AH-1: Cobra Attack helicopter, introduced to Vietnam in August, 1967.
AIT: Advanced Individual Training. AIT started shortly after graduation from boot camp and encompassed a very wide variety of jobs including cooks, clerks, engineers, artillery, infantry, mechanics, communications, radar, supply, etc.
AK-47: Kalishnikov rifle. Basic infantry weapon of the North Vietnamese Army and the Vietcong.
A-O: area of operations.
ARVN: Army, Republic of Vietnam. Our South Vietnamese allies.
ATSB: Advanced Tactical Support Base.
AWOL: Absent without leave.
B-40: A shoulder held RPG (rocket propelled grenade) launcher. Used by the VC and NVA.
B-52: an amazingly adaptable bomber capable of high and low altitude missions with a bomb load of up to eighty-four 500 lb. bombs internally and twenty-four 750 lb. bombs externally.
BA-30: dry cell flashlight battery; “D” size
BA-MA-BA: Vietnamese “33” beer. Also known as “Tiger Piss.”
BASE CAMP: a semipermanent field headquarters.
BATTALION: 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.
BCT: Basic Combat Training. Sometimes refered to as Boot Camp or Basic.
BEEHIVE: a direct-fire artillery round which incorporated hundreds of small steel darts (fleshettes). Used as a primary base defense munition against ground attack.
BERM: a rise in the ground such as dikes or a dirt parapet around fortifications.
BIRD DOG: O-1 Aircraft. Usually used by forward air observers.
BODY BAG: A black plastic bag used to transport dead personnel.
BOHICA: “Bend Over, Here It Comes Again.” Usually describing another undesirable assignment.
BOOKOO: (beaucoup) French term for “many.”
BOOM BOOM: prostitution.
BRIGADE: Army unit smaller than a division.
BUF: Big Ugly Fucker. Slang for the B-52 bomber.
BUTTER BAR: a brand new 2nd Lieutenant.
C-4: a very stable plastic explosive carried by infantry soldiers. Also used as a substitute for Sterno cooking fuel.
C-47: military version of the venerable DC-3 aircraft. Sometimes equipped with side-firing miniguns (AC-47).
CARE PACKAGE: Goodies from home!
CASE OF THE ASS: phrase used to express anger or disgust, as in, “I’ve got a case of the ass.” Sometimes used in an abbreviated form such as, “I’ve got the ass” or, “That [person, situation] really gives me the ass.”
CHARM SCHOOL: 3-day familiarization course for newly arrived personnel.
CHERRY: a new troop replacement.
CHIEU HOI: “Open Arms” program that offered amnesty to VC defectors.
CHOKE: C-ration peanut butter.
CLAYMORE: a popular, fan-shaped, antipersonnel land mine.
COBRA: see AH-1
COMPANY: usually about 4 platoons.
CONTACT: fighting with the enemy.
CONUS: continental United States.
CORPS: two or more divisions.
C’s: C-rations, C-rats — canned meals.
CS GAS: military equivalent of tear gas.
DEROS: date eligible for return from overseas.
DAISEY CUTTER: a 10,000 lb. bomb dropped by a C-130 to clear an LZ.
DEUCE AND A HALF: 10-wheel truck with a 2½ ton capacity.
DI DI MAU: move quickly.
DINKY DAO: crazy.
DIVISION: an Army unit large enough to sustain combat.
DMZ: demilitarized zone.
DOC: affectionate title for enlisted medical aidman or medic.
DONUT DOLLY: Women from the American Red Cross.
1-A; eligible to serve.
2-S; student deferment.
4-F; medically unable to serve.
4-A; military obligation fullfilled.
DUFFLEBAG: the oblong, unwieldy bag in which troops stored all their gear.
DUSTOFF: A Medivac operation by helicopter.
DX: Direct exchange; to turn in old or damaged gear and equipment for new.
E-1, E-2, E-3, etc: enlisted grades
ELECTRIC STRAWBERRY: nickname for the 25th Infantry Division shoulder emblem.
ETS: estimated termination of service. The day you got out of the Army.
FAC: forward air controller.
FAST MOVER: jet fighter.
FATIGUES: standard combat uniform.
FIRE BASE or FB: sometimes called a fire support base. Temporary artillery firing position often secured by infantry. See FSB.
FIRECRACKER: artillery round incorporating many small bomblets.
FIRE FOR EFFECT: continual firing at the enemy.
FIRE MISSION: an artillery mission.
FIRST-SHIRT: the First-Sergeant.
FLAK JACKET: heavy fiber-glassed filled vest worn for schrapnel protection.
FLARE: illumination projectile.
FNG: “Fucking New Guy.” Newly arrived personnel.
FRAGGING: The term fragging is used to describe the deliberate killing or attempted killing by a soldier of a fellow soldier, usually a superior officer or non-commissioned officer (NCO).
FREE FIRE ZONE: any area in which permission was not required prior to firing on targets.
FREEDOM BIRD: any aircraft that took you back to the “world” (USA). In most cases, it was a chartered DC-8.
FRIENDLY FIRE: Euphemism used to describe air, artillery or small-arms fire from American forces mistakenly directed at American positions.
FSB: Fire Support Base, usually consisting of an infantry company and howitzer battery.
FTA: Fuck the Army!
FUBAR: Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition. Describes a bad situation.
GOMERS: North Vietnamese.
GUN BUNNY: Member of a Howitzer gun crew.
GUNG HO: very enthusiastic and committed.
HOI CHANH: VC or NVA soldier who took advantage of the “Open Arms” program. A defector.
HO CHI MINH TRAIL: network of trails that began in North Vietnam, went through Laos and ended in Cambodia and South Vietnam.
HOOCH: living quarters.
HUEY: nickname for UH series helicopters.
III CORPS: military region between Saigon and the Highlands.
INCOMING: receiving enemy mortar or rocket fire.
IN COUNTRY: to be in Vietnam.
IN THE FIELD: any area outside of a town or base camp.
JODY: generic name for the guy back home who was trying to steal your girlfriend.
KIA: killed in action.
KLICK: kilometer (.62 miles).
KP: kitchen police. Washing dishes, etc.
LIFER: a derogatory term generally used by draftees to describe career soldiers.
LOACH: Light Observation Helicopter, usually an OH-6 (Hughes 500C).
LZ: landing zone.
M-14: rifle used by U.S. troops until it was replaced by the M-16.
M-16: standard American rifle used in Vietnam after 1966.
M-60: machine gun of 7.62mm, American made.
M-79: grenade launcher. Sometimes referred to as “Thumper.”
MACV: Military Assistance Command Vietnam.
MIA: Missing In Action.
MOS: Military Occupational Speciality; job title.
MPC: military payment certificate. All denominations were paper; nickels, dimes, quarters, dollars.
Napalm: thickened gasoline that burns whatever it sticks to. Usually dropped by aircraft on enemy positions.
NCO: Non Commissioned Officer.
NUMBER ONE: good.
NUMBER TEN: bad.
NUOC MAM: fermented fish sauce. Very foul smelling to foreigners.
NVA: North Vietnamese Army.
105: 105mm howitzer.
107: 107mm rocket. Used by the VC and NVA.
122: 122mm rocket. Used by the VC and NVA.
155: 155mm howitzer.
P-38: can opener.
PAPA-SAN: elderly Vietnamese man.
PBR: acronym for Patrol Boat, River.
PIASTER: Vietnamese money.
PLATOON: part of a company, usually comprised of several squads.
PONCHO LINER: nylon insert for rain poncho. Often used as a blanket.
POW: prisoner of war.
PSP: Perforated Steel Plate. Used as temporary airstrips, bunker roof reinforcements, etc.
PUNJI-STICKS: sharpened bamboo stakes, usually placed in concealed pits to cause injury to someone unfortunate enough to fall in. The stakes were sometimes coated with feeces to cause infection in the wounds.
PX: Post Exchange; a store for the troops.
RA: Service number prefix for an enlistee (see US).
REGIMENT: Army unit smaller than a division.
REMF: Rear Echelon Mother Fucker. A very derogatory term for those serving in rear areas. Used in a relative sense.
RE-UP: To re-enlist in the Army. This was a very unpopular notion with most draftees.
RPG: Rocket propelled grenade. See B-40.
RTO: Radio/Telephone Operator.
SAME-SAME: Same as…
SAPPERS: NVA or VC demolition commandos.
SEA: Southeast Asia.
SEABEES: Naval construction engineers.
SELECTIVE SERVICE: Draft Board. Imposed conscription on eligible young men.
SHELL: artillery projectile.
SHORT!: expression used by a short-timer.
SHORT-TIMER: an individual with little time left in Vietnam.
SINH LOI: sorry about that!
SKATE: goof off.
SKYRAIDER: Douglas A1-H single engine propeller aircraft used for Close Air Support (CAS).
SNAFU: Situation Normal, All Fucked Up.
SOS: Shit On a Shingle; creamed meat on toast.
SPOOKY: AC-47 gunship with 3 side-firing 7.62mm miniguns. Sometimes called “Puff.”
SQUAD: the smallest Army unit comprising of perhaps 10 soldiers.
STEAM & CREAM: sauna/massage parlor, sometimes with extra “services.”
STOL: short takeoff and landing.
SUBSISTENCE PACKAGE: Enough incidental items to supply 100 troops in the field for one day, or 20 troops for 5 days, etc. Items included bar soap, cigarettes, pipe tobacco, pipe cleaners, lighter fluid, flints, writing paper and envelopes, pens, tropical candy, and so on.
THUMPER: M-79 grenade launcher.
TI-TI: A little.
TICKET PUNCHER: A career military officer or NCO whose primary concern is personal advancement. A common practice was to temporarily leave a rear area job and spend a few weeks in the field with the troops for the sole purpose of gaining decorations and awards such as the coveted CIB (Combat Infantry Badge).
TOC: Tactical Operations Center.
UH-1: First deployed to Vietnam in 1963, the Iroqouis (more commonly called the “Huey”) saw service in many variations that included MedEvac, command and control, air assault, personnel and material transport and as gun ships.
US: Service number prefix for a draftee (see RA).
WIA: wounded in action.
WILLIE PETER: nickname for white phosphorus mortar rounds, artillery rounds or grenades.