Vietnam Veteran's Terminology and Slang

NOTE: The source for some of the following definitions (those listed along with a page number: Pg. #) is the "Dictionary of the Vietnam War;" edited by James S. Olson; published by Greenwood Press, Inc.; New York, 1988.

Contributions are also welcomed from our viewers. Please send to: Deanna Gail Shlee Hopkins at

The "VVHP" wishes to thank many of our viewers who have already contributed terms and definitions from their experiences in this era. This list is dynamic and will grow as the material in the Home Page grows.

An appendix of Artillery Terms and Tactics has been provided by Mike Hopkins, Artillery (Arty), 1st (Big Red One - BRO) and 9th Infantries, Nam '69-'70.

Nicholas Del Cioppo, USMC, sent us his collection of the Dictionary of Marine Corps Terms and Words Used in Vietnam linked from this title.

This section was revised on 22 March, 2000, by DGSH

A1E: propeller-driven bomber.

AAA: antiaircraft artillery. Pg. 503

AC: aircraft commander.

ACAV: armored cavalry assault vehicle. Pg. 503

AC of S:

Assistant Chief of Staff. In the MACV military headquarters, there was a AC of S position for each section, i.e.: AC of S J2 (Intell), AC of S J3 (Operations).


the final meal at Ton Son Nhut Air Force Base prior to boarding the Big bird for the flight back to the land of the big PX.

AF: Air Force.

AFB: Air Force base.

AFT: from AFTer...directional--in, at, toward, or close to the back

or stern of a vessel or tail of an airplane.

AHC: assault helicopter company. (Hueys and gunships)

AID: Agency for International Development. Pg. 503


refers to all elements relating to functions of maritime navigation such as buoys, range markers, wreck markers, lights and lighthouses, including maintenance.

AIRBORNE: (Abn) paratrooper or parachutist-qualified. Pg. 503

AIRBURST: explosion of a munition in the air.

AIRMOBILE: people or material delivered by helicopter. Pg. 503

AIR CAV: air cavalry, referring to helicopter-borne infantry. Pg. 503

AIT: Advanced Individual Training, the period following Basic Training,

specialized training given each soldier based on his MOS (Military
Occupational Specialty), ie MOS 11B10, 11B20 received Infantry
training, 13E20 received artillery training.

AK-47: (also AK or Kalishnikov) rifle. Pgs. 503 & 513

The AK-47 was the basic infantry weapon of the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) and the Vietcong (VC). Originally manufactured by the Soviet Union, most the these "Assault rifles" used in the war were made in the People's Republic of China, which was the major supplier of armaments to NVA and VC forces.

Also known as the Kalishnikov, after its Russian inventor, this weapon was sturdy, reliable, compact, and relatively lightweight. It fired a 7.62mm bullet in a fully automatic mode (continuous firing, like a machine gun, as long as the trigger was squeezed). The high muzzle velocity (speed of the bullet after firing) and the tumbling action of the bullet contributed to its effectiveness. The combination of these effects plus its rapid-fire capability meant that accuracy was not a major requirement, thus reducing the training time before a soldier could be sent into combat.

Most armaments analysts judge the AK-47, which normally holds thirty bullets, to be superior to the U.S. M-16, which became the standard weapon of American, Korean, and South Vietnamese troops. It was more durable and less adversely affected by the climate and conditions of Vietnam. There are a number of accounts of cases in which American troops preferred to use the AK-47 and in fact did use it when combat conditions permitted. Pgs. 16 & 17. An inherent risk, however, to U.S. troops using the 'AK,' was that its distinctive "popping" sound might cause the firer to be mistaken for the enemy.

A LAUGH A MINUTE: similar to the Naval Aviators "Walk in the Park," but it meant going up a river.

ALCE - Airlift Control Element - A regional Tactical Airlift Command Post Sand Box "ALCE" - The "ALCE" at Cam Ranh Bay Rocket Alley "ALCE" - The "ALCE" at Bien Hoa.

ALL AMERICAN: in 1970, what D, 2/8 Cav was calling the automatic ambush.

ALPHA-ALPHA: Automatic Ambush, a combination of claymore mines configured to detonate simultaneously when triggered by a trip-wire/battery mechanism.


N -- November
Q -- Quebec
U -- Uniform
Z -- Zulu

ALPHA BOAT - Assault Support Patrol Boat (ASPB). A light, fast

shallow draft boat designed specifically to provide close support to
riverine infantry. Armament consisted of machine guns (M-60 and .50 cal.),
plus whatever the boat crew could scrounge. M-79s and LAWs were common.

ALPHA BRAVO: slang expression for ambush, taken from the initials AB. Pg. 503

AMERICAL: 23rd Infantry Division. Pg. 503

AMF: literally, "Adios, Mother Fucker."

AMMO: ammunition

AMNESTY BOX: a bright blue box made of solid steel shaped like a free-standing US Postal box but about half again as high, twice as deep, and maybe four times as wide. It stood in the Rhein Main airbase in front of the customs line so you could dump any contraband (drugs, weapons, porno mags, whatever) no questions asked, before going through customs.

ANZAC: Australian and New Zealand Armed Corps Memorial Day on April 25th, commemorating the devastating losses which Australian and New Zealand forces suffered at Gallipoli in 1915.

A-O: area of operations. Pg. 504

AO DAI: traditional slit skirt and trousers worn by Vietnamese women.

APC: an armored personnel carrier.

AP ROUND: armor piercing round.

ARA: aerial rocket artillery.


code name for the devastating aerial raids of B-52 Stratofortresses against enemy positions in Southeast Asia, the first B-52 Arc Light raid took place on June 18, 1965, on a suspected Vietcong base north of Saigon. In November 1965, B-52s directly supported American ground forces for the first time, and were used regularly for that purpose thereafter. Pg. 23

ARCOMS: Army Commendation Medals

ARTICLE 15: summary disciplinary judgement of a soldier by his commander, may result in fines or confinement in the stockade.

ARTY: artillery.

ARVN: Army of the Republic of Vietnam (Army of South Vietnam). Pg. 504

ASAP: (A-sap) as soon as possible; a request for extreme urgency in a military assignment. Pg. 504


helicopter term similiar to "Pigs & Rice." Taking on mission flights that are considered non-combative (don't mean you aren't going to get shot at) and generally assigned to an area and taking men from field to rear base camp, taking hot food out to the field, evacuating men, etc.

The term was perverted to "Ass and Trash" by many in-country aircrews to differentiate between hauling people and supplies.


the A Shau Valley is located in Thua Thien Province of I Corps near the Laotian border. Actually several valleys and mountains, the A Shau Valley was one of the principal entry points to South Vietnam of the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

It was an area that was critical to the North Vietnamese since it was the conduit for supplies, additional troops, and communications for units of the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) and Vietcong (VC) operating in I Corps. Because of its importance to the NVA and VC, it was the target of repeated major operations by allied forces, especially the U.S. 101st Airborne Division. Likewise, it was defended vigorously by the NVA and VC.

Consequently, the A Shau Valley was the scene of much fighting throughout the war, and it acquired a fearsome reputation for soldiers on both sides. Being a Veteran of A Shau Valley operations became a mark of distinction among combat Veterans.

The most famous battle of the A Shau Valley was Operation Apache Snow, also known as Hamburger Hill. Pgs. 29 & 30

ASHC: assault support helicopter company.

A TEAMS: 12-man Green Beret units. Pg. 504

ATFV OR ATFG: Australian Task Force, Vietnam. Pg. 504

AWOL: absent without official leave. Far more serious and harder to prove, than "UA:" unauthorized absence.

B-40 ROCKET: a shoulder-held RPG launcher. Pg. 505


the B-52 is regarded by experts as the most successful military aircraft ever produced. It began entering service in the mid-1950s and by 1959 had replaced the awesome but obsolete B-36 as the backbone of Strategic Air Command's (SAC) heavy bomber force. Its primary mission was nuclear deterrence through retaliation.

The B-52 has been amazingly adaptable. It was initially designed to achieve very high-altitude penetration of enemy airspace. But when that concept was rendered obsolete by the development of accurate surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), the B-52 was redesigned and reconstructed for low-altitude penetration. It has undergone eight major design changes since first flown in 1952, from B-52A to B-52H.

When the Vietnam situation began to deteriorate in 1964, Key SAC commanders began pressing for SAC to get involved in any U.S. action in Vietnam. But the first problem was one of mission. How could a heavy strategic bomber designed to carry nuclear bombs be used in Vietnam? The answer was to modify the B-52 again.

Two B-52 units, the 320th Bomb Wing and the 2nd Bomb Wing, had their aircraft modified to carry "iron bombs," conventional high explosive bombs. After a second modification, each B-52 used in Vietnam could carry eighty-four 500-pound bombs internally and twenty-four 750-pound bombs on underwing racks, for a 3,000-mile nonstop range. The two bomb wings were deployed to operate from Guam as the 133rd Provisional Wing. Later, additional units were deployed to Thailand and Okinawa to reduce in-flight time, and thus warning time.

The first B-52 raids against a target in South Vietnam (and the first war action for the B-52) took place on June 18, 1965. The target was a Vietcong jungle sanctuary. The results were not encouraging. Two B-52s collided in flight to the target and were lost in the Pacific Ocean. The results of the bombing could not be evaluated because the area was controlled by the Vietcong.

Although the press criticized the use of B-52s, ground commanders were much impressed with the potential of the B-52. Previous attempts to use tactical bombers and fighter-bombers to disrupt enemy troop concentrations and supply depots had not been successful. But the B-52 was a veritable flying boxcar, and the effect of a squadron-size attack was to create a virtual Armageddon on the ground.

Ironically, the most effective use of the B-52 in Vietnam was for tactical support of ground troops. B-52s were called in to disrupt enemy troop concentrations and supply areas with devastating effect. From June 1965 until August 1973, when operations ceased, B-52s flew 124,532 sorties which successfully dropped their bomb loads on target. Thirty-one B-52s were lost: eighteen shot down by the enemy, and thirteen lost to operational problems. Pgs. 33 & 34

BAC SI: Vietnamese term for Medical Corpsman/Doctor.

BA-MA-BA: term for "33" Vietnamese beer ("Tiger Piss").

More properly: BA-MOI-BA (Vietnamese for "33"). Ba Moi being 30 and Ba being three. Moi counts 10s.


mot=1 sal=6
hai=2 bai=7
ba=3 tam=8
bon=4 chin=9
nam=5 moui=10

e.g.: hai moui tram dong = 2000 dong (piastres; money).

BIERE LaRUE: Tiger beer (1 liter).

BAHT: Thai unit of currency.

BANANA CLIP: banana shaped magazine, standard on the AK-47 assault rifle.

BAR: Browning Automatic Rifle, .30 cal, heavy, shoulder fired weapon, used in WWII and Korea. The M-14 sought to combine the firepower BAR with portablilty of the M-1. The M-60 machinegun replaced both the BAR and the Browning light machinegun.

BASE CAMP: a semipermanent field headquarters and center for a given unit usually within that unit's tactical areas responsibility. A unit may operate in or away from its base camp. Base camps usually contain all or part of a given unit's support elements. Pg. 504

BATTALION: (Bn) a battalion is an organizational institution in the Army and Marine Corps. Commanded by a lieutenant colonel, an infantry battalion usually has around 900 people and an artillery battalion about 500 people. During the Vietnam War, American battalions were usually much smaller than that. Pg. 37

BEEHIVE: a direct-fire artillery round which incorporated steel darts (fleshettes), used as a primary base defense munition against ground attack.

BERM, BERM LINE: hedgerow or foliated built-up area which divided rice paddies; also, a rise in the ground such as dikes or a dirt parapet around fortifications. Pg. 504

BIC (biet): Vietnamese term for "understand".

BIERE LaRUE: Tiger beer (1 liter).


nickname for the 1st Infantry Division, based on the red numeral "1" on the division shoulder patch. "If your gonna be one, be a Big Red One!!"

Also known as the "Bloody One," "Bloody Red One," or "Big Dead One." Pg. 505. See the Ist Div. shoulder patch. (Use your browser's "Back" feature to return here.)

BIG SHOTGUN: a 106mm recoilless rifle using antipersonnel canister ammunition. Pg. 505

BINGO: Air Force term for the point in a flight in which there's only enough fuel remaining to return to base.

BINJO MARU: name given to the White River.

BIPOD: two-legged, supportive stand on the front of many weapons.

BIRD: any aircraft, usually helicopters. Pg. 505

BIRD DOG: O-1 Aircraft.

BLADDER: a heavy-duty, rubberized collapsible petroleum drum ranging from 2,000 to 50,000 gallons. Pg. 505

BLADDER BAG: collapsible canteen.

BLIVET: a heavy rubber bladder in which fuel was transported in an aircraft.

BLUELEG: infantryman, aka "grunt".

BLUE LINE: a river on a map.

BOAT PEOPLE: refugees fleeing Vietnam by boat after 1975. Pg. 505

BOATSWAIN: an enlisted rating, running from boatswain's striker (E-2) thru Master Chief and then into Warrant Officers. A Navy and Coast Guard rating for deck crew.

Also, personnel, generally specified as specializing in water transportation and all affiliated chores pertaining to operation and maintenance of deck equipment such as lines, paint, etc., which reflect the general "health" of the ship. The Boatswain also carried a "pipe" or whistle used to make shipboard announcements, often just a series of notes (a melody) not even accompanied by words of instruction. The tune itself was the announcement.

BOATSWAIN'S MATE 1st CLASS: usually the "deck apes" and small box coxswains. The Aviation Boatswain's Mates were usually the guys who took care of towing the birds around the ramp area or flight decks and who made sure they were secured to the 'ground' when the weather went to pot.

BO DOI: a uniformed NVA soldier. Pg. 505

BODY BAGS: plastic bags used for retrieval of bodies on the battlefield. Pg. 505

BOHICA: short for "Bend Over, Here It Comes Again." Usually describing another undesirable assignment.

BOK-BOK: fight/fighting.

BOOBY TRAP: an explosive charge hidden in a harmless object which explodes on contact. Pg. 505

BOOKOO: (beaucoup) Vietnamese/French term for "many," or "lots of..."

BOOM BOOM: "short time" with a prostitute, typically cost $3-$5.

BOONDOCKS, BOONIES, BRUSH, BUSH: expressions for the jungle, or any remote area away from a base camp or city; sometimes used to refer to any area in Vietnam. Pg. 505

BOQ: bachelor officer's quarters.

BOU: a C-7A Caribou aircraft.

BOUNCING BETTY: explosive that propells upward about four feet into the air and then detonates.

BOW: front of the ship or boat.

BREAK SQUELCH: to send a "click-hiss" signal on a radio by depressing the push-to-talk button without speaking, used by LLRPs and others when actually speaking into the microphone might reveal your position.

BRIGADE: the term "brigade" is a basic military organizational institution.

During the Vietnam War, a division was organized into three brigades, with each brigade commanded by a colonel. A division consists of approximately 20,000 people.

There were also separate infantry brigades functioning in the Vietnam War. The 11th, 196th, and 198th Infantry Brigades fought in the war until 1967, when they were brought together to reconstitute the Americal Division, or the 23rd Infantry. The 199th Infantry Brigade and the 173rd Airborne Brigade continued to fight as independent entities. A number of combat support brigades, designed to provide supplies, medical care, and maintenance, also functioned in South Vietnam during the 1960s and 1970s. Pg. 50

BRING SMOKE: to direct intense artillery fire or air force ordnance on an enemy position. Pg. 505

BRONCO: OV-10 Aircraft

BUF: a B-52 aircraft (mnemonic for Big Ugly Fucker).

BUFF: slang for B-52 (esp. D model). Stands for big ugly fat f***er.

BuSHIPS: Bureau of Ships; Washington, D.C.; in charge of monitoring all Naval vessel activities, especially in regards to civilian contracts.

BUSHMAASTERS: any elite unit skilled in jungle operations. Pg. 505

BUS TRANSFERS: standard tongue-in-cheek expression. Use your metro bus transfers to change buses at a transfer point. Meant humorously, as troops did not have their "bus passes" with them at the time.

BUTTER BAR: 2nd Lieutenant, based on the insignia - a single gold bar.

BVR: Beyond Visual Range. (Air Force).

BX: base exchange.

C-4: a very stable plastic explosive carried by infantry soldiers. Pg. 505

"C-4" was a plastic explosive popular among soldiers in Vietnam because of its various properties. It was easy to carry because of its lightweight, stable nature, and had a potent explosive power. Malleable with a texture similar to play dough, it could be formed into a shaped charge of infinite configuration. The availability of "C-4" reduced the necessity of carrying a variety of explosive charges.

"C-4" would not explode without use of detonation devices, even when dropped, beaten, shot or burned. It was not destabilized by water, an important consideration given the Vietnam climate. Because it could be safely burned, "C-4" was popular with GIs, who would break off a small piece of it for heating water or C-rations. Sometimes they used it in foxholes to warm hands and feet on chilly nights.

"C-4" replaced sterno as the heating fuel of choice. Soldiers in the field could obtain "C-4" on a resupply mission whereas sterno required a trip to the PX which, of course, was not necessarily possible. Pg. 57

CACA DAU: Vietnamese Phrase for "I'll kill you."

CAL: caliber

CAMMIES: camouflage uniforms. Some Coastguardsmen wore any of the various types and styles used in Vietnam.

CAR: rifle, predecessor to the M-16, the Carbine, CAR-15.

CARRONADE: We were with Inshore Fire Support Division 93; my ship, Flagship, was the U.S.S. Carronade (IFS-1). She was built for the Korean War, decommissioned and recommissioned for Vietnam. I sailed with her as a plankowner in 1965 through 1968. She was built from the keel up as a rocket firing ship. The LSMRs were old LSMs (Landing Ship Medium ) that later received the "R" designation (Rocket).

The U.S.S. Carronade had 8, mk5 Rocket Launchers and could launch them with pinpoint accuracy ... 5,000 in just a few moments!; one, 5'38, duel-purpose gun; and two, twin, forty-milimeter, "Pom Pom" guns. Also, lots of 50 and 30 caliber machine guns.

CAS: Close Air Support, missions flown in support of infantry forces in contact with NVA or VC hostiles.

CAV: nickname for air cavalry. Pg. 506. also refered to armored cavalry using M113 APCs, and other light armored vehicles.

C & C: command and control.

CCB: Command & Control Boat. A converted landing craft of the Monitor class of riverine boats, packed with radios, designed for forward command and communications. Traveling with the flotilla of boats and landing craft of a typical riverine operation, it was used for relaying communications between the commanders in the field and the Army's Tactical Operations Center and Fire Support groups. By using larger antennas than would be practical in the filed, communications range could be extended to 10 to 15 miles.

CCN (CCC,CCS): Command and Control, North. The poor SOB's who ran the ops north, instead of west, etc. There was also CCC (central) and CCS (south).

CENTRAL HIGHLANDS: The Central Highlands, a plateau area at the southern edge of the Truong Son Mountains, was a strategically important region of South Vietnam throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Nearly one million people, primarily Montagnard tribesmen, lived in the 20,000 square miles of the Central Highlands in 1968. The region was economically known for its production of coffee, tea, and vegetables. Pg. 67

CG: Coast Guard.

CG: commanding general.

CHARGE: an amount of explosive, powder, etc required to perform a task.

CHARLIE, CHARLES, CHUCK: Vietcong--short for the phonetic representation Victor Charlie. Pg. 506

CHECK IT OUT: a slang as ubiquitous as "okay" during the late sixties, meaning to have a close look at something or someone. The saying was prominently featured in Andrew Lloyd Webber's MISS SAIGON.

CHERRY: a new troop replacement. Pg. 506

CHICKEN PLATE: chest protector (body armor) worn by helicopter gunners.

CHICOM: (Cheye-com); a term describing a Chinese Communist or weapons manufactured in China. Pg. 506

CHIEU HOI: (Choo Hoy); "Open arms." Program under which GVN offered amnesty to VC defectors. Pg. 506

CHINOOK: the CH-47 cargo helicopter; also called "Shithook" or "Hook." Pg. 506

CHOGIE, CUT A CHOGIE: to move out quickly. Term brought to Vietnam by soldiers who had served in Korea. Pg. 506

CHOI OI: Vietnamese term, exclamation like "Good heavens" or "What the hell!"

CHOKE: peanut butter.

CHOPPER: helicopter. Pg. 506

CHURCH KEY: bottle opener.

CIA: Central Intelligence Agency or simply "The Agency" or "The Company." Pg. 506

CIB: Combat Infantry Badge for actual time in combat. Pg. 506.

The CIB was awarded only to combat veterans holding an infantry MOS and several award levels based on number of tours in a combat zone (meeting the base requirement each time).

CIC: Combat Information Center. Also, Communications and Information Center, but not aboard ship.

CIC: Commander-in-Chief. (President of the United States)

CIDG: (Sidgee) Civilian Irregular Defense Group. Pg. 506

CINCPAC: Commander in Chief, Pacific. Pg. 506

CLACKER: firing device ('exploder') for triggering claymore mines and other electrically initiated demolitions.

CLAYMORE: a popular, fan-shaped, antipersonnel land mine. Pg. 507

Widely used in Vietnam, the claymore antipersonnel mine was designed to produce a directionalized, fan-shaped pattern of fragments. The claymore used a curved block of C-4 explosive, shaped to blow all its force outward in a semicircular pattern. A large number of pellets were embedded in the face of the explosive, creating a devastating blast of fragments similar to the effect of an oversized shotgun.

With their directional pattern, claymores were well-suited as a perimeter-defense weapon. With electronic firing, defenders in bunkers could set claymores in a pattern to cover all approaches and fire them at will. One problem with this was the tendency of the enemy to use infiltrators to sneak into the defense perimeter before an attack and simply turn the claymores around. Then when defenders fired the mine, its fragments peppered their own position.

A more unorthodox use was found for claymores by many American GIs. The explosive burned with intense heat, and a small amount of explosive could quickly heat a can of C-rations in the field. While never designed for it, and certainly never sanctioned, claymores became one of the most popular field stoves in the war. Pg. 82

CLEATS: a strong device, usually metal, used to secure (tie down) to. Such tie-down points, for instance, would line a pier and provide places for mooring lines to attach to.

CLOSE AIR SUPPORT: air strikes against enemy targets that are close to friendly forces, requiring detailed integration of each air mission with the fire and movement of those forces. Pg. 507

CLUSTER BOMBS: a generic term for a number of different CBUs:

"SADEYE/BLU-26B" Cluster Bombs, later nicknamed "guava" bombs by the Vietnamese. These one-pound, baseball-sized bombs were usually dropped in lots of 600 or more. The bomblets were released from a dispenser in such a way as to spread them across a wide area. When they hit the ground, they exploded sending out smaller, steel balls embedded in their cases.

There were also CBU-24; CBU-25; Clamshell CBU, which exploded in a donut pattern, creating a circle of fire in a hollow; and CBU-49, a canister of time-delayed, baseball-sized bomblets that go off randomly over a thirty-minute period, each blasting out 250 white-hot ball bearings and Rockeye CBU, a thermite device used for burning targets.

Check out a Cluster bomb called a "CBU-52" or SU-70. An SU is a cluster bomb before loading ... the canister, if you will. The SU-70 held what was referred to as "Postage Stamp" bomblets because of their shape. These Bomblets are stored in freon and not able to detonate while wet. When dry, this Bomblet would explode when stepped on ... (OUCH). This Bomblet's primary useage was to protect downed pilots. (Right!!)

I believe I have the CBU and SU numbers correct, but you may wish to check it out. I bet even after 25 years, I could still build one in my sleep ... (think I have!)

CMB: Combat Medic Badge:

CO: commanding officer. Pg. 507

COASTIES: nickname used to identify the United States Coast Guard servicemen and women.

COBRA: the AH-1G "attack helicopter." Nicknamed by some the "Shark" or "Snake."

The Cobra carried 2.75s, mini-guns, and a 40mm gun mounted in a turret under the nose of the aircraft. There were other configurations, also. The old "D" model Hueys were fazed out and the Cobras used in greater strength around 1968. Most of the Cobras were painted with eyes and big, scary teeth like a shark for psychological impact.

COMIC BOOKS (FUNNY BOOKS): military maps.

COMM (COMMO): communications. Pg. 507

COMPANY: a company is an organizational institution commanded by a captain and consisting of two or more platoons. It varies widely in size according to its mission. An artillery company is called a battery, and a cavalry company is called a troop. Pg. 95

CONG BO: water buffalo.

CONG KHI: monkey.

CONG MOUI: mosquito.

CONTACT: condition of being in contact with the enemy, a firefight, also "in the shit."

CONUS: continental United States. Pg. 507

COOK-OFF: a situation where an automatic weapon has fired so many rounds that the heat has built up enough in the weapon to set off the remaining rounds without using the trigger mech. This was common in the 50 cal., and the only way to stop it was to rip the belt.

CORDS: Civil Operations (and) Revolutionary Development Support.

In Jan of 1970, they changed "Revolutionary" to "Rural." Civil Operations and Rural Development Support was the MACV advisory effort to the government of VietNam's pacification program. It was the Civil Affairs/Civil Military Operations aspect of the VietNam conflict. CORDS was a joint command, with all service branches represented on its military side. CORDS had a large, mostly American, civilian contingent as well. For most of the time after its inception (late 1968) and through the early 1970s, CORDS was headed by (honorary) Ambassador William Colby (later to become the head of the CIA), who answered directly to Commander, MACV (Gen Abrams), and U.S. Ambassador (Amb. Bunker).

CORK: a drug used in the field with small teams to prevent defecation.

CORK: burnt cork was used for facial camouflage.

CORPS: two or more divisions, responsible for the defense of a Military Region. Pg. 507

The term "corps" has a dual meaning in the armed services. It can be used to designate any group of military personnel performing a similar function, like the Signal Corps or the Medical Corps. As an organizational element in the military, a corps is a unit made up of at least two divisions. The corps commander, usually a lieutenant general, controls combat operations by issuing directives to division commanders and coordinating the work of artillery and cavalry groups.

There were four corps operating in Vietnam during the war:

III Marine Amphibious Force,
The XXIV Corps,
I Field Force Vietnam, and
II Field Force Vietnam.

Pg. 102

COXSWAIN: the person, generally a Boatswain's Mate, in charge of steering and/or directing the crew of a boat. A boat is defined as a vessel smaller than a ship.

CP: command post.

CRACKER BOX: field ambulance.

CREW CHIEF: Huey crewmember who maintains the aircraft.

CRID: (Crid) Republic of Korea Capitol Infantry Division. Americans called it the "Tiger" Division. Pg. 507

CROSSCHECK: everyone checks everyone else for things that are loose, make noise, light up, smell bad, etc.

CS: Composite Service. Also, riot control gas agent, such as a CS-grenade, used widely to clear out enemy tunnel works. Also, a type of tear gas. Pg. 508

C's: C-rations, C-rats, Charlie rats, or combat rations--canned meals used in military operations. The term "Charlie" was both the phonetic alphabetization of the "C" in C-rations and signified the enemy or enemy activity. Pgs. 506, 507 & 508

CT-O: communications technician--Operation Branch.

CYA: cover your ass.

CYCLO: a three-wheel passenger vehicle powered by a human on a bicycle.

DAP: a stylized, ritualized manner of shaking hands, started by African-American troops.

DAPSONE: small pill taken periodically by U.S. troops, ostensibly to prevent malaria but actually to prevent leprosy.


Direct Air Support Center. (Location of communication/Intelligence/Coordination of Combat Air Strike Requests).

Each Corps in RVN had a DASC. The one I was at was III DASC at Bien Hoa RVN.

DASH: Drone Anti-Submarine Helicopter (DASH), a remote-controlled airborne miniature helicopter used to track and detect submarines at a distance.

DENT CAP: Dental Civilian Action Program. U.S.Militaty dental personnel went into the villes and tended to the dental problems and hygiene of the locals.

DD: destroyer. Variations: DDG--destroyer with guided missiles; etc.

DEEP SERIOUS/DEEP SHIT: the worst possible position, such as being nearly overrun. Pg. 508

DEROS: date eligible for return from overseas; the date a person's tour in Vietnam was estimated to end. Pg. 508

Date, Established Return (from) Overseas Service.

DET CORD: detonating cord. An 'instantaneous fuse' in the form of a long thin flexible tube loaded with explosive (PETN). Used to obtain the simultaneous explosion from widely spaced demolitions, such as multiple claymores. Transmitted the explosive chain at 25,000 feet per second. Also used to fell trees by wrapping 3 turns per foot of tree diameter around the tree and firing.

DEUCE: two.

DEUCE AND A HALF: 2.5 ton truck.

DEUCE GEAR: Marine term for the web gear issued to troops, named for the gear's Requisition Form 782, "Seven-Eighty-Deuce."

DI DI MAU: move quickly. Pg. 508

Also shortened to just "Di Di."

D.I.E.: "draft-induced enlistment."

It was the Army's term for guys like me who "volunteered" only because they were about to be drafted.

DINKY DAU: Vietnamese term for "crazy" or "You're crazy."

DIME NICKEL: a 105mm howitzer. Pg. 508

DIRTY THIRTY: pilots who C47 out of Than San Nhut as copilots to Viet Pilots.

DIV: division. Pg. 508

A division is a nearly universal military organization consisting of approximately 20,000 troops commanded by a major general. During the Vietnam War, the following U.S. divisions or elements thereof participated in the War:

The First (1st) Cavalry;

the 1st, the 4th, the Fifth, the Ninth,

the 23rd (Americal), and the 25th Infantry Divisions;

The 82nd, and 101st Airborne;

The lst, the Third, and the 5th Marines; and

The Second, the Seventh, and 834th Air.

Pg. 118

DI WEE: captain.

DMZ: demilitarized zone. Pg. 508

DOC: affectionate title for enlisted medical aidman. Pg. 508

DOC: what the grunts would call medics.

DOD: Department of Defense. Pg. 508

DOI MOI: renovation.

DONUT DOLLY: American Red Cross Volunteer--female. Also seen as "Doughnut Dolly(ies)." Namesake of World War I counterpart; helped the morale of the troops.

DOPE: Marine term for the adjustments made to weapon sights. Also a term for marijuana and other illicit drugs.

DOUBTFULS: indigenous personnel who cannot be categorized as either Vietcong or civil offenders. It also can mean suspect personnel spotted from ground or aircraft. Pg. 508

(THE) DRAG: squad behind the main maneuver element to ensure rear safety. Pg. 508

DRESS WHITES: the formal light weight uniform for the Navy and Coast Guard.

DRUM: holds ammunition until ready to mount on the weapon and "feed" the ammo.

DU: the F-word.

DUFFLEBAG: the oblong, unwieldy bag in which troops stored all their gear. Also, an artillery term for motion/sound/seismic sensors placed along suspected enemy trails or areas. Dufflebag sensors contained small radio transmitters which sent a signal to an intelligence unit when triggered. Once triggered, the artillery fired on the "dufflebag" target to intercept or interdict the enemy.

DU MI AMI: the F-word with maternal overtones.

DUNG LAI: Vietnamese for "STOP!" or "HALT!"

DUSTER: the M-42. It was an automatic twin 40mm "ack-ack" set up on a tank body. It was used for firebase and convoy security.

DUSTER: these were WWII tracked vehicles brought to RVN. They were medium size and sported two 40mm pom-poms plus one M60 Machine Gun, plus a crew of about 4 to 5 with individual weapons. They were used for convoy security and perimeter security for artillery bases each night.

DUSTOFF: a nickname for a medical evacuation helicopter or mission. Pg. 509. Also, see "Medevac."

"I need a Dustoff" became an all-too-familiar call on the airwaves of Vietnam. Dustoff missions were medical evacuation missions using helicopters. While the term has been used to apply to all medical evacuation missions, GIs reserved the term for missions flown to pick up wounded soldiers in the field, often under fire. When a soldier was hit, the call went out for a Dustoff, and any helicopter in the area without a higher priority mission could respond.

Many of the early helicopters used in Vietnam did not fare well in Dustoff missions due to their lack of maneuverability and relatively slow speed, combined with a small door. The UH-1 "Huey" excelled in this role, with its wide doors and ability to get in and out quickly.

Still, flying Dustoffs took courage on the part of the crew, as ground fire was the rule rather than the exception. The rewards, however, were great. Dustoffs allowed wounded soldiers to be brought to medical facilities much more quickly than in any other war, usually in a matter of minutes, and saved many lives. Pg. 125


although the Joint Chiefs of Staff considered deploying the entire 82nd Airborne Division to Vietnam, only the 3rd Brigade ever received such orders, serving in Vietnam between February 18, 1968, and December 11, 1969. Attached to the 101st Airborne Division, the 3rd Brigade fought in I Corps, primarily in Hue. Late in 1968, the 3rd Brigade was moved down to Saigon to defend Tan Son Nhut Air Base. Pg. 128

82' WPB:

82' means 82 feet long. The Coast Guard numbers its small boats by adding the vessels length to the hull number, i.e. 82301 is a 82' boat with a hull number of 301. The hull number also defines the class of boat. The Coast Guard sent A and B class "versions" of the boat to VN. The C class was built to replace those sent.

"WPB." The Coast Guard used the designation of "W" for all its vessels. "W" simply means Coast Guard. The "PB" stands for patrol boat.

Therefore, this is an 82' Coast Guard Patrol Boat.

E1, E2, ETC.:

enlistedmen's grades, E1-Trainee, E2-Private, E3-Private First Class, E4-Corporal or Specialist-4, E5 Sergeant or Specialist-5, etc.

E & E: escape and evasion.

ECM: electronic countermeasures, such as jamming, deception, and detection.

EGG BEATER: affectionate name for Huey or any helicopter.

ELD: USCG Explosive Loading Detachment. There were four ELDs assigned to the Army in VN. They supervised the off loading of all the ammo in VN.

ELECTRIC STRAWBERRY: a nickname for the 25th Infantry Division because of the division's shoulder patch representation of "Tropic Lightning." Pg. 509.
See the
25th Div. shoulder patch. (Use your browser's "Back" feature to return here.)

ELEPHANT GRASS: tall, sharp-edged grass found in the highlands of Vietnam. Pg. 509

ELINT: electronic intelligence.

EM: enlisted man.

ENSIGN: entry level officer rank in the Navy and Coast Guard.

EOD: explosive ordnance disposal.

ET: electronics technicians.

ETS: date of departure from overseas duty station. Pg. 509

Established Termination (of) Service.

EVAC: see "Medevac."

EXFIL: exfiltrate, exfiltration--sneak out/pick up/extract personnel; point of exit from an AO.

EXTRACTION: voluntary or involuntary withdrawal by air of troops from any operational area via helicopter. Pg. 509


The 44th Medical Brigade deployed to Vietnam in April 1966 and remained there until 1970, when it was dissolved into subordinate units. The 44th consisted of the 32nd Medical Depot at Long Binh; the 43rd and 55th Medical Groups in II Corps; the 67th Medical Group in III Corps; and the 68th Medical Group in III and IV Corps. The 44th Medical Brigade was responsible for medical evacuation (see "Medevac"), evacuation hospitals, field hospitals, Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals (MASH), convalescent centers, and ambulance detachments. Pg. 157


The F-4 Phantom II, a twin-engine, all-weather, tactical fighter-bomber, was one of the principal aircraft deployed to Southeast Asia. Capable of operating at speeds of more than 1,600 miles per hour and at altitudes approaching 60,000 feet, the first F-4s were deployed to participate in the air war over Vietnam in August 1964 by the United States Navy. On August 6, 1964, in response to the Gulf of Tonkin incident, five F-4Bs from the USS Constellation attacked North Vietnamese patrol boat bases. The F-4 aircraft expanded their operations beginning on April 3, 1965, when fifty F-4Bs attacked a road bridge 65 miles south of Hanoi.

The first United States Air Force (USAF) F-4s were deployed to Southeast Asia in early 1965 and became involved in significant air operations during the summer. On July 10, 1965, two F-4Cs shot down two MiG-17 fighters over North Vietnam with Sidewinder missiles. In October 1965 the first RF-4s, aircraft equipped with reconnaissance equipment, were deployed to the theater. By March 1966, seven USAF F-4 squadrons were in South Vietnam and three were in Thailand. Buildup of F-4 aircraft and operations continued thereafter including F-4s from the Marine Corps.

A total of 511 F-4s from all services were lost in Southeast Asia from June 6, 1965, through June 29, 1973. Of these, 430 were combat losses, while 81 resulted from aerial or ground accidents. Pg. 143

The F-4 was called a lot of things, mostly with respect. It was referred to by some as "Fox 4."

F-100 or HUN: close support low flying jet.

FAC: (Fack) Forward air controller. Pg. 509

The forward air controller (FAC) had the responsibility for calling in air strikes on enemy positions during the Vietnam War. Usually flying a low-level, low-speed aircraft, such as a single-engine Cessna O-1 Bird Dog spotter plane, the FAC identified Vietcong or North Vietnamese positions and relayed the information to attack aircraft, helicopter gunships, or high-altitude bombers. On the ground, a forward air controller would call in similar information. Pg. 157

FAG: field artillery guy.

FANTAIL: the stern or aft open area of a ship, also called the afterdeck.

FAST MOVER: jet; usually the F-4.

FAT ALBERT: a C-5A aircraft.

FATIGUES: standard combat uniform, green in color. Pg. 509

FBI: Federal Bureau of Investigation. Pg. 509

FEATHER: a propeller adjusted in pitch so that it will neither pull nor push air (if it must be shut down, the prop will be "feathered" so as not to 'windmill').

FEET WET: expression used by pilots to indicate they were over water (South China Sea or Gulf of Thailand).

FIELD OF FIRE: area that a weapon or group of weapons can cover effectively with fire from a given position. Pg. 509

FIGHTING HOLE: a foxhole with sandbag protection and sometimes an elevated roof of sheetmetal, reinforced with sandbags. Sized for one or two troops, fighting holes might be dispersed around a company or battery area for defensive use during a ground attack.

FIGMO: state of blissful abandon, achieved after receiving orders out of Vietnam. Literally "Fuckit, I Got My Orders."

FINI FLIGHT: an Air Force pilot's last mission in Vietnam.

FIRE BASE or FB: (sometimes called a fire support base) temporary artillery firing position often secured by infantry. Pg. 509. These bases dotted VN and usually were comprised of four howitzers with crews and a company of Infantry.

FIRECRACKER: artillery round incorporating many small bomblets which are ejected over a target area and explode in 'bouncing-betty' fashion almost simultaneously, the name comes from the fast popping sound (best heard at a distance).

FIREFIGHT: exchange of small arms fire between opposing units. Pg. 509

FIRE FOR EFFECT: when all ordnance was aimed at the enemy in continual firing.

FIRE MISSION: an artillery mission.

FIRST CAVALRY DIVISION: during the nineteenth century, American cavalry units were horse-mounted troops designed to survey enemy positions and provide screens for incoming infantry units. The horse-mounted cavalry gave way during the twentieth century to armored personnel carriers and tanks. A major innovation of the Vietnam War was the use of air cavalry units where troops are moved into battlefield positions by helicopters. The FIRST CAVALRY DIVISION was one of the main air cavalry units in Southeast Asia. Pg. 12

Originally activated in 1921, the First Cavalry Division fought (dismounted) in the Pacific during World War II and later in Korea. In 1965 the division's flag was taken from Korea and presented to the experimental 11th Air Assault Division, which became the First Cavalry Division (Airmobile). (The former First Cavalry Division, still in Korea, became the new 2nd Infantry Division.)

The division was deployed to South Vietnam in September 1965 and was the first full division to arrive in the country. It was almost immediately in battle in the Ia Drang Valley. The division won a Presidential Unit Citation for its fierce fighting. During 1966 and 1967 elements of the division were engaged in numerous actions throughout the II Corps Tactical Zone.

Initially committed to operations in Binh Dinh Province in early 1968, the bulk of the division was hurriedly recommitted to the Battle for Hue and then to the relief of the marine position at Khe Sanh.

Later in the year the division served in the A Shau Valley before being shifted to protect the northern and western approaches to Saigon.

As the army's first airmobile division, the First Cavalry Division pioneered air assault tactics... It was considered one of the army's elite units in Vietnam, highly valuable because of its extreme mobility.

The division suffered over 30,000 casualties during the war. Pgs. 146 & 147.
See the 1st Cav shoulder patch. (Use your browser's "Back" feature to return here.)


FLACK JACKET: heavy fiberglass-filled vest worn for protection from shrapnel. Pg. 510.

Later, 1969-70, incorporated pyroceramic plates to protect back and chest from rifle-fire.

FLARE: illumination projectile. Pg. 510

FLYING COW: C-123 or C-130 aircraft equipped with a rubberized collapsible drum and 350-GPM (gallons per minute) pumps. Also called "Bladder Bird" or "Cow." Pg. 510

FNG: most common name for newly arrived person in Vietnam. It was literally translated as a "Fuckin' new guy." Pg. 510

FO: forward observer; calls fire missions to artillery and sometimes Air and Naval gunfire.

FORWARD: directional--in, at, toward, or near the bow or front of the ship or boat.

FRAG: the common term for any grenade. Pg. 510

FREE FIRE ZONE: any area in which permission was not required prior to firing on targets. Pg. 510

FREEDOM BIRD: any aircraft that took you back to the "world" (U.S.A.). The aircraft on which you left Vietnam.

FREQ: radio frequency.

FRIENDLIES: U.S. troops, allies, or anyone not on the other side.

FRIENDLY AIR ASSETS: U.S. air support.

FRIENDLY FIRE: "Friendly Fire" was a euphemism used during the war in Vietnam to describe air, artillery or small-arms fire from American forces mistakenly directed at American positions. Pg. 167

FTA: Free the Army. Pg. 510. Actually, "Fuck the Army;" a derogatory phrase used by frustrated soldiers. Often publically re-interpreted to "Fire The Artillery."

"FTA" also referred to the "First Team Academy" where 1st Cav assignees spent their first few days getting outfitted, learning the ropes, and such Cav things as rapelling, etc.

FUBAR: short for "Fucked Up Beyond All Repair" or "Recognition." To describe impossible situations, equipment, or persons as in, "It is (or they are) totally Fubar!"

FUSE: cord filled with pyrotechnic composition, burned at a precise rate after ignition.

FUZE: triggering mechanism attached to the nose of an artillery shell or bomb.

GA MUG: thank you.

GHOST BOATS: what command called the four LSMRs in country.

G.I.: government issue.

GMG1: Gunner's Mate Guns Class Petty Officer or just GMGFirst Class, which is the same as an E-6 in any service.

GOMERS: North Vietnamese.

GOOKS: slang expression brought to Vietnam by Korean War Veterans. The term refers to anyone of Asian origin. Pg. 511

GP: general purpose, as in general purpose tent: large rectangular tent sleeping 10 to 12 men with an aisle down the middle.

G.P STRAP: general purpose strap that came off your rucksack. Many uses, but used mainly to replace the sling on an M-16.

GPM: gallons per minute. Pg. 511

GQ: general quarters--battle stations where military personnel are assigned to go ASAP when alarm sounds.

GREASE GUN: M2-A1 sub-machinegun, .45cal automatic weapon.

GREEN BERETS: members of the Special Forces of the U.S. Army. They were awarded the green beret headgear as a mark of distinction. Pg. 511. Also referred to as Green Beanies. (See Special Forces.)

GREEN TRACERS: color left by the ammunition fired from enemy AAA or AK-47s whereby you could track/trace its path.

GREEN-EYE: Starlight scope. Light amplifying telescope, used to see at night.

GRUNT: a popular nickname for an infantryman in Vietnam; supposedly derived from the sound one made from lifting up his rucksack. Also Ground Pounder or Crunchie. Pgs. 507 & 511

GSW-TTH: casualty report term meaning 'gunshot wound, thru and thru.'

GUERRILLA: soldiers of a resistance movement who are organized on a military or paramilitary basis. Pg. 511

GUERRILLA WARFARE: military operations conducted in enemy-held or hostile territory by irregular, predominantly indigenous forces. Pg. 511

GUNG HO: very enthusiastic and committed. Pg. 511. Chinese term for "All together."

GUNSHIP: an armed helicopter or adapted fixed-wing aircraft. Pg. 511

GUN TRUCKS: the deuce-and-a-halfs that would accompany convoys. They were usually fitted with a .50 and one or two M60s, plus individual weapons for usually a crew of four to five.

GVN: Government of South Vietnam. Pg. 511

HAI VAN PASS: a particularly treacherous pass through the mountians south of Phu Bai, just before coming into Da Nang.

HAM N'MOTHERFUCKERS: C-Ration 'Ham and Lima Beans,' a well hated meal among soldiers.


HANOI HILTON: nickname American prisoners of war used to describe the Hoa Loa Prison in Hanoi. Pg. 511

HAWSERS: heavy line used in mooring a ship; often 4 or 6 inches in diameter or more. These lines are *never* referred to as "rope."

HE: high explosive.

HEAT: High Explosive, Anti Tank.

HEAT TABS: fuel pellets used for heating C-Rations.

HEAVY: LRRPs usually operated in teams of 5 or 6 guys. On occasion, when it was *known* the team was going to be in deep shit, they were assigned 10. This was commonly called a heavy team. It was more difficult to hide, but the additional M-60 machine gun and other firepower made the inconvenience worth the trouble.

HES: Hamlet Evaluation System.

A computerized system whereby CORDS personnel at MACV HQ "tracked" the progress of the pacification programs in hamlets throughout South VietNam. Input for the program was supplied by the American District Senior Advisor in each district "in country."

HIGHWAY ONE: This was the route from the north into Saigon. Gens Seamans & De Puy with the Big Red One from Dian went up this route to clear it in '66 so that the rice harvest could get into the city. At the same time, the 9th & 10th, as I recall, VC Divs made an attack on Quan Dau Ting, which caused the 1st Inf Div to pull back to relieve what I recall as a Light Inf Bde -- maybe the 176 or 173 -- many years have passed. Hope this helps some.

HILLSBORO: an AF "command and control" aircraft.

HOOTCH: house or living quarters or a native hut. Pg. 512

Also, the term had several meanings--house,weed,booze.

HORN: radio, "Get the CO on the horn..."

HOSE (DOWN): massive automatic weapons fire, as from a minigun, Spooky or other high firepower gunship. Basecamp perimeters suspected of being infiltrated by sappers would be 'hosed down' by gunships and 'mad minutes'.

HOT: dangerous, such as Hot LZ (where aircraft are receiving enemy fire) Pg. 512. Also see Red.

HOT HOIST: extraction of a soldier by helicopter, using its hoist due to the triple canopy, while under fire.

HOT TOC: hair cut.

HQ: headquarters. Pg. 512

HUE: First built by Emperor Gia Long early in the nineteenth century, Hue was the imperial capital of Vietnam between 1802 and 1945. It is located on Highway 1 about 420 miles south of Hanoi and 670 miles north of Saigon and was an independent municipality under the Republic of Vietnam (Rvn).

For the Vietcong and North Vietnamese, Hue was a city with tremendous historical significance. Being the former imperial capital of a united Vietnam, the center of Vietnamese cultural and religious life, and the capital of Thua Thien Province, Hue became an important symbol in the struggle for dominance of Indochina.

It was also a difficult city to defend.

Isolated by the Annamese mountain chain and bordered by Laos to the west and the Demilitarized Zone to the north, Hue was without access to a major port for resupply. Still, before the Tet Offensive, Hue was considered secure for South Vietnam. That all ended on January 31, 1968.

At 3:40 a.m. that morning North Vietnamese Army (NVA) artillery began pounding the city. Elements of the NVA 6th Regiment simultaneously attacked Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV) headquarters in Hue and ARVN 1st Division headquarters. Other NVA troops blockaded Highway 1 north and south of the city and attacked several hundred other sites in the city. By daylight, the Vietcong flag was flying atop the Imperial Citadel of the Nguyen emperors. Hue had fallen to the Communists.

The American and ARVN counterattack on Hue began almost immediately with huge volumes of artillery, naval bombardment, and air strikes reducing much of Hue to rubble while elements of the First Air Cavalry Division, the 101st Airborne Division, the ARVN 1st Division, the U.S. 1st Marines, and ARVN Rangers and Marines engaged in house-to- house, hand-to-hand combat with NVA troops and Vietcong.

The Imperial Citadel was not recaptured from the Communists until February 24, 1968. Hue had been devastated. More than 50 percent of the city had been totally destroyed, and 116,000 people of a total population of 140,000 had been rendered homeless. Nearly 6,000 civilians were dead or missing, and several thousand more were assassinated outright during the Vietcong occupation. The NVA and Vietcong suffered 5,000 dead; the United States, 216 dead and 1,364 seriously wounded; and the ARVN, 384 dead and 1,830 seriously wounded.

Like the Tet Offensive in general, the battle for Hue was a tactical defeat for the Communists as well as a strategic victory. In taking control of the city, if only for several weeks, they had proven that MACV predictions of an imminent Communist collapse were totally groundless, undermining American faith in the credibility of political and military leaders. Hue in particular, and Tet in general, was indeed the turning point in the war. Pgs. 209 & 210

HUEY: nickname for the UH-series helicopters: "utility helicopter."

HUEY SLICK: UH-1. The Bell UH-1 helicopter is one of aviation's true success stories. Thousands of the aircraft have been made in a number of variations, serving a multitude of roles. Called the "Iroquois" by the United States Army, the aircraft is much better know by its nickname of "Huey," derived from its initial designation of HU-1. In its multitude of roles in Vietnam, the Huey became a familiar sight on the television screens of America. Hardly a night passed without the evening news showing Hueys in dustoff, slick or other missions.

Bell was chosen in 1955 to provide the army with a utility helicopter capable of serving as a front-line medical evacuation (see "Medevac") aircraft, a general utility aircraft, and an instrument training aircraft. Deliveries to the U.S. Army began in 1959.

In 1961 a more powerful version, the UH-1B, was introduced. In 1967, starting with the UH-1D series, the airframe length was increased, giving the Huey a much roomier passenger-cargo compartment capable of carrying more troops or supplies. In 1968 Bell developed a specialized version of the aircraft with a stronger airframe and more powerful engine. The "Huey tug," as it was nicknamed, was capable of lifting loads up to three tons, nearly double that of a conventional Huey.

Powered by a 1,400 SHP Avco Lycoming engine, the Huey had a cruising speed of 127 mph and a range of 318 miles. Fast and highly maneuverable, the Huey proved far superior to the CH-21 or CH-34 as an assault helicopter. Combat troops normally rode in the wide doors on each side of the aircraft, and could exit quickly, greatly reducing the time the helicopter was on the ground. Often troops jumped from a Huey just above the ground as it "bounced" in ground effect and then left, with the entire ground time reduced to a matter of seconds. Pgs. 463 & 464

HUMP: to slog around on foot.

HUN: an F-100 aircraft.

I CORPS: northernmost military region in South Vietnam. Pg. 509

Also known as "Eye" Corps, I Corps was one of the four major military and administrative units of the Vietnamese government in the 1960s and early 1970s. In particular, I Corps was the Central Vietnam Lowlands administrative unit and consisted of the five northernmost provinces: Quang Tri, Thua Thien, Quang Nam, Quang Tin, and Quang Ngai.

The headquarters of I Corps was located in Da Nang. The major cities in I Corps were Hue, Quang Tri City, Da Nang, and Chu Lai.

I Corps was also known as Military Region 1. During the course of the Vietnam War, the following U.S. military units fought in I Corps:

9th Marine Amphibious Brigade,
Third Marine Division,
III Marine Amphibious Force,
lst Marine Division,
Americal Division,
XXIV Corps,
First (1st) Cavalry Division (Airmobile),
101st Airborne Division,
First Brigade,
Fifth Infantry Division, and
the 82nd Airborne Division.

Pg. 147

II CORPS: Central Highlands military region in South Vietnam. Pg. 520

III CORPS: military region between Saigon and the Highlands. Pg. 521

IV CORPS: the southernmost military region in South Vietnam, located in the Mekong Delta. Pg. 510

I&I: intoxication and intercourse. This term was used in lieu of R&R.

ILLUM: illumination. Flares dropped by aircraft and fired from the ground by hand, artillery or mortars.

INCOMING: receiving enemy mortar or rocket fire. Pg. 512

IN COUNTRY: Vietnam. Pg. 512

INSERTION/INSERTED: secret helicopter placement of combat troops in an operational area. Pg. 512

INTEL: intelligence.

IN THE FIELD: any forward combat area or any area outside of a town or base camp. Pg. 512

IP: instructor pilot.

IR-8 and IR-5 Rice: more popularly known as "Miracle Rice."

Two strains of rice, developed by the U.S. in the Philippines, that CORDS personnel tried to get South VietNamese farmers to use. Tasted slightly different than standard "paddy rice" but had more yield per crop, more crops per growing season, and were less likely to be lost to flooding. The increased use of this rice was part of the eighth pacification program objective of 1969.

IRREGULARS: armed individuals and groups not members of the regular armed forces, police, or other internal security forces. Pg. 512

IVY (IV) DIVISION: nickname of the 4th Infantry Division. (Patch has 4 ivy leaves.)

JESUS NUT: main rotor retaining nut that holds the main rotor onto the rest of the helicopter!!!! If it came off, only Jesus could help you.

JINK: Air Force term for turning hard to avoid enemy fire or detection.

JOLLY GREEN GIANT: heavily armed air force C-47 aircraft supporting troops or an air force HH-53 heavy rescue helicopter. Pg. 513

JUSPAO: Joint United States Public Affairs Office.

JVC: Victor Company of Japan, a Japanese electronics company, like Sony.

KAK WHEEL: carried on a thick string around an RTOs neck to encrypt map coordinates.

K-BAR: combat knife with a six-inch blade and hard leather handle, used mostly by the Marine Corps.

KHMER ROUGE: "Red Khmers." The forces of the Cambodian Communist Party. Pg. 513

KHONG BIET: Vietnamese for "I don't know" or "I don't understand."

KIA: Killed In Action.

KLICK, K: short for kilometer (.62 miles). Pg. 513

KOON SA: the wacky weed.

KP: kitchen police. Pg. 513

LAI DAI: "Bring to me" or "Come to me."

LA VAY: beer.

LAW: (Law) M72 Light Antitank Weapon. A shoulder-fired, 66mm rocket with a one-time disposable fiberglass launcher. Pg. 513

LAY CHILLY: lie motionless.

LBGB: little bitty gook boat (small watercraft, usually one or two people, sometimes made from reeds).

LBJ RANCH: (L-B-J) the Long Binh Stockade. The last word was changed to make a pun on the initials of President Lyndon Baines Johnson. Pg. 514

LC: Library of Congress.

LEANING SHITHOUSE: nickname of the 1st Log (logistics)(patch).

LEATHERNECK: term for MARINE..(Marines wore a Leather neckband 1798-1880 for protection of the neck during sword combat.)

LIFER: career soldier. Pg. 514

LIGHT UP: to fire on the enemy.

LIMA-LIMA: low level, as in aircraft altitude GCI - Ground-Controlled Intercept.

LOACH OR LOH: light observation helicopter, notably the OH-6A. Pg. 514

LOCK AND LOAD: (Editor's Note: We've had some fun with this one. Our viewers have sent several meanings/ideas/etc. about this ... each separate below ... and each, mostly, from their own experiences and remembrances of Vietnam. We welcome them all.)

meaning to chamber a round in your weapon.

Lock and load comes from the rifle range training exercises, when we were ordered to chamber a round in our rifles.

Lock means mounting the magazine; load means chambering a round. I've had grunts tell me I had it backwards or totally wrong. One grunt told me that load meant putting the magazine in, chambering a round, and lock meant putting the safety on. Others said load meant putting the magazine in and lock meant chambering a round. Since you can't chamber a round until you have the magazine in place, this didn't make sense to me (lock and then load), but several insisted that was the way it was.

LO DUN: land mines. Referred to as such by tiger scouts.

LONELY HEARTS: nickname of 24 Corp (patch).

LONG GREEN LINE: column of infantry advancing through jungle terrain. Pg. 514

LONG KNIFE: call sign of the Army Air Cav Hueys - also "Long Knives" as a generic term for the Air Cav.

LORAN: a "long-range radio-navigation" position fixing system using the time difference of reception of pulse type transmissions from two or more fixed stations.

The USCG operated four "LORAN" stations in SE Asia: two in Vietnam and two in Thailand. These stations were part of the chain of stations across the Pacific Ocean. "LORAN" operated in two modes: "A" and "C." "A" model began operation in World War II and was eventually replaced in some areas of the world by "C" model

"LORAN" is being made obsolete by the global positioning system (GPS), and the USCG closed its last Pacific "LORAN" station at Marcus Island in September 1993 and transferred to the Japanese Maritime Safety Agency.

LP: Listening Position. A 3-man post placed outside the barbwire surrounding a fire base. Each would lay out claymore mines; they would have 1 radio and take turns during the night listening and looking. They were the early warning for the troops inside the parimeter.

LRP OR LRRP: (Lurp) long-range reconnaissance patrol. Pg. 514

LSMR 536: meaning toilet boat.

We were with Inshore Fire Support Division 93; my ship, Flagship, was the U.S.S. Carronade (IFS-1). She was built for the Korean War, decommissioned and recommissioned for Vietnam. I sailed with her as a plankowner in 1965 through 1968. She was built from the keel up as a rocket firing ship. The LSMRs were old LSMs (Landing Ship Medium ) that later received the "R" designation (Rocket).

The U.S.S. Carronade had 8, mk5 Rocket Launchers and could launch them with pinpoint accuracy ... 5,000 in just a few moments! ... one 5'38 duel purpose gun, and two, twin, forty milimeter "Pom Pom" guns. Also, lots of 50 and 30 caliber machine guns.

LURPS: long-range reconnaissance patrol members. Also, an experimental lightweight food packet consisting of a dehydrated meal and named after the soldiers it was most often issued to. Pg. 514

LZ: landing zone. Pg. 514

LZ CUT: performed from C-130 aircraft usually by rolling a large bomb out the rear which was attached to a 6' fuse. The bomb blew horizontally, not creating a crater but making an instant LZ.

M-1: World War II vintage American rifle/carbine. Pg. 515. The 8 shot, .30 caliber "M-1" was superceded by the M-14 and subsequently by the 18 shot .223 M-16.

M11: large, anti-malaria pill (Chloroquine). Taken every Monday, produced persistant diarrhea.

M-14: .30 cal, select-fire rifle used in early portion of Vietnam War. Pg. 515

M-16: nicknamed the widow-maker, the standard American rifle used in Vietnam after 1966. Pg. 515, 523

M-60: American-made 7.62mm (.308 cal) machine gun. Pg. 515

M-79: single-barreled, break-action grenade launcher, which fired 40mm projectiles, nicknamed the "Blooper." Pg. 505. aka "Thumper" or "Thumpgun"

MAC-SOG: Military Assistance Command Studies and Observation Group. Pg. 514

MACV: (Mac-vee) Military Assistance Command, Vietnam. Pg. 514

HQ'ed out of the "Pentagon East," just outside TanSon Nhut AB, there were MACV units, detachments, and advisory groups throughout VietNam.

MAD MINUTE: concentrated fire of all weapons for a brief period of time at maximum rate; also called "Mike-mike." Pg. 514

MAG-16: Marine Air Group 16, attached to the 1st MAW, the First Marine Aircraft Wing. They were stationed just south of Da Nang, near Marble Mountain.

MAGS: magazines where ammunition kept/stored until placed in a weapon.

MAMA-SAN: mature Vietnamese woman. Pg. 514

MASH: Mobile Army Surgical Hospital. Pg. 515

MAT: Mobile Advisory Team. Usually a six-member team of two U.S. Army officers, three enlisted men, and an interpreter responsible for training territorial forces (RF and PF). Pg. 515

MECH: mechanized infantry. Pg. 515

MEDCAP: (Med-cap) Medical Civil Action Program. Pg. 515

MEDEVAC: medical evacuation by helicopter; also called an "evac" or "Dustoff." Pg. 515

"Medevac" was an acronym for medical evacuation, almost always associated with evacuation of casualties by helicopter during or after a battle. Consequently, the helicopters used for these missions also were called "medevac helicopters," or simply "medevacs."

The use of the helicopter in a variety of missions was a distinguishing feature of the Vietnam War. For American and Allied troops, the sound of the helicopter was perhaps the most nearly ubiquitous sound of the war. Usually it evoked positive feelings for troops in the field, since the helicopter almost always meant relief in some form, be it additional troop reinforcements; supplies such as ammunition, food, and medicine; or evacuation of the wounded and/or dead.

The medevac helicopter was an especially important factor in enhancing and sustaining troop morale in the field. Soldiers knew that if they were wounded, the probability was high that they would be transported quickly to a field hospital. Statistics suggest the validity of this assumption: nearly 98 percent of those wounded in action were evacuated from the battlefield alive, and no battle- field was more than one hour's flying time from a hospital.

Medevac helicopter crews often had to fly into "hot" landing zones to evacuate the wounded, and all of those involved in evacuating wounded under such conditions were at great risk of becoming casualties.

The use of the helicopter for medical evacuation contributed substantially to the military performance of American and Allied troops during the Vietnam War, and medevacs resulted in many wounded being saved who might otherwise have died.

A synonym for medevac was "Dustoff," used to refer to medevac missions and medevac helicopters after the death of Lieutenant Paul B. Kelley in 1964 while on a medevac mission. Dustoff was Kelley's radio call sign. Pgs. 279 & 280

MET MESSAGE: weather conditions report sent from a meteorological unit.

MIA: Missing In Action.

MIC: microphone.

MIG: (MiG) Soviet fighter plane. Pg. 515

MIHN OI: sweetheart.

MIKE: minute. Such as, "Move out in two-zero Mikes..." (20 minutes).

MIKE-MIKE: millimeters, as in "..a 60 Mike Mike" (60mm mortar).

MIKE FORCE, MSF: Special Forces Mobile Strike Force; composed of indigenous personnel and used as a reaction or reinforcing unit. Pg. 515

MINI-POUNDER: small radar transmitter used to mark locations on the ground for radar-carrying aircraft.

MOONBEAM: nighttime name of "Hillsboro."

Moonbeam was a night-time command and control aircraft that flew with BIG searchlights at fairly low altitudes, illuminating the ground.

MOS: Military Occupational Specialty--the job designator; one's job title.

MOUA: rain.

MPC: military payment currency; used instead of U.S. dollars.

MRF - the Mobile Riverine Force, 2nd Brigade 9th Infantry Division and River Assault Flotilla 1.

MULE: small 4-wheeled cargo vehicle.

NAILS: a type of warhead attached to a 2.75-inch, spin-stabilized, folding-fin, aerial rocket. Called flechettes, this round was used against personnel targets. It was usually launched from helicopter gunships. The number of nails in a round escapes me, but it is around several hundred.

NAPALM/NAPE: An incendiary used in Vietnam by French and Americans both as defoliant and antipersonnel weapon. Pg. 516. Consisted of a flammable organic solvent, usually gasoline, gelled by soap. Delivered by bombs or flamethrower, napalm clung to the surfaces it touched, holding the burning solvent in place on the target.

NAV: navigator or radar navigator in an aircraft.

NAVAL SLANG and idiom of the day.

NCO: noncommissioned officer. Pg. 516

NEWBIE: any person with less time in Vietnam than the speaker.

NGFS: Naval GunFire Support (with 5" to 16" shells).

NGO: non-governmental organizaton.

NIPA PALM: very sharp-edged palms that grew in very dense concentrations. Edges much like sawgrass. Nasty stuff.

NKP: Nhakon Phanom Air Base, Thailand. Major comm and electronic warfare base.

NLF: National Liberation Front, officially the National Front for the Liberation of the South.

NOOK: water.


NO SWEAT: can do...easily done or accomplished.

NON LA: conical hat, part of traditional Vietnamese costume.

NSA: Naval Support Activity.

NSD: Naval Supply Depot, aka: NAVSUPDEP.

NUC or NOUC: water.




NUOC MAM: fermented fish sauce, called "armpit sauce" by many.

NVA: North Vietnamese Army, Pg. 516, or referring to a soldier in same.

105: 105mm howitzer or F-105 Thunderchief fighter-bomber ("Thud").

122mm, 140mm, ETC.: large-caliber enemy rockets. Pg. 519

O2: Cessna Skymaster, also known as push-me-pull-you. FAC aircraft. Twin engine, one fore and one aft of cabin section.

O3: Really 03--an infantryman. This is based on the 03 series of MOS. The pay grade 03 is Captain (US Marine Corps/US Army/US Air Force); or as a Lt. (US Navy/US Coast Guard). The grunt MOS is often referred to as "Oh-3"--at least in the Corps.

OCS: Officer's Candidate School.

OSS: Office of Strategic Services. Created in 1942, the OSS was an intelligence-gathering operation which became a forerunner of the CIA. Pg. 517

OD: olive drab color, standard "Army Green" color. Also, Officer of the Day.

ONE O DEUCE: refers to a 105mm howitzer. Many do not know the 105mm is actually 102mm.

OUC-DA-LOI: Vietnamese for Australian.

OUT-COUNTRY: the Southeast Asian conflict outside South Vietnam (i.e., Laos and North Vietnam, sometimes Thailand, Cambodia, and China) Pg. 517

P-38: can opener for canned C-rations. Pg. 517

PAPA-SAN: an elderly Vietnamese man.

PAVN: (Pavin) People's Army of Vietnam; also known as the NVA. Pg. 517


A high-speed, fiberglass craft; about 31' beam of 11' 7" and weighing 15,500 without the crew; manned by a four-man crew and mounting armament sufficient to perform all normal river, canal, and tideway patrol activities. Powered by 2 diesel engines with waterjet pump drives.

Two variations were in use in Vietnam: the MK 1 and the MK 2. Standard armament -- twin .50 caliber machine guns forward, M-60 machine gun and M-18 grenade launcher midships, and a single .50 machine gun at the stern. Many different variations of armament were arranged by the crews.

PBR: also referred to as PROUD BRAVE RELIABLE.

PBR: short for Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, the only beer a PBR sailor would drink; warm (always) -- tastes terrible, cold (never happened in Nam) -- tasted terrible.

PETER PILOT: co-pilot, the less-experienced pilot in a Huey.

PF: Popular Forces. Pg. 517

PFC: Private First Class. Pg. 517

In an aviation company, a "PFC" was not necessarily a Private First Class but rather a "Private Fuckin' Civilian," which we all aspired to become once again when our tour was over.

PH: Purple Heart


PLATOON: approximately 45 men belonging to a company. Pg. 517

Commanded by a lieutenant, a platoon is an organizational unit composed of two or more squads. A sergeant is usually second in command. Pg. 372

POINT MAN: lead soldier in a unit cutting a path through dense vegetation if needed and constantly exposed to the danger of tripping booby traps or being the first in contact with the enemy. Pgs. 517 & 518

PONCHO LINER: nylon insert to the military rain poncho, used as a blanket. Pg. 518

POP: generically, to 'trigger' or 'initiate', as in "...pop a flare."

POPEYE: expression used by a pilot to indicate that he was flying in Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC); i.e., in the clouds.

POP SMOKE: to mark a target, team sight (location), or Landing Zone (LZ) with a smoke grenade.

During extraction, the inbound helicopter crew would call out the color of the smoke they were seeing, normally yellow, purple, or green. This allowed a team on the ground to confirm for the chopper that the chopper was "on our smoke" because the enemy would occasionally pop a smoke grenade in an effort to lure the chopper to their location where they could have 'em for lunch. Many units reserved red smoke grenades for marking targets for gunships.

PORT: on the left of the ship or boat when facing forward.

POW: Prisoner of War.

PRC-25: nicknamed Prick. lightweight infantry field radio. Pg. 518

PRC-77: radio, similar to PRC-25 but incorporated an encryption feature for secure communication.

PROJOS: Howitzer projectile - term used by pilots transporting same.

P's: piasters, the Vietnamese monetary unit. Pg. 517

PSDF: Peoples Self Defense Force.

Local South VietNamese citizens banded together in something of an armed "neighborhood watch." Primarily useful against local terrorists and squad-size VC units.

PSP: Perforated Steel Plate. Construction panels, about 3'X8', made of plate steel, punched with 2" holes, and having features on the sides for interlocking together. PSP could be linked together to surface a road, airstrip, etc. or several sheets could be linked into a large plate to form the roof of a bunker, fighting hole, etc., usually covered with sandbags. PSYCHEDELIC COOKIE: nickname of the 9th Infantry Division (patch).

PTSD: post-traumatic stress disorder. Pg. 518

PUCKER FACTOR: assessment of the 'fear factor,' as in the difficulty/risk in an upcoming mission.

PUFF (the Magic Dragon): AC-47 aircraft fitted with side-firing miniguns and flares.

PUSH: refering to a radio frequency, ie 'PUSH 71.675' meaning a frequency of 71.675 megahertz.

PX: post exchange. Pg. 518

QC: Qua^n Ca~nh. Vietnamese equivalent of an American MP.

QUAD 50s: A World War II vintage, anti-aircraft weapon used in Vietnam as an anti-personnel weapon. It consisted of four electric, selenoid-fired, 50 cal. machine guns mounted in a movable turret, sometimes put on the back of a deuce and a half. It was used for firebase and convoy security.

RAP: Rocket assisted projectile. A device whereby the range of a shell from a 5" gun is extended to a ridiculous length with absolutely no accuracy.

RC: radio control, as in radio control models.

RECON: reconnaissance. Pg. 518

REDLEG: or cannon-cocker: Artilleryman.

RED LZ: landing zone under hostile fire. Also see Hot. Pg. 519

REMF: Rear Echelon Mother Fucker. Nickname given to men serving in the rear by front-line soldiers. Could also be RAMF attributed to the U.S. Marine Corps: Rear Area Mother Fucker.

RF/PF: Regional Forces and Popular Forces of South Vietnam; also known as "Ruff-Puffs." Pg. 519

Regional Forces and Popular Forces of the VietNamese military. Somewhat similiar in make-up and deployment to the American National Guard of the 1960s. Generally operated in the areas where they were recruited. Not especially effective, militarily, against main-force, enemy units.

ROCK 'N' ROLL: to put a M16A1 rifle on full automatic fire. Pg. 519

ROKs: Republic of Korea ground troops.

ROME PLOW: large bulldozer fitted with a large blade, used to clear jungle and undergrowth in order to make friendly operations easier in that area.

RONONE: USCG Squadron One.

RONTHREE or RON3: larger Coast Guard vessels assigned off-shore patrol work.

ROUND EYE: slang term used by American soldiers to describe another American or an individual of European descent. Pg. 519

RPD: enemy weapon; light machine gun.

RPG: Russian-manufactured antitank grenade launcher; also, rocket-propelled grenade. Pg. 519

RPG SCREEN: chain link fence erected around a valuable position to protect it from RPG attack by causing the enemy rocket to explode on the fence and not on the protected bunker, etc.

R & R: rest-and-recreation vacation taken during a one-year duty tour in Vietnam. Out-of-country R & R was at Bangkok, Hawaii, Tokyo, Australia, Hong Kong, Manila, Penang, Taipei, Kuala Lampur or Singapore.

In-country R & R locations were at Vung Tau, Cam Rahn Bay or China Beach. Pg. 518

ROCKn'ROLL: firing of weapons on full automatic.

RTO: radio telephone operator who carried the PRC-25. Pg. 519

RUCK, RUCKSACK: backpack issued to infantry in Vietnam. Pg. 519

RVN: Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam). Pg. 519

7.62 MINIS: the AK-47; refers to the caliber bullet the AK used.

SAME-SAME: same as....

SANDY: the navigational name of the northeastern-most corner of the Saigon Flight Information Region (FIR), of which flight past assured the crew of combat pay and combat income tax exemption.

SAPPERS: North Vietnamese Army or Vietcong demolition commandos. Pg. 520

SAR: search and rescue.

SKY PILOT: another name for the Chaplain.

SEA: Southeast Asia.

SEABEES: Naval construction engineers. Derived from C.B.--Navy construction battalion. Pg. 520

SEA HUTS: Southeast Asia huts. Standard-designed buildings of corrigated tin roofs; walls of horizontal-louvered boards four feet up from the bottom, and screen from the bottom to the roof inside; some were on concrete pads and some were on blocks; some had sandbags around them about 30 inches from the wall and waist high; you could walk inside the sandbags from door to door; wooden walkways between buildings so you didn't have to walk in mud; a few sandbags were place on the roofs to keep them from blowing away in a hurricane.

There were literally tens of thousands of these buildings all over Vietnam and Thailand being used for everything from offices to living quarters to clubs to BXs to "you name it."

SEAL: Navy special-warfare force members. Pg. 520

SEARCH AND CLEAR: offensive military operations to sweep through areas to locate and attack the enemy. Pg. 520

SEARCH AND DESTROY: offensive operations designed to find and destroy enemy forces rather than establish permanent government control; also, called "Zippo missions." Pg. 520

In '69, while with the Big Red One, we received a directive that we were no longer allowed to use the term "search and destroy" to refer to our missions. We were told to use the term "reconnaissance-in-force" or RIF. We generally thought of this as chicken sh*t!!

SEMPER FI: short for "Semper Fidelis," Latin for "Always Faithful."

SERETTE: little disposable needle with morphine.

SEVENTEENTH PARALLEL: temporary division line between North and South Vietnam established by the Geneva Accords of 1954. Pg. 520

SFTG: Special Forces Training Group.

SHACKLE: encrypt, a method of encoding sensitive information, such as unit locations, in order to be able to send the information by radio.

SHADOW: C-119 gunship - 7.62 and/or 20mm mini guns mounted in side windows.

SHAKE'nBAKE: an officer straight out of OCS (Officer Candidate School) without any combat experience.

SHELL: artillery projectile.

SHIT: a catchall multipurpose term, ie, a firefight was 'in the shit', a bad situation was 'deep shit', to be well prepared and alert was to have your 'shit wired tight.'

SHITHOOK: slang for a Chinook Helicopter.

SHORT ORBIT: aircraft circling to land; small, close orbit by aircraft overhead.

SHORT, SHORT-TIME, SHORT-TIMER: individual with little time remaining in Vietnam. Pg. 520

An expression which indicated you were close to your Fini Flight and the Freedom Bird. In your last couple of weeks, you were so "short" you were invisible.

SHOTGUN/SHOTGUNNER: armed guard on or in a vehicle who watches for enemy activity and returns fire if attacked. Also a door gunner on a helicopter. Pg. 520

SIN LOI, MINOI: too bad, honey. (see "XIN LOI.")


SIT-REP: situation report.

SIX: from aviation jargon: "my 6 o'clock"--directly behind me; hence, my back--cover my back or rear of operation.

Also infantry term for Commanding Officer

SIX TYPE: a medic; Doc.

SKATE: goof off.

SKYRAIDER: Douglas A1-H aircraft, single propeller aircraft used for Close Air Support (CAS).

SKY PILOT: Navy Chaplain.

SKYSPOT: Ground directed bombing conducted by the 1st Combat Evaluation Group of the Strategic Air Command. Directed and released ordinance from B-52, B-57 F-4 and other aircraft of the US, Austrailian and RVN. Ground sites were located on Vietnam and Thailand.

SLACK MAN: second man in a patrol, behind the POINTMAN.

SLEEPER: an undercover agent or a mole.

SLICK: helicopter used to lift troops or cargo with only protective armaments systems. Pg. 520. Also, see Huey Slick.

The Vietnam War became a helicopter war for American forces, and a common way for an infantryman to go into action was by "Slick." "Slick" was the term used to refer to an assault helicopter used to place troops into combat during airmobile operations. The UH-1 became the premier helicopter for this. Troops could ride in the wide doors of the aircraft, normally in two rows on each side, and could exit quickly when landing in a "hot LZ"--a landing zone under fire. Often a UH-1 would not touch down during "Slick" operations; instead, it would hover a couple of feet above the ground while troops evacuated the aircraft. Troops learned to feel the UH-1 "bounce" as it came in quickly and went into a hover, and would exit on the bounce, so that Slicks spent very little time close to the ground. Pg. 417

SLOPE: a derogatory term used to refer to any Asian.

SLOW MOVER: propeller driven AF fighter aircraft.

SNAFU: Situation Normal All Fucked Up

SNAKE: Snake-Eye bombs used for close air support, as in "Snake N' Nape" (bombs and napalm).

SNAKE: in reference to the AH-1G Cobra.

SNEAKY PETES: U.S. Army Special Forces or Rangers. Pg. 521

SNOOP 'N' POOP: Marine search and destroy offensive mission. Pg. 521

SNOOPY: this was a mission flown often in Nam (129th Assault Helicopter Co.). One ship flew at tree-top level, trying to draw enemy fire from hidden troops (this was "Snoopy"). The second ship (at high elevation) would then observe where the shots came from and dive and attack. These were Snoopy Missions.

SNUFFY: was/is the term Marines use in the same way Army calls themselves grunts. This term's footnoted in one of the major books on Khe Sahn and was in common use in I Corps (1/67-7/68).

It has triple meaning to Marines: 1. to snuff is the mission, 2. we don't grunt under our loads, and 3. a wry reference to the historical willingness of Marine leaders to expend their lives for what may seem like small gains (arising from the fact that this small service just doesn't have the logistical ability to throw much ordnance on an objective beforehand).

It is a most fundamental term.

SOG: Studies and Observations Group. Pg. 521. Also, Special Operations Group.

SORTIE: one aircraft making one takeoff and landing to conduct the mission for which it was scheduled. Pg. 521

SOS: "Shit On A Shingle." Creamed meat on toast.

SPC-(4,6,...): Specialist Rank, having no command function.

SPECIAL FORCES OR SF: U.S. Army soldiers; also called "Green Berets," trained in techniques of guerrilla warfare. Pg. 520

SPOOKY: C-47 gunship - 7.62 mini guns mounted in side windows.

SQUAD: a squad is a basic organizational institution in the United States Army and Marine Corps. A sergeant usually commands the squad, and the squad is composed of two teams of four men each. A tank and its crew is considered the squad for an armored unit, as is the howitzer or gun and its crew in an artillery unit. Pg. 427

STAND-DOWN: period of rest and refitting in which all operational activity, except for security, is stopped. Pg. 521

STAY BEHIND (LEAVE BEHIND): ambush tactic wherein a small group is left behind after a unit breaks camp in order to ambush enemy sweeping thru the 'deserted' area.

STANSIONS: stabilizing devices.

STARBOARD: on the right when facing forward.

STARLIGHT: night-vision telescope, used by snipers and basecamp defense troops to see in the dark.

STERILIZED: restore a site to its original condition before moving out of it, particularly if there was a more than remote possiblility of enemy troops coming across where American troops had been.

This included not leaving any C-ration cans, bending bushes back that may have been leaned on, brushing the ground free of footprints or other impressions left by sitting or lying, etc. This was not always possible; but it was worth the effort because 6 (and even 10) men could be, and often where, outnumbered. Success (survival) depended upon not being discovered by their counterparts.

STERN: back of a ship or boat.

STOL: short takeoff and landing. C-123 and C-130 aircraft were noted for using little runway when not over-loaded.

STRAP HANGER: comes from the Airborne--someone who is not a part/regular member of the organization/team but is along for the ride.

SWIFT BOAT: U.S. Navy patrol boat, designated PCF (patrol craft fast), part of operation Market Time, used to patrol coastal waters and rivers of Vietnam.

III MAF: III Marine Amphibious Force. Pg. 521

2.75: diameter of the side (pod) mounted rockets carried on all older "D" model Huey gunships and the newer Cobras.

TAILBOOM: the back 1/3 of a Huey.

TALLY-HO: or just "Tally" - acknowlegement by a pilot that he had visually acquired another aircraft or ground target which had been called to his attention.

TANGO BOAT: Armored Troop Carrier (ATC). Sorta like an APC that really did float, but didn't do so good on land. The originals were LCM-6s with armor plate and bar armor added. They had nine seats for the troops and a canvas top to keep the sun out. Each tango could carry a fully equipped rifle platoon. They had two twin .50 cal. machine gun mounts on and a canvas top to keep the sun out. Each tango could carry a fully equipped rifle platoon. They had two twin .50 cal. machine gun mounts on the boat deck and four Browning .30 cal. light machine guns rechambered for NATO 7.62 mm in the well deck. In 1968 the Navy deployed two new river assault squadrons with tango boats built from the keel up specifically for riverine operation.

TEE-TEE: Vietnamese term for "A little bit."

TET: Vietnamese Lunar New Year holiday period. Pg. 521. Also refers to the nationwide NVA-VC offensive that began during Tet, 1968.

TFES: (pronounced TEFF US). Territorial Forces Evaluation System.

MACV-CORDS computer program designed to monitor the strength, size, location and effectiveness of the RF/PFs. Input supplied by MACV Advisors.


THUD: F-105 aircraft.

THUNDER ROAD: Highway 13, from Saigon to Loc Ninh, known for many mines, ambushes, etc.

THUMPER (THUMPGUN): M-79 grenade launcher.

TIGER BALM: a foul-smelling oil used by many Vietnamese to ward off evil spirits.

TOC: Tactical Operations Center.

TOMMY-GUN: .45cal, Thompson sub-machinegun, fully automatic shoulder fired weapon.

TONKIN: northern section of Vietnam. Pg. 522

TONKIN GULF YACHT CLUB: the U.S. Navy in operations offshore of both North and South Vietnam.

TOT: 'Time On Target,' multi-battery artillery tactic to provide massive destruction instantaneously.

TRI-BORDER: in SEA, the area where Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos meet.

TRIP-WIRE: thin wire used by both sides strung across an area someone may walk through.Usually attached to a mine, flare, or booby trap.

TRIPLE CANOPY: thick jungle, plants growing at 3 levels - ground level, intermediate, and high levels.

TRUNG WEE: sergeant.

TU DAI: a big concern in country was booby traps. The VC used to warn the locals of booby trapped areas by posting little wooden signs with those words on it just at the edge of the wood line. Ironically it was pronounced "To Die." The term "Tu Dai Area" was used in sit-reps.

TWO DIGIT NUMBERS: used at Cam Ranh Bay Air Base in 1969/70. Meant less then one hundred days to that freedom bird out of Vietnam. Everyone in the Security Police Squardron would say it everytime someone asked "How's it going."

UA: unauthorized absence. (See "AWOL")

USAF: United States Air Force.

USAID: U.S. Agency for International Development. Pg. 522

USARPAC: United States Army, Pacific. Pg. 522

USARV: United States Army, Vietnam. Pg. 522

USCG: Unites States Coast Guard.

USMC: United States Marine Corps.

USN: United States Navy.

USO: United Service Organization.

VC, CONG: Vietcong. Pgs. 522 & 507

VCI: Viet Cong Infrastructure.

The VC's cadre. VC leaders, guides, ammo, and food storage site providers, safe house providers and local tacticianers. "Render Ineffective the VCI" was the second of eight pacification program goals for 1969. The "Phoenix Program" grew out of this effort.

VFW: Veterans of Foreign Wars.

VHPA: Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association.

VIETCONG: Communist forces fighting the South Vietnamese government. Pg. 522

VIETMINH: Viet Nam Doc Lap Dong Minh Hoi or the Vietnamese Independence League. Pg. 522

VIETNAM SERVICE MEDAL: (front and back)


After watching the film "The Deer Hunter" in 1979, Vietnam Veteran Jan C. Scruggs first conceived of the idea for a Vietnam Veterans Memorial. A Yale architectural student, Maya Lin, submitted the winning design.

The Memorial was built in Constitution Gardens in Washington, D.C., through private donations from the public, and dedicated in 1982.

The Memorial is referred to as "The Wall."


Diane Carlson Evans, RN, is the founder of this Memorial project. She served in the Army Nurse Corps from 1966 to 1972 and was in Vietnam from 1968-69.

The sculptor is Glenna Goodacre, who created the Women's Memorial in bronze.

The Memorial was dedicated over the Veterans Day weekend of November 10-12, 1993, and stands near "The Wall."

VILLE (VILL): ostensibly "village" but used to refer to any group of hooches.

VN: Vietnam.

VNAF: Vietnamese Air Force.

VT: Variable Time artillery fuze, incorporated a small radar transceiver, used to obtain a reliable 20 meter airburst.

VVA: Vietnam Veterans of America. Pg. 522

WAKEY: the last day in country before going home.

WALLABEE: an Australian Caribou aircraft.

WART HOG: A-10 aircraft. So slanged due to its 'ugly' appearance.

WATCHER: enemy.

WEB GEAR: canvas belt and shoulder straps used for packing equipment and ammunition on infantry operations. Pg. 523

WESPAC: Navy and Coast Guard terms for Western Pacific operations, which extended to the Asian Pacific. A WESPAC tour, then, was a tour of duty in the Western Pacific, generally synonomous with service in/around Vietnam.

WHITE MICE: South Vietnamese police. The nickname came from their uniform white helmets and gloves. Pg. 523

WIA: Wounded In Action.


popular nicknames for white phosphorus mortar or
artillery rounds or grenades. Pg. 523

Also, rockets used by FACs to mark placement for bomb runs.

WO: Warrant Officer.

WOBBLY ONE: Warrant Officer, Grade W1.

WOC: Warrant Officer Candidate.

(THE) WORLD: the United States Pg. 523

Any place outside of Vietnam.

WWII: World War II.

XIN LOI or XOINE LOI: pronounced by GIs as "Sin Loy," meaning 'too bad,' 'tough shit,' 'sorry bout that.' The literal translation is "excuse me."

XM-203: fired the 40mm shells, fit on the M-16.

YARDS: Montagnard soldiers. Pg. 523

ZIPPO: flamethrower. Pg. 523. Also refers to the popular cigarette lighter of that brandname.

ZIPPO BOATS: LCMs with flame throwers.

ZIPPO MISSION: search and destroy mission. Pg. 523

ZONE AND SWEEP: artillery tactic/fire pattern to cover a target with an "X" pattern of fire.

ZULU: casualty report, also the phonetic pronunciation of the letter 'Z.'