semiautomatic rifle

Caribou: small transport plane for moving men and material

Cav: Cavalry; the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile)

CC: company commander

CG: commanding general

chao: hello or goodby, depending upon the context

CHARLIE: military phonetic for the letter 'C"

Charlie: Viet Cong; the enemy

Charlie-Charlie: C&C

Chas: Viet Cong; the enemy

cheap Charlie: GI who is frugal with his money while in a bar

cherry: slang term for youth and inexperience; a virgin

Chicom: Chinese communist

Chicom mine: Chinese mine; can be made of plastic

Chieu Hoi: the "open arms" program, promising clemency and financial aid to Viet Cong and NVA soldiers and cadres who stopped fighting and returned to South Vietnamese government authority.

Chinook: CH-47 cargo helicopter

choi oi: exclamation of surprise

chop chop: slang for food

chopper: slang for "helicopter".

chuck: term used by black marines to identify white individuals; often derogatory

Chuck: the Viet Cong; the enemy

CIB: combat infantry badge. The Army award for serving as an Infantryman in a combat zone for 30 days or more, or for being wounded while serving as an Infantrytman in combat.

CIDG: civilian irregular defense groups

CINCPAC: commander in chief of all American forces in the Pacific region; based at Camp Smith, Hawaii.

Civilian Irregular Defense Group: American financed, irregular military units which were led by members of Special Forces A-teams. Members of these units were Vietnamese nationals, but were usually members of ethnic minorities in the country.

clacker: a small hand-held firing device for a claymore mine

claymore: an antipersonnel mine carried by the infantry which, when detonated, propelled small steel cubes in a 60-degree fan-shaped pattern to a maximum range of 100 meters

clearance: permission from both military and political authorities to engage the enemy in a particular area

clutch belt: cartridge belt worn by Marines

CMH: Congressional Medal of Honor. The highest U.S. military decoration awarded for conspicuous gallantry at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty.

Co: unmarried woman; used as a title, like "Miss"

CO: commanding officer

Cobra: an AH-1G attack helicopter. Also known as a gunship, armed with rockets and machine guns.

Cochin-china: the French name for its southern Vietnam colony, encompassing the III Corps and Mekong Delta rice-producing lowlands, which earlier was part of Cambodia.

Co Cong: female Viet Cong members

Code of Conduct: military rules for U.S. soldiers taken prisoner by the enemy

comics: topographic maps

commo: shorthand for "communications"

commo bunker: bunker containing vital communications equipment. Usually included in the last redoubt of established defensive positions.

commo wire: communications wire

company: a military unit usually consisting of a headquarters and two or more platoons

compound: a fortified military installation

concertina wire: coiled barbed wire used as an obstacle

conex container: corrugated metal packing crate for standard transport by sea, air or land vehicles, usually 6 feet wide, 8 feet high and available in standard lengths.

contact: firing on or being fired upon by the enemy

CONUS: continental United States

CORDS: civil operations and revolutionary development support. Created by civilian administration, MACV, and the CIA to coordinate American pacification efforts.

COSVN: central office of South Vietnam. Communist headquarters for military and political action in South Vietnam.

counterinsurgency: antiguerrilla warfare

country team: the staff and personnel of an American embassy assigned to a particular country

co van: advisor. American assigned to Vietnamese military units or to political division within the country to help direct and train Vietnamese military and civilian officials.

coxwain flat: the area where the coxwain (driver) stands when he steers a boat or ship

CP: command post

CP pills (Chloraquine-Primaquine): the large orange anti-malarial pills (the "yellow" in "two whites and a yellow"). Due to CP resistant malaria in the Cntral Highlands, Dapsone (the "whites") was also used.

CQ: charge of quarters. An officer officially in charge of a unit headquarters at night.

C-rations: combat rations. Canned meals for use in the field. Each usually consisted of a can of some basic course, a can of fruit, a packet of some type of dessert, a packet of powdered coca, a small pack of cigarettes, and two pieces of chewing gum.

crispy critters: burn victims

CS: a riot-control gas which burns the eyes and mucus membranes

cumshaw: unofficial trading, begging, bartering, or stealing from other branches of the service

cyclo: motorized rickshaw

DELTA return to top

DA: Department of the Army

Dac Cong: Viet Cong special forces

Dai Doan Ket: Party of Great Solidarity. Organized in 1954 to unify the non-Communist nationalist organizations in South Vietnam in the period before Ngo Dinh Diem came to full power. Headed by Diem's brother, Ngo Dinh Nhu, this was the forerunner of the Can Lao.

daily-daily: daily anti-malarial pill

dai uy: captain

Dai Viet: formed in 1930 as a non-Communist revolutionary and political organization throughout Vietnam. Though more widespread and with a larger membership than Ho Chi Minh's Viet Minh or Lao Dong Party, the Dai Viets were fragmented into regional factions. The assassination of Truong Tu Anh, the Dai Viet leader, in 1946 by Ho's agents further fragmented the Dai Viets. By the mid-1960s the Dai Viets had evolved into two major parties that both played key roles in opposing or supporting the various South Vietnamese governments. Since 1975, there has been severe repression against Dai Viet members, some of whom still carry on resistance to the Communist government.

dap: handshake and greeting which may last up to ten minutes and is characterized by the use of both hands and often comprised of slaps and snaps of the fingers. Used by black soldiers, highly ritualized and unit specific.

Dapsone pills: the small white anti-malarial pills (the "whites" in "two whites and a yellow") used in the Central Highlands with CP pills to counter falcipium-resistant strains of mosquitos..

DCI: the Director of the CIA

DEFCON: Defense Readiness Condition. A uniform system of progressive alert postures for use between the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the commanders of U.S. commands and for use by the Services. Defense Readiness Conditions are graduated to match situations of varying military severity (status of alert). Defense Readiness Conditions are identified by the short title DEFCON (5), (4), (3), (2), and (1), as appropriate. (with DEFCON 1 being the highest readiness level and DEFCON 5, the lowest).

DELTA: military phonetic for the letter 'D'

DEROS: Army term meaning "date of expected return from overseas." The day all soldiers in Vietnam were waiting for. The US Navy used PRD (projected rotation date).

det-cord: detonating cord used with explosives

deuce-and-a-half: two-and-a-half ton truck

dew: marijuana

DH5: Viet Cong claymore mine

DH10: Viet Cong claymore mine

di: go

dicks: derogatory expression referring to both male genitalia and the enemy

diddy-bopping: walking carelessly

didi: slang from the Vietnamese word di, meaning "to leave" or "to go"

didi mau: slang Vietnamese for "go quickly"

dink: derogatory term for an Asian

dinky dau: to be crazy, from "dien cai dau"

district team: American personnel assigned to act as advisors to Vietnamese military and civilian officials at the district level.

District Mobile Company: the major Viet Cong fighting unit organized within each district in Vietnam. The District Mobile Company was assigned to carry out various assignments from direct offensive operations to sabotage and terrorism.

division: a military unit usually consisting of a headquarters and two or more brigades.

DMOS: duty MOS (military occupational speciality); the MOS of the job you were doing (whether trained for it or not).

DMZ: demilitarized zone. The dividing line between North and South Vietnam established in 1954 at the Geneva Convention.

doc: medic or corpsman

dong: unit of North Vietnamese money about equal to a penny

doo-mommie: English approximation of the Vietnamese du ma, meaning literally "fuck mother"

double veteran: Having sex with a woman and then killing her made one a double veteran. Perhaps apocryphal, perhaps not.

DP: displaced person

D-ring: a D-shaped metal snap link used to hold gear together

DRO: dining room orderly

drops: reduction in length of tour caused by overall reduction and withdrawal of American forces from Vietnam.

DTs: defensive targets

dung lai!: stop!

dust-off: medical evacuation by helicopter

DX: direct exchange. Also, to discard or dispose of, or to kill someone.

ECHO return to top

eagle flights: large air assault of helicopters

EAOS: date of departure for overseas duty station; the Army term was ETS (estimated time of separation from military service) while the US Navy used EAOS (end of active obligated service).

Early-Outs: a drop or reduction in time in service. A soldier with 150 days or less remaining on his active duty commitment when he DEROSed from Vietnam also ETSed from the army under the Early Out program.

ECHO: military phonetic for the letter 'E'

elephant grass: tall, razor-edged tropical plant indigenous to certain parts of Vietnam

Eleven Bravo: the MOS of an infantryman

EM: enlisted man

EOD: explosive ordinance disposal. A team that disarms explosive devices.

E-tool: entrenching tool. Folding shovel carried by infantrymen.

ETS: date of departure for overseas duty station; the Army term was ETS (estimated time of separation from military service) while the US Navy used EAOS (end of active obligated service).

evac'd: evacuated

expectants: casualties who are expected to die

FOXTROT return to top

F-4: Phantom jet fighter-bombers. Range: 1,000 miles. Speed: 1400 mph. Payload: 16,000 lbs. The workhorse of the tactical air support fleet.

FAC: forward air controller; a person who coordinates air strikes

fast mover: an F-4

fatigues: standard combat uniform, green in color

FB: firebase

FDC: fire direction control center

finger charge: explosive booby-trapping device which takes its name from the size and shape's being approximately that of a man's finger

fire base: temporary artillery encampment used for fire support of forward ground operations

firefight: a battle, or exchange of small arms fire with the enemy

Fire Track: flame-thrower tank

five: radio call sign for the executive officer of a unit

flack jacket: heavy fiberglass-filled vest worn for protection from shrapnel

flaky: to be in a state of mental disarray, characterized by spaciness and various forms of unreasoning fear

flare: illumination projectile; hand-fired or shot from artillery, mortars, or air

flechette: a small dart-shaped projectile clustered in an explosive warhead. A mine without great explosive power containing small pieces of shrapnel intended to wound and kill.

FNG: fucking new guy

FO: forward observer. A person attached to a field unit to coordinate the placement of direct or indirect fire from ground, air, and naval forces.

foo gas: a mixture of explosives and napalm, usually set in a fifty-gallon drum

fours: F-4s

FOXTROT: military phonetic for the letter 'F'

frag: fragmentation grenade

fragging: the assassination of an officer by his own troops, usually be a grenade

freak: radio frequency. Also, a junkie or a doper.

Freedom Bird: the plane that took soldiers from Vietnam back to the World

free fire zone: free strike zone

free strike zone: area where everyone was deemed hostile and a legitimate target by U.S. forces

French fort: a distinctive triangular structure built by the hundreds by the French

freq: radio frequency

friendly fire: accidental attacks on U.S. or allied soldiers by other U.S. or allied soldiers

fuck: along with fucked and fuckin, the most commonly used word in the GI vocabulary other than the article 'a'

fucked up: wounded or killed. Also, to get stoned, drunk, or to be foolish or do something stupid.

fugazi: fucked up or screwed up

FULRO: United Front for the Struggle of Oppressed Races. Resistance organization in the highlands of Vietnam made up of Montagnards, Cham, and ethnic Khmer. FULRO is still conducting resistance against Communist operations to subjugate the indigenous tribal peoples.

FUNCINPEC: National United Front for an Independent, Neutral, Peaceful, and Cooperative Cambodia. Prince Sihanouk's non-Communist political and military organization which attempted to drive the Vietnamese occupation forces out of Cambodia and reestablish independence. In 1982 FUNCINPEC joined the Cambodian Coalition Government and shared the seat at the United Nations.

funny papers: topographic maps

FWMAF: Free World Military Assistance Forces. The Allies.

GOLF return to top

G-3: division level tactical advisor; a staff officer.

Garand: the M-1 rifle

ghosting: goldbricking or sandbagging; fucking off

GI: government issue. Usually refers to an American soldier.

Glad bag: slang term for body bag

GOLF: military phonetic for the letter 'G'

gook: derogatory term for an Asian; derived from Korean slang for "person" and passed down by Korean war veterans

Green Berets: U.S. Special Forces

greenline (or perimeter): outer limits of a military position. The area beyond the perimeter belongs to the enemy.

greens: Army Class A uniform

GR point: graves registration point. That place on a military base where the identification, embalming and processing of dead soldiers takes place as part of the operations of the quartermaster.

grids: map broken into numbered thousand-meter squares

grunt: infantryman. Originally slang for a Marine fighting in Vietnam but later applied to any solder fighting there; a boonierat.

GSW: gunshot wound

the Gun: the M-60

gung ho: enthusiastic (usually about military matters and killing people)

gunship: armed helicopter

GVN: Government of South Vietnam

HOTEL return to top

HALO: high-altitude, low-opening jumping for insertion of troops behind enemy lines. The jump is begun from 15,000 feet, with an average free-fall time of approximately seventeen minutes.

hamlet: a small rural village

hammer and anvil: an infantry tactic of surrounding an enemy base area, then sending in other units to drive the enemy out of hiding.

hand frag: a fragmentation grenade thrown by a soldier

H&E: high explosive

H&I: harassment and interdiction. Artillery bombardments used to deny the enemy terrain which they might find beneficial to their campaign; general rather than specific, confirmed military targets; random artillery fire.

hardstand: a pierced steel plate (PSP) platform over sand

hard-stripe sergeant: sergeant in the grade of E5 or up, as opposed to Acting Jack (temporary holder of the position but not the rank).

Heart: a Purple Heart award for a wound; the wound itself

heat tabs: flammable tablet used to heat C-rations. Often in short supply.

Hercules: a C-130 aircraft.

HES: Hamlet Evaluation System. An evaluation system devised and run by Americans in Saigon which required monthly computerized reports from all the DSAs in the country.

HHC: headquarters and headquarters company higher-higher: the honchos; the command or commanders

HM: Navy hospital corpsman; a medic

Hmong: A dominant Laotian hill tribe, around sixty percent of whom opposed the North Vietnamese and Pathet Lao, in alliance with the Americans and Royal Lao government. After 1975 the Communists stepped up repression against the Hmong, who refused to be collectivized. Massive numbers of Hmong have been killed or driven into Thailand.

Hoa Hao: a Buddhist sect of two million in the western Mekong Delta, founded in the 1930s. Since the assassination of the founder and prophet, Huynh Phu So, by Ho Chi Minh's forces, the Hoa Hao have been fiercely anti-Communist.

Ho Chi Minh slippers: sandals made from tires. The soles are made from the tread and the straps from inner tubes.

Hoi-Chanh: Vietnamese Communist soldiers and cadre who rallied to the South Vietnamese government under the Chieu Hoi amnesty program.

honey-dippers: people responsible for burning human excrement

hooch / hootch: a hut or simple dwelling, either military or civilian

hoochgirl: Vietnamese woman employed by American military as maid or laundress

hook: a radio; a radio handset

horn: radio microphone

hot: area under fire

HOTEL: military phonetic for the letter 'H'

hot LZ: a landing zone under enemy fire

howitzer: a short cannon used to fire shells at medium velocity and with relatively high trajectories

HQ: headquarters

Huey: nickname for the UH-1 series helicopters

hump: march or hike carrying a rucksack; to perform any arduous task

INDIA return to top

I Corps: the northernmost military region in South Vietnam

II Corps: the Central Highlands military region in South Vietnam

III Corps: the densely populated, fertile military region between Saigon and the Highlands

IV Corps: the marshy Mekong Delta southernmost military region

IG: Inspector General

illum: an illumination flare, usually fired by a mortar or artillery weapon

immersion foot: condition resulting from feet being submerged in water for a prolonged period of time, causing cracking and bleeding.

in-country: Vietnam

increments: removable charges attached to mortar fins. If they become wet, the mortar round misfires and falls short.

INDIA: military phonetic for the letter 'I'

insert: to be deployed into a tactical area by helicopter

Iron Triangle: Viet Cong dominated area between the Thi-Tinh and Saigon rivers, next to Cu Chi district

JULIETT return to top

JAG: judge advocate general, the legal department of the Armed Services

jet jockey: Air Force fighter pilot

Jody: the person who wins your lover away while you are in the Nam. From the marching song or cadence
count, "Ain't no use in goin' home / Jody's got your girl and gone / sound off...."

john wayne: can opener; also, cookie which comes in C-rats. Also used as a verb to describe the actions of someone who exposes himself to danger.

JULIET: military phonetic for the letter 'J'

jungle boots: footwear that looks like a combination of combat boot and canvas sneaker used by the U.S. military in a tropical climate, where leather rots because of the dampness. The canvas structure also speeds drying after crossing streams, rice paddies, etc.

jungle fatigues (or jungle utilities): lightweight tropical fatigues

KILO return to top

k: kilometer

KBA: killed by artillery

K-bar: combat knife

KCS: Kit Carson scout

KIA: killed in action

killing zone: the area within an ambush where everyone is either killed or wounded

kill zone: the radius of a circle around an explosive device within which it is predicted that 95 percent of all occupants will be killed should the device explode

KILO: military phonetic for the letter 'K'

Kit Carson scout: former Viet Cong or NVA soldiers who act as guides for U.S. military units

khong xau: don't worry about it; literally, not bad

klick: kilometer

Kool-Aid: killed in action

KP: kitchen police; mess hall duty

KPNFL: Khmer People's National Liberation Front. The major non-Communist Cambodian political and resistance organization fighting against the Vietnamese occupation force. Formed in 1979 by former prime minister Son Sann, the KPNFL is responsible for caring for and protecting nearly two-thirds of the 250,000 Cambodian refugees on the Thailand border from attacks by both the Khmer Rouge and the Vietnamese. Also called the Sereika by Cambodians, the KPNLF joined the resistance coalition government (CGOK) in 1982 and shared Cambodia's seat at the United Nations.

LIMA return to top

L: a type of ambush set-up, shaped like the letter 'L'

lager: a night defensive perimeter

Lao Dong: the Vietnamese Workers Party

LAW: light antitank weapon; a shoulder-fired, 66-millimeter rocket, similar in effect to a 3.5-inch rocket, except that the launcher is made of Fiberglass, and is disposable after one shot

lay chilly: to freeze; to stop all motion

LBJ: Long Binh Jail, a military stockade on Long Binh post

LCM: a mechanized landing craft used in harbors and inland waterways

leg: slightly contemptuous term used by airborne-qualified troops when they are talking about regular infantry

lego: infantry unit

lien doi: company group. A Vietnamese military unit consisting of three militia infantry companies lifer: career military man. The term is often used in a derogatory manner.

LIMA: military phonetic for the letter 'L'

lima-lima: land line. Refers to telephone communications between two points on the ground.

litters: stretchers to carry dead and wounded

little people: the enemy

lit-up: fired upon; shot and killed or wounded

LLDB: Luc Luong Dac Biet. The South Vietnamese Special Forces.

LMG: light machine gun. The Soviet made RPD, a bi-pod mounted, belt fed weapon similar to the American M-60 machine gun. The RPD fires the same cartridge as the AK-47 and the SKS carbine.

loach: a LOH, or light observation helicopter

Log Bird: logistical (resupply) helicopter

LP: listening post. A two- or three-man position set up at night outside the perimeter away from the main body of troopers, which acted as an early warning system against attack. Also, an amphibious landing platform used by infantry for storming beaches from the sea.

LRRP: Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (also called LRP). An elite team usually composed of five to seven men who go deep into the jungle to observe enemy activity without initiating contact.

LSA: small arms lubricant

LST: troop landing ship

LT: lieutenant

lurps: members of Long Range Reconnaissance Patrols

LZ: landing zone. Usually a small clearing secured temporarily for the landing of resupply helicopters. Some become more permanent and eventually become base camps.

MIKE return to top

M-1: World War II vintage American rifle used by many Vietnamese forces

M-14: Wood stock rifle used in early portion of Vietnam conflict; often used as a sniper rifle.

M-16: the standard U.S. military rifle used in Vietnam from 1966 on. Successor to the M-14.

M-60: the standard lightweight machine gun used by U.S. forces in Vietnam

M-79: a U.S. military hand-held grenade launcher

MA: mechanical ambush. Euphemism for an American set booby trap.

MACV: Military Assistance Command / Vietnam. The main American military command unit that had responsibility for and authority over all U.S. military activities in Vietnam. Based at Tan Son Nhut.

mad minute: a weapons free-fire practice and test session

Main Force Battalion: the primary Viet Cong fighting force within each province of South Vietnam. These units were often large enough and well enough equipped to participate in direct attacks on large Vietnamese and American installations and units.

mama san: pidgin used by American servicemen for any older Vietnamese woman

MARS: Military Affiliate Radio Station. Used by soldiers to call home via Signal Corps and ham radio equipment.

Mas-Cal: mass casualty

MASH: mobile Army surgical unit

MAT: mobile advisory team. Five-man teams of American advisors who were assigned to live and work in the Vietnamese villages.

Mat Tran: the Vietnamese Liberation Front.

marker round: the first round fired by mortars or artillery. Used to adjust the following rounds onto the target.

mech: abbreviation for mechanized infantry

mechanized: a unit operating with tanks and/or armored personnel carriers

Med Cap (or MEDCAP): Medical Civil Action Program in which U.S. medical personnel would go into the villages to minister to the local populace.

medivac: medical evacuation from the field by helicopter

mermite: large insulated foot containers

MFW: multiple frag wounds

MG: machine gun

MIA: missing in action

mighty mite: commercial air-blower used for injecting gas into tunnels

MIKE: military phonetic for the letter 'M'

mike-mike: shorthand for millimeter

million-dollar wound: a non-crippling wound serious enough to warrant return to the U.S.

Minigun: electronically controlled, extremely rapidly firing machine gun. Most often mounted on aircraft to be used against targets on the ground.

Mr. Charles: the Viet Cong; the enemy

MI team: military intelligence team

Monday pills: anti-malarial pills taken once a week

the Monster: a PRC-77

Montagnard: a Vietnamese term for several tribes of mountain people inhabiting the hills and mountains of central and northern Vietnam.

moose: a Vietnamese mistress

mortar: a muzzle-loading cannon with a short tube in relation to its caliber that throws projectiles with low muzzle velocity at high angles.

MOS: military occupational specialty

most ricky-tick: immediately, if not sooner

MP: military police

MPC: military payment currency. The scrip U.S. soldiers were paid in.

MR IV: Viet Cong military region surrounding and including Saigon

mule: small, motorized platform originally designed to carry a 106-millimeter recoilless rifle, but most often used for transporting supplies and personnel.

NOVEMBER return to top

Nam: Vietnam

napalm: a jellied petroleum substance which burns fiercely, and is used as a weapon against personnel.

NCO: noncommissioned officer.

NDP: night defensive position

net: radio frequency setting, from "network."

New Socialist Man: Orwellian concept adopted by the Communists. The ideal collectivized citizen.

Next: the man who said he was the next to rotated home.

nickel: the number five

NLF: National Liberation Front

no sweat: easy, simple

NPD: night perimeter defense

number one: the best

number ten: the worst

number ten thousand: a description of how bad things can be

Nung: tribespeople of Chinese origin, from the highlands of North Vietnam. Some who moved South worked with the U.S. Special Forces.

nuoc-mam: fermented fish sauce used by the Vietnamese as a condiment; much was produced in Phan Thiet, known as the "nuoc mam capital of the world".

NVA: North Vietnamese Army

OSCAR return to top

OCS: officer candidate school

OD: olive drab, a camouflage color

opcon: operational control

open sheaf: a term used in calling artillery, whereby the artillery rounds were spread along an axis rather than concentrated on a single point (as when it was desired to cover a treeline).

OR: operating room

OSCAR: military phonetic for the letter 'O'

OSS: Office of Strategic Services

over the fence: crossing into Cambodia or Laos

PAPA return to top

P: slang for the Vietnamese piaster. One piaster was worth one cent or less.

P-38: a tiny collapsible can opener, also known as a John Wayne.

PAPA: military phonetic for the letter 'P'

papa san: pidgin used by U.S. servicemen for any older Vietnamese man

Papa Sierra: slang for platoon sergeant

Pathet Lao: the Laotian Communists who, from their inception have been under the control of the Vietnamese Communist Party.

PBR: river patrol boat. Navy designation for the fast, heavily armed boats used for safeguarding the major canals and rivers and their tributaries in South Vietnam.

peanuts: wounded in action

perimeter (or greenline): outer limits of a military position. The area beyond the perimeter belongs to the enemy.

PF: Popular Forces. South Vietnamese National Guard-type local military units

PFC: private first class

Phoenix: intelligence-based campaign to eliminate the Viet Cong infrastructure

PIO: public information officer, or a person who works for that office

piss-tube: a vertical tube buried two-thirds in the ground for urinating into

platoon: a subdivision of a company-sized military unit, normally consisting of two or more squads or sections

PMOS: primary MOS (military occupational speciality); the MOS of the job you were trained for.

pogue: derogatory term for military personnel employed in rear echelon support capacities

point: the forward man or element on a combat patrol

poncho liner: nylon insert to the military rain poncho, used as a blanket

pop smoke: to ignite a smoke grenade to signal an aircraft

pos: slang for position, usually meaning a friendly location

post-traumatic stress disorder: development of characteristic symptoms after the experiencing of a psychologically traumatic event or events outside the range of human experience usually considered to be normal. The characteristic symptoms involve reexperiencing the traumatic event, numbing of responsiveness to, or involvement with, the external
world, exaggerated startle response, difficulty in concentrating, memory impairment, guilt feelings, and sleep difficulties.

POW: prisoner of war

PRC-25: Portable Radio Communications, Model 25. A back-packed FM receiver-transmitter used for short-distance communications. The range of the radio was 5-10 kilometers, depending on the weather, unless attached to a special, nonportable antenna which could extend the range to 20-30 kilometers.

PRC-77: a tactical FM radio similar to the PRC-25, but with a cryptographic scrambling / descrambling unit (KY-38 or KY-28) attached. When crypto was attached, teh unit was very heavy. Bothe radios operated in the 30 - 75 MHz range and were interoperable with teh vehicular radio RT-524/VRC (also called AN/VRC-46). Transmission frequencies on the PRC-77 were called the secure net.

PRD: The US Navy term meaning "projected rotation date"; the.Army used DEROS (date of expected return from overseas). The day all American troops in Vietnam were waiting for.

prick 25: PRC-25

profile: a prohibition from certain types of military duty due to injury or disability

Proo: PRU

province chief: governor of a state-sized administrative territory, usually a high ranking military officer province team: American civilian and military advisors assigned duties at the provincial capital

PRU: Province Reconnaissance Unit. Irregular unit organized within each province for the official purpose of reconnoitering guerrilla sanctuaries and collecting intelligence on guerrilla activities. These units were operated under the auspices of the CIA and were also the operating arm of the Phoenix program.

pseudomonas: a genus of bacteria causing various suppurative infections inhumans. It's presence gives pus a blue-green color.

PSP: perforated steel plate

PsyOps: psychological operations

PT: physical training

PTSD: post-traumatic stress disorder

Puff the Magic Dragon (also called "Puff"): a USAF AC-47 propeller-driven aircraft upgunned with a Minigun mounted in the door, capable of firing 6,000 rounds per minute and used to provide ground support fire and flares. Call sign was "Spooky".

pull pitch: term used by helicopter pilots that means they are going to take off

punji stakes: sharpened bamboo sticks used in a primitive but effective pit trap. They were often smeared with excrement to cause infection.

Purple Heart: U.S. military decoration awarded to any member of the Armed Forces wounded by enemy action.

purple out-zone: emergency evacuation

PX: post exchange; military store

PZ: pick up zone

QUEBEC return to top

QUAD-50s: a four-barrelled assembly of .50 caliber machine guns

Quantico: Marine training base in Virginia

QUEBEC: military phonetic for the letter 'Q' (pronounced "kay-beck")

ROMEO return to top

RA: Regular Army, prefix to serial number of enlistees rabbits: white American soldiers, according to black vernacular

rack: bed or cot

rallier: defector from the Viet Cong

R&R: rest and recreation. A three to seven-day vacation from the war for a soldier.

Rangers: elite commandos and infantry specially trained for reconnaissance and combat missions; also, anyone who is a graduate (with tab) of the U.S. Army Ranger School.

RBF: reconnaissance by fire

react: for one unit to come to the aid of another under enemy fire

recon: reconnaissance. Going out into the jungle to observe for the purpose of identifying enemy activity.

Recondo School: a training school in-country for LRRPs. The largest was at Na Trang, where the training action was taken against the 17th NVA Division.

red alert: the most urgent form of warning. Signals an imminent enemy attack.

redball: an enemy high speed trail or road

red bird: a Cobra helicopter

Red Legs: slang for Artillery. In the Civil War, Union Artillery men had red stripes on their pants.

reeducation camps: political prisons and labor camps of varying degrees of severity and size that comprise the Soviet-style gulag system throughout Communist Vietnam

regiment: a military unit usually consisting of a headquarters and headquarters company and two or more battalions

Regional Forces: militia units organized within each district in South Vietnam to engage in offensive operations against local Viet Cong forces. RF units were better paid and equipped than PF units and could be assigned duties anywhere within the home district.

REMF: rear-echelon motherfucker

repo depo: replacement detachment

RF/PF: Regional and Popular Forces, also called Ruff Puff. The South Vietnamese National Guard-type units. Regional Forces were company-size and protected district areas. Popular Forces were platoon-size and guarded their home villages.

RIF: reconnaissance in force. A heavy reconnaissance patrol. Later, RIF came to mean reduction in force, an administrative mechanism for retiring career soldiers prior to the end of their twenty year term.

ringknocker: graduate of a military academy. Refers to the ring worn by graduates.

rock'n'roll: firing a weapon on full automatic

ROK: soldier from the Republic of Korea

ROMEO: military phonetic for the letter 'R'

Rome plow: mammoth bulldozer used to flatten dense jungle or clear 100 meter wide paths through it.

RON: remain-overnight operation

rotate: to return to the U.S. at the end of a year's tour in Vietnam

ROTC: Reserve Officer's Training Corps. Program offered in many high schools and colleges, geared to
prepare students to become military officers.

RPD: a 7.62 mm Communist machine gun with a 100-round, belt operated drum that fires the same round as the AK-47

RPG: a rocket-propelled grenade. A Russian-made portable antitank grenade launcher.

RTO: radio telephone operator. The man who carried his unit's radio on his back in the field.

ruck / rucksack: backpack issued to infantry in Vietnam

Ruff Puff: American slang expression for RF/PF (Vietnamese Regional and Popular Forces).

Rules of Engagement: the specific regulations for the conduct of air and surface battles by U.S. and allied forces during the Vietnam war

rumor control: the most accurate source of information prior to the actual occurrence of an event

SIERRA return to top

S-1: Personnel

S-2: Intelligence

S-3: Operations

S-4: Supply

S-5: Civil Affairs

saddle up: put on one's pack and get ready to march

salvo: firing a battery in unison

sampan: a Vietnamese peasant's boat

SAF: small arms fire

S&S: Supply & Service; designation of a support unit sapper: a Viet Cong or NVA commando, usually armed with explosives

satchel charges: pack used by the enemy containing explosives that is dropped or thrown and is generally more powerful than a grenade

SeaBees: Navy construction engineers

SEAL: highly trained Navy special warfare team members

search and destroy: an operation in which Americans searched an area and destroyed anything which the enemy might find useful

SEATO: Southeast Asia Treaty Organization

seminar camp: the Laotian Communist version of the reeducation camp for political prisoners

Sereika (Khmer Serei): the non-Communist Cambodian resistance force

Sgt. Rock: a combat-scarred World War II comic book character

SERTS: Screaming Eagle Replacement Training School

set: a party

SF: Special Forces

shake'n'bake (or whip 'n chill): sergeant who attended NCO school and earned rank after only a very short time in uniform

shamming: goofing off or getting by with as little effort as possible

shaped charge: an explosive charge, the energy of which is focused in one direction

shit burning: the sanitization of latrines by kerosene incineration of excrement

short: a term used by everyone in Vietnam to tell all who would listen that his tour was almost over

short-timer: soldier nearing the end of his tour in Vietnam

short-timer's stick: when a soldier had approximately two months remaining on his tour in Vietnam, he might take a long stick and notch it for each of his remaining days in-country. As each day passed he would cut the stick off another notch until on his rotation day he was left with only a small stub.

shrapnel: pieces of metal sent flying by an explosion

SIERRA: military phonetic for the letter 'S'

Silver Star: U.S. military decoration awarded for gallantry in action

sit-rep: situation report

six: any Unit Commander, from the Company Commander on up

six-by: a large flat-bed truck usually with wooden slat sides enclosing the bed and sometimes a canvas top covering it. Used for carrying men or anything else that would fit on it.

skate: a task of accomplishment that required little effort or pain

SKS: Simonov 7.62 mm semi-automatic carbine sky: to leave

sky crane: huge double-engine helicopter used for lifting and transporting heavy equipment

sky out: to flee or leave suddenly

slackman: the second man back on a patrol, directly behind the point

slant: derogatory term for a Vietnamese person

slick: a UH-1 helicopter used for transporting troops in tactical air assault operations. The helicopter did not have protruding armaments and was, therefore, "slick".

slope: derogatory term for an Asian person

SMG: submachine gun

smoke grenade: a grenade that released brightly colored smoke. Used for signaling.

Snake: a Cobra helicopter

SOI: Signal Operating Instructions. The booklet that contained all of the call signals and radio frequencies of the units in Vietnam.

SOP: standard operating procedure

Sopwith Camels: slang term for a light, fixed-wing reconnaissance aircraft

soul brother: a black soldier

Spec-4: Specialist 4th Class. An Army rank immediately above Private First Class. Most enlisted men who had completed their individual training and had been on duty for a few months were Spec-4s. Probably the most common rank in the Vietnam-era Army.

Spec-5: Specialist 5th Class. Equivalent to a sergeant, but usually with a specialist rather than formal leadership role.

spider hole: camouflaged enemy foxhole

splib: term originated by black marines to identify other blacks.

Spooky: a USAF AC-47 propeller-driven aircraft with a Minigun mounted in the door. Capable of firing 6,000 rounds per minute.

SP pack: cellophane packet containing toiletries and cigarettes which was sometimes given along with C-rations to soldiers in the field.

squad: a small military unit consisting of less than ten men

SSI: standing signal instructions.

staff sergeant: a E-6, the second lowest noncommissioned officer rank

stand-down: an infantry unit's return from the boonies to the base camp for refitting and training. Later, a unit being withdrawn from Vietnam and redeployed to the U.S.

Starlifter: a C-141, a large troop carrying aircraft with global range.

starlight scope: an image intensifier using reflected light to identify targets at night

steel pot: the standard U.S. Army helmet. The steel pot was the outer metal cover.

strac: smart, sharp, well prepared (from STRategic Air Command)

strategic hamlet program: a controversial pacification and village self-defense program implemented by the Diem government that attempted to turn all sixteen thousand South Vietnamese hamlets into fortified compounds.

strobe: hand held strobe light for marking landing zones at night; we taped the core from a toilet paper role to the strobe to make it directional and not give away our positions so much at night.

syrette: collapsible tube of morphine attached to a hypodermic needle. The contents of the tube were injected by squeezing it like a toothpaste tube.

TANGO return to top

TA-50: individual soldier's standard issue of combat clothing and equipment

TAC: tactical air strikes; fighter bombers

Tail-end Charlie: last unit in a long column on the move

T&T: through and through wound. One in which a bullet or fragment has entered and exited the body.

tanglefoot: single-strand barbed wire strung in a meshwork pattern at about ankle height. A barrier designed to make it difficult to cross the obstructed area by foot. Usually placed around permanent defensive positions.

TANGO: military phonetic for the letter 'T'

Tango boat: U.S. Navy designation for an armored landing craft mounted with 50-caliber machine guns and a 40-caliber anti-aircraft gun used for direct fire.

TC: tactical commander

Tet: Buddhist lunar New Year. Buddha's birthday.

Tet Offensive: a major uprising of the Viet Cong, VC sympathizers and NVA characterized by a series of coordinated attacks against military installations and provincial capitals throughout Vietnam. It occurred during the lunar New Year at the end of January, 1968.

tee-tee: pidgin for very small

TFES: territorial forces evaluation system. The companion report of the HES. A computerized military evaluation system devised by American authorities in Saigon and used by them to assess the readiness of the militia forces. Each month advisors at the district level had to fill out the long computer print-out sheets and report on many different aspects of quantity and quality in the militia forces. Like all computer programs, the quality of this one's output was dependent upon the quality of the input.

thermite: a mixture of powdered aluminum and metal oxide which produces great heat for use in welding and incendiary bombs

Three: radio call signal for the operations officer

three-quarter: a three-quarter ton truck

tiger suits: camouflage fatigue uniforms

tight: good friends are close to ("tight" with) each other

TO: tactical officer

TO&E: Table of Organization and Equipment

TOC: tactical operations center

Top: a top sergeant

TOT: time on target. Prearranged mortar or artillery barrage, set to occur at a specific time in order to coordinate with an infantry assault

trach: a tracheotomy. Making an opening into the windpipe to facilitate breathing.

tracer: a round of ammunition chemically treated to glow
or give off smoke so that its flight can be followed.
tracks: any vehicles which move on tracks rather than wheels

triage: the procedure for deciding the order in which to treat casualties

trip flare: a ground flare triggered by a trip wire used to signal and illuminate the approach of an enemy at night.

Tropic Lighting: the U.S. 25th Infantry Division

turtles: new replacements. They were called turtles because it took so long for them to arrive.

Two: radio call signal of the intelligence officer.

two-niner-two: the RC-292 ground plane antenna which was used to extend the range of the MAT and the district team's PRC-25.

UNIFORM return to top

unbloused: pants not tucked into boot tops

UH-1H: a Huey helicopter

UNIFORM: military phonetic for the letter 'U'

US: prefix to serial number of Army draftees

USAF: United States Air Force

USARV: U.S. Army Republic of Vietnam. Command of operations unit for all U.S. military forces in Vietnam, based in Long Binh.

USO: United Service Organization. Provided entertainment to the troops, and was intended to raise morale.

USOM: U.S. Operations Mission. Funded U.S. programs during the early American involvement in Vietnam.

VICTOR return to top

V: a type of ambush set-up, shaped like the letter.

VA: Veterans Administration

VC: Viet Cong

VCI: Viet Cong infrastructure. It was the aim of the Viet Cong to have a complete government in place when their victory was finally won. Thus, where manpower allowed, Communist cadres were secretly assigned positions as village chiefs, police officers, postment, District-level officers, Province- level officers, and National-level officers. The VCI were the "shadow government" of the National Liberation Front and were awaiting the day they could step forward and claim their offices.

VFW: Veterans of Foreign Wars. An American service organization.

VICTOR: military phonetic for the letter 'V'

Victor Charlie: the Viet Cong; the enemy.

Viet Cong: the Communist-led forces fighting the South Vietnamese government. The political wing was known as the National Liberation Front, and the military was called the People's Liberation Armed Forces. Both the NLF and the PLAF were directed by the People's Revolutionary Party (PRP), the southern branch of the Vietnamese Communist Party, which received direction from Hanoi through COSVN, which was located in III Corps on the Cambodian border. After 1968, as negotiations began in Paris, the NLF established the Provisional Revolutionary Government.

Viet Minh: Viet Nam Doc Lap Dong Minh Hoi, or the Vietnamese Allied Independence League. A political and resistance organization established by Ho Chi Minh before the end of World War II, dominated by the Communist Party. Though at first smaller and less famous than the non-Communist nationalist movements, the Viet Minh siezed power through superior organization skill, ruthless tactics, and popular support.

Vietnamese Popular Forces: South Vietnamese local military forces.

Vietnamization: U.S. policy initiated by President Richard Nixon late in the war to turn over the fighting to the South Vietnamese Army during the phased withdrawal of American troops.

ville: Vietnamese hamlet or village

VNAF: South Vietnamese Air Force

VNQDD: Viet Nam Quoc Dan Dang, or Nationalist Party of Vietnam. A non-Communist movement formed in 1926, based on the doctrines of Sun Yat-sen. The VNQDD conducted the Yen Bai uprising in 1930, which began the modern struggle for Vietnamese independence. During World War II the VNQDD staged in southern China and were instrumental in gaining Ho Chi Minh's release from a Chinese prison to help with the resistance fight against the Japanese. Ho later broke with the VNQDD. By 1950, having lost their bases in southern China when Mao came to power, the VNQDD ceased to exist as an effective organization.

VSI: very seriously ill. Army designation for those troopers who may die without immediate and definitive medical care.

VVA: Vietnam Veterans of America. Veterans organization not affiliated with the Veterans Administration.

VVAW: Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Organization formed by Vietnam veterans who gathered to protest American involvement in Vietnam.

WHISKEY return to top

wake-up: as in "13 and a wake-up" -- the last day of a soldier's Vietnam tour.

walking wounded: wounded who are still able to walk without assistance. Also called "ambulatory".

Walter Wonderful: Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, D.C.

wasted: killed

Water Taxi: small engine-powered boat with a sheltered passenger compartment. These native craft plied the major canals and rivers of Vietnam and provided a means of transportation from one village to the next.

web gear: canvas belt and shoulder straps for packing equipment and ammunition on infantry operations. Also called "load bearing equipment" or "LBE"

weed: marijuana

WHISKEY: military phonetic for the letter 'W'

white bird: a LOH

white mice: South Vietnamese police. The nickname came from their uniform white helmets and gloves.

white phosphorus: a type of explosive round from artillery, mortars, or rockets. Also a type of aerial bomb. The rounds exploded with a huge puff of white smoke from the hotly burning phosphorus, and were used as marking rounds or incendiary rounds. When white phosphorus hit the skin of a living creature it continued to burn until it had burned through the body. Water would not extinguish it.

WIA: wounded in action

widow maker: a MA

Willy Peter: white phosphorus

Wimp: Weak, Incompetent, Maligering Pussy.

wood line: a row of trees at the edge of a field or rice paddy

the World,: the United States

WP: white phosphorus

X-RAY return to top

X: a type of ambush set up, shaped like the letter

xin loi: a Vietnamese idiom meaning "sorry about that"

XO: executive officer; the second in command of a military unit

X-RAY: military phonetic for the letter 'X'

YANKEE return to top

YANKEE: military phonetic for the letter 'Y'

YD: the grid 100,000 meters by 100,000 meters square from the Universal Transmercator (UTM) Grid Zone 48Q. The UTM map of the world dispenses with latitude and longitude in favor of a system of metric coordinates (usually six digits) which enable the user of the map to specify a location within 100 meters.

ZULU return to top

Zippo (or Zippo track). Term used for flame throwers (or flame thrower mounted on M113 chassis).

Zippo raids: military operations which involved burning down Vietnamese villages. Often Zippo cigarette lighters were used to ignite the huts.

zapped: killed

zip: derogatory term for Vietnamese people

ZULU: military phonetic for the letter'Z'

zulu: a casualty report

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