Camp Holloway Dispensary
Terms & Slang
from the Vietnam War
- Classification given to those deemed unfit
for military service
- .50 caliber machine gun
- Heavy machine gun used by the enemy
- A M-79 grenade launcher
- 82 mm
- A mortar used by the enemy
- A 105-mm howitzer
- 201 file
- A U.S. Army personnel file
- After-action report
- Aircraft commander
- The unit commander. Used to
distinguish the commander from the radioman when the call sign is
- 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
- Advanced Individual Training
- Specialized training taken after Basic
Training, also referred to as Advanced Infantry Training
- Armed Forced Vietnam Network radio station
- The Central Intelligence Agency
- Above level ground
- Assistant gunner
- Assault helicopter battalion
- Assault helicopter company
- Agency for International Development
- Refers to soldiers who are qualified as
- Air Cav
- Air cavalry; helicopter-borne infantry;
helicopter gunship assault teams
- Helicopter-borne infantry
- Advanced infantry training
- 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.
- Newer version of the AK-47. Some have a
permanently mounted "illegal" triangular bayonet, which leaves a
sucking wound that will not close.
- Military phonetic for the letter 'A'
- Ammo Dump
- Location where live or expended ammunition
- Amphibious armored vehicle used to
transport troops and supplies, armed with a .30-caliber machine gun.
The Marines used them.
- Angel Track
- An armored personnel carrier used as an
- Area of operations
- Administrative officer on duty
- Traditional dress of Vietnamese women. A
brightly colored silk top worn over loose fitting silk trousers.
- Armored personnel carrier. A track vehicle
used to transport Army troops or supplies, usually armed with a
.50-caliber machine gun.
- Barracks ship
- Army post office located in San Francisco
for overseas mail to Vietnam.
- Army regulation
- 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.
- Shorthand term for artillery
- Soldier in the ARVN, or the ARVN itself
- Army of the Republic of Vietnam; the South
Vietnamese Regular Army
- 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.
- Absent without leave; leaving a post or
position without official permission
- A bearing from North
- B-40 rocket
- A shoulder-held rocket-propelled grenade
- U.S. Air Force high-altitude bomber; also,
slang for a can opener
- Married woman; used as a title, like
- Bac Bac
- Bastardized Vietnamese for "to shoot"
- Vietnamese for doctor; also used to refer
to medic in the U.S. Army
- An operation or a contact
Ba Moui Ba
Brand name of a Vietnamese beer
(which means 33) Rumored to have formaldehyde in it
- Belts of machine gun ammunition
- Browning automatic rifle. A .30-caliber
magazine-fed automatic rifle used by U.S. troops during World War II
- 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 training
- Bac si de
- Home-brewed rice whiskey
- An illumination-dropping aircraft mission,
capable of lighting approximately a square mile of terrain
- A military unit composed of a headquarters
and two or more companies, batteries, or similar units
- An artillery unit equivalent to a company.
Six 105mm or 155mm howitzers or two 8-inch or 175mm self-propelled
- 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.
- Bad conduct discharge
- 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.
- Perimeter line of a fortification; usually
raised above surrounding area
- Big Boys
- Artillery; slang for tanks
- Big Max
- Maximum security section of Long Binh
Stockade, fashioned out of conex containers. There was one small
hole in each side for light and air; in the sun they grew quite hot.
Prisoners were allowed out twice a day to use the bathroom and
- Big Red One
- Nickname for the 1st Infantry Division
- Binh Xuyenn
- The organized crime syndicate that
controlled much of the Vietnamese underworld and Saigon police until
deposed by Diem's forces in 1955.
- Any aircraft, but usually refers to
- 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
- The M-79 grenade launcher. A
40-millimeter, shotgunlike weapon that shoots spin-armed "balls" or
small grenades. Also known as a blooper.
- The M-79 grenade launcher. A
40-millimeter, shotgun-like weapon that shoots spin-armed "balls" or
small grenades. Also known as a blooker.
- 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.
- Bastardized French, from beaucoup, meaning
"much" or "many".
- 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
- A combat infantryman
- Infantry term for the field; jungles or
swampy areas far from the comforts of civilization
- A soldier just out of boot camp;
- Bachelor officer quarters; living quarters
- 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.
- Pipe used for smoking dope
- Military phonetic for the letter 'B'
- 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
- A tactical and administrative military
unit composed of a headquarters and one or more battalions of
infantry or armor, with other supporting units.
- A black soldier; also, at times, boonierats from the same unit
- Twin-engine observation aircraft equipped
with rockets and miniguns
- Bronze Star
- U.S. military decoration awarded for
heroic or meritorious service no involving aerial flights
- A fellow black Soldier; 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.
- Bullshit, as in chewing the fat, telling
tall tales, or telling lies
- To fight. "Buckle for your dust" means to
- Bad luck, a real drag
- Infantry term for the field
- Bust caps
- Term for firing a rifle
- Plastic, putty textured
explosive carried by infantry soldiers. It burns like sterno when lit, and was used to heat C-rations in the
- Largest of the American
helicopters, strictly for cargo. Also called Flying
Crane or Skycrane.
- Small cargo airplane; the
- Large propeller-driven Air
Force planes that carry people and cargo; the Hercules
- Large cargo airplane; the Starlifter
- Combat assault. The term is
used to describe dropping troopers into a hot LZ
- Hidden supplies
- World War II term for
- Can Cuoc
- An identification card
- 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
- 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.
- Civil action program. U.S.
military personnel working with Vietnamese civilians.
- Shooting at
- A carbine rifle
- A short-barreled, lightweight
automatic or semiautomatic rifle
- Small transport plane for
moving men and material
- Cavalry; the 1st Cavalry
- Company commander
- Commanding general
- Hello or goodbye, depending
upon the context
- Military phonetic for the
- Viet Cong; the enemy
- Viet Cong; the enemy
- Cheap Charlie
- GI who is frugal with his
money while in a bar
- Slang term for youth and
inexperience; a virgin
- Chinese communist
- Chicom mine
- Chinese mine; can be made of
- 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.
- CH-47 cargo helicopter
- Choi oi
- Exclamation of surprise
- Chop Chop
- Do it fast
- The Viet Cong; the enemy
- Combat infantry badge. And
Army award for being under enemy fire in a combat zone,
worn on both fatigues and dress uniforms.
- South Vietnamese
Civilian Irregular Defense Groups
- Commander in chief of all
American forces in the Pacific region
- Civilian Irregular Defense
- American financed, irregular
South Vietnamese 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.
- A small hand-held firing
device for a claymore mine
- An antipersonnel mine carried
by the infantry which, when detonated, propelled small
steel cubes in a 60-degree fan-shaped pattern to a
maximum distance of 100 meters
- Permission from both military
and political authorities to engage the enemy in a
- Cluster Fuck
- Any attempted operations which
went bad; disorganized
- 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.
- Commanding officer
- An AH-1G attack helicopter.
Also known as a gunship, armed with rockets and machine
- 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
- Topographic maps
- Shorthand for "communications"
- Commo bunker
- Bunker containing vital
communications equipment. Usually included in the last
redoubt of established defensive positions.
- Commo wire
- Communications wire
- A military unit usually
consisting of a headquarters and two or more platoons
- A fortified military
- Concertina wire
- Coiled barbed wire used as an
- Connex container
- Corrugated metal packing
crate, approximately six feet in length
- Firing on or being fired upon
by the enemy
- Continental United States
- Civil operations and
revolutionary development support. Created by civilian
administration, MACV, and the CIA to coordinate American
- Central office of South
Vietnam. Communist headquarters for military and
political action in South Vietnam.
- Anti-guerrilla 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
- Command post
- CP pills
- Anti-malarial pills
- Charge of quarters. An officer
officially in charge of a unit headquarters at night.
- 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
- A riot-control gas which burns
the eyes and mucus membranes
- Unofficial trading, begging,
bartering, or stealing from other branches of the
- Motorized rickshaw
- 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 anti-malarial pill
- Dai uy
- Vietnamese for 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.
- 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.
Disable American Veterans Organization
- Dhe Director of the CIA
- Early term for Vietnamization
- Military phonetic for the letter 'D'
- Date of expected return from overseas. The
day all American soldiers in Vietnam were waiting for.
- Detonating cord used with explosives
- Two-and-a-half ton truck
- Viet Cong claymore mine
- Viet Cong claymore mine
- Derogatory expression referring to both
male genitalia and the enemy
- Walking carelessly
- Slang from the Vietnamese word di, meaning
"to leave" or "to go"
- Didi mau
- Slang Vietnamese for "go quickly"
- Derogatory term for an Asian
- Dinky Dau
- To be crazy
- District team
- American personnel assigned to act as
advisors to Vietnamese military and civilian officials at the
- 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.
- Demilitarized zone. The dividing line
between North and South Vietnam established in 1954 at the Geneva
- Medic or Corpsman
- Unit of North Vietnamese money about equal
to a penny
- 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.
- Displaced person
- A D-shaped metal snap link used to hold
- Dining room orderly
- Reduction in length of tour caused by
overall reduction and withdrawal of American forces from Vietnam.
- Defensive targets
- Dung lai!
- Medical evacuation by helicopter
- Direct exchange. Also, to discard or
dispose of, or to kill someone.
- Eagle flights
- Large air assault of helicopters
- 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.
- 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
- Enlisted man
- Explosive ordinance disposal. A team that
disarms explosive devices.
- Entrenching tool. Folding shovel carried
- Date of departure for overseas duty
station; estimated time of separation from military service.
- Casualties who are expected to die
- Phantom jet fighter-bombers. Range: 1,000
miles. Speed: 1400 mph. Payload: 16,000 lbs. The workhorse of the
tactical air support fleet.
- Forward air controller; a person who
coordinates air strikes
- Fast mover
- An F-4
- Standard combat uniform, green in color
- 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
- A battle, or exchange of small arms fire
with the enemy
- Fire Track
- Flame-thrower tank
- Radio call sign for the executive officer
of a unit
- Flack jacket
- Heavy fiberglass-filled vest worn for
protection from shrapnel
- To be in a state of mental disarray,
characterized by spaciness and various forms of unreasoning fear
- Illumination projectile; hand-fired or
shot from artillery, mortars, or air
- 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.
- Fucking New Guy
- 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
- Military phonetic for the letter 'F'
- Fragmentation grenade; verb form of
- The assassination of an officer by his own
troops, usually be a grenade
- Radio frequency. Also, a junkie or a
- 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
- Radio frequency
- Friendly fire
- Accidental attacks on U.S. or allied
soldiers by other U.S. or allied soldiers
- acronym for "Fucked Up Beyond All
Recognition," used to describe any disorganized operation
- 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.
- Fucked up or screwed up
- 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
- 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
- Free World Military Assistance Forces. The
- Division level tactical advisor; a staff
- The M-1 rifle
- Goldbricking or sandbagging; fucking off
- Government issue. Usually refers to an
- Glad bag
- Slang term for body bag
- Military phonetic for the letter 'G'
- Derogatory term for an Asian; derived from
Korean slang for "person" and passed down by Korean war veterans
- Green Berets
- U.S. Special Forces
- 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
- Map broken into numbered thousand-meter
- infantryman. Originally slang for a Marine
fighting in Vietnam but later applied to any solder fighting there;
- Gunshot wound
- The Gun
- The M-60
- Gung Ho
- Rnthusiastic (usually about military
matters and killing people)
- Armed Helicopter
- Government of South Vietnam
- High-altitude, low-opening jumping for
insertion of troops behind enemy lines. The jump is begun from
- 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
- Hand frag
- A fragmentation grenade thrown by a
- High explosive
- 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.
- A pierced steel plate (PSP) platform over
- Hard-stripe Sergeant
- Rank indicated by chevron insignia,
equivalent to an E5 or E6, but denoting some limited authority as
well. Others of the same rank without the stripes were little more
- A Purple Heart award for a wound; the
- Heat tabs
- Flammable tablet used to heat C-rations.
Always in short supply.
- A C-130
- 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.
- Headquarters and headquarters company
- The honchos; the command or commanders
- Navy hospital Corpsman; a Medic
- 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.
- Vietnamese Communist soldiers and cadre
who rallied to the South Vietnamese government under the Chieu Hoi
- People responsible for burning human
- African American vernacular term for white
- A hut or simple dwelling, either military
or civilian. Also spelled hootch.
- Vietnamese woman employed by American
military as maid or laundress
- A radio; a radio handset
- Radio microphone
- Area under fire
- Military phonetic for the letter 'H'
- Hot LZ
- A landing zone under enemy fire
- A short cannon used to fire shells at
medium velocity and with relatively high trajectories
- Nickname for the UH-1 series helicopters
- March or hike carrying a rucksack; to
perform any arduous task
- I Corps
- The northernmost military region in South
- II Corps
- The Central Highlands military region in
- III Corps
- The densely populated, fertile military
region between Saigon and the Highlands
- IV Corps
- The marshy Mekong Delta southernmost
- Inspector General of the U.S. Army
- 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
- Removable charges attached to mortar fins.
If they become wet, the mortar round misfires and falls short.
- Military phonetic for the letter 'I'
- To be deployed into a tactical area by
- Iron Triangle
- Viet Cong dominated area between the
Thi-Tinh and Saigon rivers, next to Cu Chi district
- Judge advocate general, the legal
department of the Armed Services
- Jet Jockey
- Air Force fighter pilot
- The person who wins your lover or spouse
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 /
- John Wayne
- Can opener. Also used as a verb to
describe the actions of someone who exposes himself to danger. For
an example of what some GIs though of John Wayne, see Robert Flynn's
Wayne Must Die."
- 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
- Jungle utilities
- Lightweight tropical fatigues
- Killed by artillery
- Combat knife
- Kit Carson scout
- 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
- Military phonetic for the letter 'K'
- Kit Carson scout
- Former Viet Cong who act as guides for
U.S. military units
- Khong xau
- Vietnamese slang for "don't worry about
it," literally, "not bad"
- Killed in action
- Kitchen Police; mess hall duty
- 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.
- A type of ambush set-up, shaped like the
- A night defensive perimeter
- Lao Dong
- The Vietnamese Workers Party
- 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
- Long Binh Stockade, a military stockade on
Long Binh post
- A mechanized landing craft used in harbors
and inland waterways
- Slightly contemptuous term used by
airborne-qualified troops when they are talking about regular
- Infantry unit
- Lien Doi
- Company group. A Vietnamese military unit
consisting of three militia infantry companies
- Career military man. The term is often
used in a derogatory manner.
- Military phonetic for the letter 'L'
- Land line. Refers to telephone
communications between two points on the ground.
- Stretchers to carry dead and wounded
- Little people
- The enemy
- Fired upon; shot and killed or wounded
- Luc Luong Dac Biet. The South Vietnamese
- 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
- A LOH
- Log Bird
- Logistical (resupply) helicopter
- 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.
- Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol. An elite
team usually composed of five to seven men who go deep into the
jungle to observe enemy activity without initiating contact.
- Small arms lubricant
- Troop landing ship
- Members of Long Range Reconnaissance
- Landing zone. Usually a small clearing
secured temporarily for the landing of resupply helicopters. Some
become more permanent and eventually become base camps.
- World War II vintage American rifle
- Wood stock rifle used in early portion of
- The standard U.S. military rifle used in
Vietnam from 1966 on. Successor to the M-14.
- The standard lightweight machine gun used
by U.S. forces in Vietnam. Also mounted on the each side of a
- A U.S. military hand-held grenade launcher
- Mechanical ambush. Euphemism for an
American set booby trap.
- 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
- Mad Minute
- A weapons free-fire practice and test
- 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
- Military Affiliate Radio Station. Used by
soldiers to call home via Signal Corps and ham radio equipment.
- Mass casualty
- Mobile Army Surgical Hospital
- Mobile Advisory Team. Five-man teams of
American advisors who were assigned to live and work in the
- 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.
- Mechanized Platoon
- A platoon operating with tanks and/or
armored personnel carriers
- Med Cap
- Medical Civil Action Program in which U.S.
medical personnel would go into the villages to minister to the
- Medical evacuation from the field by
- Large insulated foot containers
- Multiple Frag Wounds
- Machine Gun
- Missing In Action
- Mighty Mite
- Commercial air-blower used for injecting
gas into tunnels
- Military phonetic for the letter 'M'
- Shorthand for millimeter
- Million-dollar wound
- A non-crippling wound serious enough to
warrant return to the U.S.
- 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
- A Vietnamese term for several tribes of
mountain people inhabiting the hills and mountains of central and
- A Vietnamese mistress
- A muzzle-loading cannon with a short tube
in relation to its caliber that throws projectiles with low muzzle
velocity at high angles.
- Military Occupational Specialty
- Most ricky-tick
- Immediately, if not sooner
- Military Police
- Military payment currency. The scrip U.S.
soldiers were paid in.
- MR IV
- Viet Cong military region surrounding and
- Small, motorized platform originally
designed to carry a 106-millimeter recoilless rifle, but most often
used for transporting supplies and personnel.
- A jellied petroleum substance which burns
fiercely, and is used as a weapon against personnel.
- Noncommissioned officer. Usually a squad
leader or platoon sergeant.
- Night defensive position
- Radio frequency setting, from "network."
- New Socialist Man
- Orwellian concept adopted by the
Communists. The ideal collectivized citizen.
- The man who said he was the next to
- The number five
- National Liberation Front
- No sweat
- Easy, simple
- Night perimeter defense
- Number one
- The best
- Number ten
- The worst
- Number ten thousand
- A description of how bad things can be
- Tribespeople of Chinese origin, from the
highlands of North Vietnam. Some who moved South worked with the
U.S. Special Forces.
- Fermented fish sauce used by the
Vietnamese as a condiment
- North Vietnamese Army
- Officer candidate school
- Olive drab, a camouflage color
- 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).
- Military phonetic for the letter 'O'
- Office of Strategic Services
- Over the fence
- Crossing into Cambodia or Laos
- Slang for the Vietnamese piaster. One
piaster was worth one cent or less.
- A tiny collapsible can opener, also known
as a "john wayne"
- 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
- 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.
- Wounded In Action
- Outer limits of a military position. The
area beyond the perimeter belongs to the enemy.
- Popular Forces. South Vietnamese National
Guard-type local military units
- Private First Class
- Intelligence-based campaign to eliminate
the Viet Cong infrastructure
- Public Information Officer, or a person
who works for that office
- A vertical tube buried two-thirds in the
ground for urinating into
- A subdivision of a company-sized military
unit, normally consisting of two or more squads or sections
- Derogatory term for military personnel
employed in rear echelon support capacities, usually used by Marines
- The forward man or element on a combat
- Poncho liner
- Nylon insert to the military rain poncho,
used as a blanket
- Pop smoke
- To ignite a smoke grenade to signal an
- Slang for Position, usually meaning a
- 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
- Prisoner Of War
- 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.
- A radio similar to the PRC-25, but with a
cryptographic scrambling / descrambling unit attached. Very heavy.
Transmission frequencies on the PRC-77 were called the secure net.
- Prick 25
- PRC-25 radio
- A prohibition from certain types of
military duty due to injury or disability
- Province Chief
- Governor of a state-sized executive arm of
the provincial government
- A four-barrelled assembly of .50 caliber
- Marine training base in Virginia
- Military phonetic for the letter 'Q'
- Regular Army, prefix to serial number of
- White American soldiers, according to
- Bed or cot
- Defector from the Viet Cong
- Rest and Recreation. A three to seven-day
vacation from the war for a soldier.
- Elite commandos and infantry specially
trained for reconnaissance and combat missions
- Reconnaissance By Fire
- For one unit to come to the aid of another
under enemy fire
- 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.
- 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 comprised the Soviet-style
gulag system throughout Communist Vietnam
- A military unit usually consisting of a
number of 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
- Rear-Echelon motherFucker
- Repo depo
- replacement detachment
- Regional and Popular Forces. 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.
- Rice paddy racers
- Rubber shower shoes used by GIs
- 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.
- Graduate of a Military Academy. Refers to
the rank worn by graduates.
- Firing a weapon on full automatic
- Soldier from the Republic of Korea
- Military phonetic for the letter 'R'
- Rome plow
- Mammoth bulldozer used to flatten dense
- Remain-overnight operation
- To return to the U.S. at the end of a
year's tour in Vietnam
- Reserve Officer's Training Corps. Program
offered in many high schools and colleges, geared to prepare
students to become military officers.
- A 7.62 mm Communist machine gun with a
100-round, belt operated drum that fires the same round as the AK-47
- A Rocket-Propelled Grenade. A Russian-made
portable antitank grenade launcher.
- Radio Telephone Operator. The man who
carried his unit's radio on his back in the field.
- Backpack issued to infantry in Vietnam
- Ruff Puff
- Derogatory term used by Americans for RF/PF
- Rules of Engagement
- The specific regulations for the conduct
of air and surface battles by U.S. and allied forces during the
- Rumor control
- The most accurate source of information
prior to the actual occurrence of an event
- Civil Affairs
- Saddle up
- Put on one's pack and get ready to march
- Firing a battery in unison
- A Vietnamese peasant's boat
- Small Arms Fire
- Supply & Service; designation of a support
- A Viet Cong or NVA commando, usually armed
- Satchel charges
- Pack used by the enemy containing
explosives that is dropped or thrown and is generally more powerful
than a grenade
- Navy construction engineers
- highly trained Navy special warfare team
members. Naval Special Warfare community
- Search and Destroy
- An operation in which Americans searched
an area and destroyed anything which the enemy might find useful
- 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
- Sgt. Rock
- A combat-scarred World War II comic book
- Screaming Eagle Replacement Training
- A party
- Special Forces
- Sergeant who attended NCO school and
earned rank after only a very short time in uniform
- 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
- A term used by everyone in Vietnam to tell
all who would listen that his tour was almost over
- Soldier nearing the end of his tour in
- 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.
- Pieces of metal sent flying by an
- Military phonetic for the letter 'S'
- Silver Star
- U.S. military decoration awarded for
gallantry in action
- Situation report
- Any Unit Commander, from the Company
Commander on up or Back-Side
- 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.
- A task that required little effort or
pain; verb form means to take it easy
- Simonov 7.62 mm semi-automatic carbine
- To leave
- Sky Crane
- Huge double-engine helicopter used for
lifting and transporting heavy equipment
- Sky out
- To flee or leave suddenly
- The second man back on a patrol, directly
behind the point
- Derogatory term for a Vietnamese person
- A UH-1 helicopter used for transporting
troops in tactical air assault operations. The helicopter did not
have protruding armaments and was, therefore, "slick".
- Derogatory term for an Asian person
- SubMachine Gun
- Smoke grenade
- A grenade that released brightly colored
smoke. Used for signaling.
- A Cobra helicopter
- Signal Operating Instructions. The booklet
that contained all of the call signals and radio frequencies of the
units in Vietnam.
- Solacium Payment
- Standard amount paid by the U.S.
government to Vietnamese civilians when U.S. forces were deemed
responsible for a wrongful civilian death. For a detailed discussion
of a Solacium payment see Jim Lynch's artice, "Solacium
- Standard Operating Procedure
- Sopwith Camels
- Slang term for a light, fixed-wing
- Soul Brother
- A black soldier
- 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
- Specialist 5th Class. Equivalent to a
- Spider hole
- Camouflaged enemy foxhole
- Term originated by black marines to
identify other black soldiers. Supposedly meant to imply superior
- A large propeller-driven aircraft with a Minigun mounted in the door. Capable of firing 6,000 rounds per
minute. Also used to refer to gunship helicopters with Miniguns.
- SP pack
- Cellophane packet containing toiletries
and cigarettes which was sometimes given along with C-rations to
soldiers in the field.
- A small military unit consisting of less
than ten men
- Staff Sergeant
- A E-6, the second lowest noncommissioned
- 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.
- A C-141, the largest military cargo
transport airplane in the Air Force inventory
- 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.
- 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
- Hand-held strobe light for marking landing
zones at night
- Collapsible tube of morphine attached to a
hypodermic needle. The contents of the tube were injected by
squeezing it like a toothpaste tube.
- Individual soldier's standard issue of
combat clothing and equipment
- Tactical air strikes; fighter bombers
- Tail-end Charlie
- Last unit in a long column on the move
- Through And Through wound. One in which a
bullet or fragment has entered and exited the body.
- 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.
- 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.
- Tactical Commander
- January holiday, Buddhist lunar New Year.
- Tet Offensive
- A major uprising of the National
Liberation Front, their 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.
- Pidgin for very small
- 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.
- A mixture of powdered aluminum and metal
oxide which produces great heat for use in welding and incendiary
- Radio call signal for the operations
- A three-quarter ton truck
- Tiger Suits
- Camouflage fatigue uniforms
- Good friends are close to ("tight" with)
- Tactical Officer
- Table of Organization and Equipment
- Tactical operations center
- A top Sergeant
- Time on target. Prearranged mortar or
artillery barrage, set to occur at a specific time in order to
coordinate with an infantry assault
- A tracheotomy. Making an opening into the
windpipe to facilitate breathing.
- A round of ammunition chemically treated
to glow or give off smoke so that its flight can be followed.
- Any vehicles which move on tracks rather
- 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
- New replacements. They were called turtles
because it took so long for them to arrive.
- Radio call signal of the Intelligence
- The RC-292 ground plane antenna which was
used to extend the range of the MAT and the district team's PRC-25.
- Pants not tucked into boot tops
- A Huey helicopter - Bell UH-1 Iroquois
- Military phonetic for the letter 'U'
- Prefix to serial number of Army draftees
- United States Air Force
- U.S. Army Republic of Vietnam. Command of
operations unit for all U.S. military forces in Vietnam, based in
- United Service Organization. Provided
entertainment to the troops, and was intended to raise morale.
- U.S. Operations Mission. Funded U.S.
programs during the early American involvement in Vietnam.
- A type of ambush set-up, shaped like the
- Veterans Administration
- Viet Cong, the National Liberation Front
- 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.
- Veterans of Foreign Wars. An American
- 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.
- 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. The
term was coined by Nixon's Secretary of Defense, Melvin Laird to
replace the policy of "de-Americanization" first enunciated by Nixon
on June 8, 1969.
- Vietnamese hamlet or village
- South Vietnamese Air Force
- 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.
- Very seriously ill. Army designation for
those troopers who may die without immediate and definitive medical
- Vietnam Veterans of America. Veterans
organization not affiliated with the Veterans Administration.
- Vietnam Veterans Against the War.
Organization formed by Vietnam veterans who gathered to protest
American involvement in Vietnam.
- 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
- Walter Wonderful
- Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington,
- 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.
- Military phonetic for the letter 'W'
- White bird
- A LOH
- White mice
- Derogatory name for South Vietnamese
police. The nickname came from their uniform white helmets and
- 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.
- Wounded In Action
- Widow Maker
- A MA
- Willy Peter
- White Phosphorus
- Wood line
- A row of trees at the edge of a field or
- World, the
- The United States
- White Phosphorus
- A type of ambush set up, shaped like the
- Xin Loi
- A Vietnamese idiom meaning "sorry about
- Executive Officer; the second in command
of a military unit
- Military phonetic for the letter 'X'
- Military phonetic for the letter 'Y'
- 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.
- Derogatory term used to describe
- Zippo raids
- Military operations which involved burning
down Vietnamese villages. Often Zippo cigarette lighters were used
to ignite the huts.
- Derogatory term for Vietnamese people
- Military phonetic for the letter 'Z'
- A casualty report