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
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"
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
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
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
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
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
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".
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
DH5: Viet Cong claymore mine
DH10: Viet Cong claymore mine
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
count, "Ain't no use in goin' home / Jody's got your girl and gone / sound
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,
jungle fatigues (or jungle utilities): lightweight tropical fatigues
KILO return to top
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
khong xau: don't worry about it; literally, not bad
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
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
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
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
LSA: small arms lubricant
LST: troop landing ship
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
M-16: the standard U.S. military rifle used in Vietnam from 1966 on. Successor to the
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
napalm: a jellied petroleum substance which burns fiercely, and is used as a weapon
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
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
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
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
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
prick 25: PRC-25
profile: a prohibition from certain types of military duty due to injury or disability
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
SIERRA return to top
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Walter Wonderful: Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, D.C.
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"
WHISKEY: military phonetic for the letter 'W'
white bird: a LOH
white mice: South Vietnamese police. The nickname came from their uniform white helmets
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
Zippo raids: military operations which involved burning down Vietnamese villages. Often
Zippo cigarette lighters were used to ignite the huts.
zip: derogatory term for Vietnamese people
ZULU: military phonetic for the letter'Z'
zulu: a casualty report