4-F: U.S. draft classification given to those deemed unfit for military service
50 (or 50-cal): .50 caliber machine gun
51-cal: heavy machine gun used by the enemy; the 12.7 mm Communist Bloc Heavy Machine Gun
60 (or M60): the M60A1 7.62 mm machine gun carried by U.S. Infantry; also called "The Pig".
60 mm (or 60 Mike Mike): 60 mm light mortar used by U.S. Marines
79: the M-79 40 mm grenade launcher
81 mm: 81 mm mortar
82 mm: a mortar used by the enemy
105: 105-mm howitzer
155: 155-mm howitzer
175: 175-mm howitzer
201 file: a U.S. Army personnel file
AAR: after-action report
AC: aircraft commander
ACTING JACK: (or AJ): a person of lower rank temporarily holding the position of sergeant or above and authorized on special orders to wear the rank insignia.
Actual: the unit commander. Used to distinguish the commander from the radioman when the call sign is used.
ADSID: air-delivered seismic intruder-detection device; microphone and transmitter dropped into suspect areas
Advance Guard Youth: Vietnamese student social and sports organization that evolved into a non-Communist nationalist movement by 1945.
Advanced Individual Training: specialized training taken after Basic Training, also referred to as Advanced Infantry Training
AFVN: Armed Forced Vietnam Network radio station
Agency: the Central Intelligence Agency
AGL: above level ground
A-gunner: assistant gunner
AHB: assault helicopter battalion
AID: Agency for International Development
Airborne: refers to soldiers who are qualified as parachutists
Air Cav: air cavalry; helicopter-borne infantry; helicopter gunship assault teams
Airmobile: helicopter-borne infantry
AIT: advanced infantry training
AK-47: Soviet-manufactured Kalashnikov semi-automatic and fully automatic combat assault rifle, 7.62-mm; the basic weapon of the Communist forces. Known as the Type 56 to the Chinese, it is characterized by an explosive popping sound.
AK-50: newer version of the AK-47. Some have a permanently mounted "illegal" triangular bayonet,
which leaves a sucking wound that will not close.
Alpha: military phonetic for the letter 'A'
Alpha-Alpha: automatic ambush, a combination of claymore mines configured to detonate simultaneously when triggered by a trip-wire/battery mechanism
Ammo dump: location where live or expended ammunition is stored
Amtrack: U.S. Marine amphibious armored vehicle used to transport troops and supplies, armed with a .30-caliber machine gun
Angel track: an armored personnel carrier used as an aid station
AO: area of operations
AOD: administrative officer on duty
Ao-dai: traditional dress of Vietnamese women. A brightly colored silk top worn over loose fitting silk trousers.
APB: armored patrol boat used in riverine operations..
APC: M113-series armored personnel carrier. A tracked vehicle used to transport Army troops or supplies, usually armed with a .50-caliber machine gun.
ACAV: armored cavalry assault vehicle. An APC (M113A1) modified for use as a fighting vehicle with turret armor for the track commander, gun shield for the .50-caliber machine gun and two side mounted gun shields and mounts for M60 machines.
ACV: air cushion vehicle used in riverine operations.
APL: barracks ship
APO: Army post office located in San Francisco for overseas mail to Vietnam.
AR: Army regulation
ARA: aerial rocket artillery. A Cobra AG-1H helicopter with four XM-159C 19-rocket (2.75 inch) pods.
Arc light: code name for B-52 bombers strikes along the Cambodian-Vietnamese border. These operations shook earth for ten miles away from the target area.
ARCOMS: Army Commendation Medals
Article 15: section of the Uniform Military Code of Justice. A form of non-judicial punishment.
Arty: shorthand term for artillery
Arvin: soldier in the ARVN, or the ARVN itself
ARVN: Army of the Republic of Vietnam; the South Vietnamese Regular Army
A-team: basic ten man team of the U.S. Special Forces. The A-teams often led irregular military units which were not responsible to the Vietnamese military command.
ATC: armored troop carrier used in riverine operations.
AWOL: absent without leave; leaving a post or position without official permission
Azimuth: a bearing from North
B-40 rocket: a shoulder-held rocket-propelled grenade launcher
B-52: U.S. Air Force high-altitude bomber; also, slang for a can opener
Ba: married woman; used as a title, like "Mrs."
Bac bac: bastardized Vietnamese for "to shoot"
Bac-si: doctor; also used to refer to medic in the U.S. Army
Ballgame: an operation or a contact
Ba Mu'o'i Ba: brand name of a Vietnamese beer
Banana clip: banana shaped magazine, standard on the AK-47 assault rifle
bandoliers: belts of machine gun ammunition
BAR: Browning automatic rifle. A .30-caliber magazine-fed automatic rifle used by U.S. troops during World War II and Korea.
Base camp: a resupply base for field units and a location for headquarters of brigade or division size units, artillery batteries and air fields. Also known as the rear area.
Basic: basic training
Bac si de: home-brewed rice whiskey
Basketball: an illumination-dropping aircraft mission, capable of lighting approximately a square mile of terrain
Battalion: a military unit usually consisting of a headquarters and headquarters company and two or more companies, troops, batteries, or similar units
Battery: an artillery unit equivalent to a company. Six 105mm or 155mm howitzers or two 8-inch or 175mm self-propelled howitzers.
Battle-sight zeroing: process of adjusting a weapon's sights and windage to an individual soldier so the weapon, when fired, will hit the object of aim.
BCD: bad conduct discharge
BDA: bomb damage assessment
Beans and dicks: military C-ration hot dogs and beans
Beans and motherfuckers: military C-ration lima beans and ham
Beaten zone: area where the majority of bullets will strike when a machine gun is laid-in to cover a part of a defensive perimeter or part of an ambush zone.
Beehive round: an explosive artillery shell which delivered thousands of small projectiles, "like nails with fins," instead of shrapnel.
Berm: perimeter line of a fortification; usually raised above surrounding area
Big Boys: artillery; slang for tanks
Big Red One: nickname for the 1st Infantry Division
Binh Xuyen: the organized crime syndicate that controlled much of the Vietnamese underworld and Saigon police until deposed by Diem's forces in 1955.
Bird: any aircraft, but usually refers to helicopters
Bird dog: forward air controller, usually in a small, maneuverable single-engined prop airplane
BK amputee: below-the-knee amputation of the leg
Blood trail: a trail of blood on the ground left by a fleeing man who has been wounded
Blooper: the M-79 grenade launcher. A 40-millimeter, shotgunlike weapon that shoots spin-armed "balls" or small grenades.
Blue feature: any water feature. So called because of the color used to designate water on topographic maps.
Blueleg: infantryman, a.k.a. "grunt"
Body bag: plastic bag used to transport dead bodies from the field
Body count: the number of enemy killed, wounded, or captured during an operation. The term was used by Washington and Saigon as a means of measuring the progress of the war.
Boo-coo: bastardized French, from beaucoup, meaning "much" or "many".
Boondoggle: any military operation that hasn't been completely thought out. An operation that is absurd or useless.
Boonie hat: soft hat worn by a boonierat in the boonies
Boonierat: a combat infantryman
Boonies: infantry term for the field; jungles or swampy areas far from the comforts of civilization
Boot: a soldier just out of boot camp; inexperienced, untested
BOQ: bachelor officer quarters; living quarters for officers
Bouncing Betty: antipersonnel mine with two charges: the first propels the explosive charge upward, and
the other is set to explode at about waist level.
Bowl: pipe used for smoking dope
Bravo: military phonetic for the letter 'B'
Bravo: Army designation for the infantry man
Breaking squelch: disrupting the natural static of a radio by depressing the transmit bar on another radio set to the same frequency
Brigade: 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.
Bring smoke: to direct intense artillery fire on an enemy position
Bro: a black soldier; also, at times, boonierats from the same unit
Bronco: twin-engine observation aircraft equipped with rockets and miniguns
Bronze Star: U.S. military decoration awarded for heroic or meritorious service not involving aerial flights
Brother: a fellow black Marine; sometimes used as slang for all black males
Brown bar: a lieutenant; denotes the single bar of the rank. In the field, officers wore camouflage rank
which was often brown or black instead of brass.
Brown Water Navy: term applied to the U.S. Navy units assigned to the inland boat patrols of the Mekong
BS: bullshit, as in chewing the fat, telling tall tales, or telling lies
Buckle: to fight. "Buckle for your dust" means to fight furiously
Bummer: bad luck, a real drag
Bush: infantry term for the field
Bust caps: Marine Corps term for firing a rifle rapidly
Butter bar: see brown bar
C-4: plastic, putty textured explosive carried by infantry soldiers. It burns like sterno when lit, and was used to heat C-rations in the field.
C-7: small cargo airplane; the Caribou.
C-54: largest of the American helicopters, strictly for cargo. Also called Flying Crane or Skycrane.
C-123: small cargo airplane; the Provider.
C-130: large propeller-driven Air Force planes that carry people and cargo; the Hercules
C-141: The Lockheed C-141 Starlifter is the "workhorse" of the Air Mobility Command. The jet aircraft was introduced in 1963 to meet military standards as a troop and cargo carrier. It carries either 200 troops, 155 paratroops, 103 litters and 14 seats, or 68,725 lbs (31,239 kilograms) of cargo.
CA: combat assault. The term is used to describe dropping troopers into a hot LZ
Cache: hidden supplies
Camies: World War II term for camouflage uniforms
Can cuoc: an identification card
C&C: command and control helicopter used by reconnaissance or unit commanders
Can Lao: the powerful semisecret political party of the Diem government headed by Ngo Dinh Nhu, Diem's brother. It permeated the entire administrative, intelligence, and defense structures of South Vietnam.
Cao Dai: a religious and political sect formed in the 1920s by a group of South Vietnamese intellectuals, combining the three major religions of Vietnam --Buddhism, Confucianism, and Christianity -- with the worship of Vietnamese and Western heroes. With a strength of more that 1,500,000 followers, groups of Cao Dai still waged a stubborn resistance war against the Communists (especially in Tay Ninh Province) even after the U.S. troop withdrawal.
CAP: civil action program. U.S. military personnel working with Vietnamese civilians.
Capping: shooting at
CAR-15: a carbine rifle
Carbine: a short-barreled, lightweight automatic or semiautomatic rifle
Caribou: small transport plane for moving men and material
Cav: Cavalry; the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile)
CC: company commander
CG: commanding general
Chao: hello or goodby, depending upon the context
Charlie: military phonetic for the letter 'C"
Charlie: Viet Cong; the enemy
Chas: Viet Cong; the enemy
Cheap Charlie: GI who is frugal with his money while in a bar
Cherry: slang term for youth and inexperience; a virgin
Chicken Plate: chest protector (body armor) worn by helicopter gunners
Chicom: Chinese communist
Chicom mine: Chinese mine; can be made of plastic
Chieu Hoi: the "open arms" program, promising clemency and financial aid to Viet Cong and NVA soldiers and cadres who stopped fighting and returned to South Vietnamese government authority.
Chinook: CH-47 cargo helicopter
Choi oi: exclamation of surprise
Chop chop: slang for food
Chopper: slang for "helicopter".
Chuck: term used by black marines to identify white individuals; often derogatory
Chuck: the Viet Cong; the enemy
Church key: bottle opener
CIB: combat infantry badge. The Army award for serving as an Infantryman in a combat zone for 30 days or more, or for being wounded while serving as an Infantrytman in combat.
CIDG: civilian irregular defense groups
CINCPAC: commander in chief of all American forces in the Pacific region; based at Camp Smith, Hawaii.
Civilian Irregular Defense Group: American financed, irregular military units which were led by members of Special Forces A-teams. Members of these units were Vietnamese nationals, but were usually members of ethnic minorities in the country.
Clacker: a small hand-held firing device for a claymore mine
Claymore: an antipersonnel mine carried by the infantry which, when detonated, propelled small steel cubes in a 60-degree fan-shaped pattern to a maximum range of 100 meters
Clearance: permission from both military and political authorities to engage the enemy in a particular area
Clutch belt: cartridge belt worn by Marines
CMH: Congressional Medal of Honor. The highest U.S. military decoration awarded for conspicuous gallantry at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty.
Co: unmarried woman; used as a title, like "Miss"
CO: commanding officer
Cobra: an AH-1G attack helicopter. Also known as a gunship, armed with rockets and machine guns.
Cochin-china: the French name for its southern Vietnam colony, encompassing the III Corps and Mekong Delta rice-producing lowlands, which earlier was part of Cambodia.
Co Cong: female Viet Cong members
Code of Conduct: military rules for U.S. soldiers taken prisoner by the enemy
Comics: topographic maps
Commo: shorthand for "communications"
Commo bunker: bunker containing vital communications equipment. Usually included in the last redoubt of established defensive positions.
Commo wire: communications wire
Company: a military unit usually consisting of a headquarters and two or more platoons
Compound: a fortified military installation
Concertina wire: coiled barbed wire used as an obstacle
Conex container: corrugated metal packing crate for standard transport by sea, air or land vehicles, usually 6 feet wide, 8 feet high and available in standard lengths.
Contact: firing on or being fired upon by the enemy
CONUS: continental United States
CORDS: civil operations and revolutionary development support. Created by civilian administration, MACV, and the CIA to coordinate American pacification efforts.
COSVN: central office of South Vietnam. Communist headquarters for military and political action in South Vietnam.
Counterinsurgency: antiguerrilla warfare
Country team: the staff and personnel of an American embassy assigned to a particular country
Co van: advisor. American assigned to Vietnamese military units or to political division within the country to help direct and train Vietnamese military and civilian officials.
CRACKER BOX: field ambulance
coxwain flat: the area where the coxwain (driver) stands when he steers a boat or ship
CP: command post
CP pills (Chloraquine-Primaquine): the large orange anti-malarial pills (the "yellow" in "two whites and a yellow"). Due to CP resistant malaria in the Cntral Highlands, Dapsone (the "whites") was also used.
CQ: charge of quarters. An officer officially in charge of a unit headquarters at night.
C-rations: combat rations. Canned meals for use in the field. Each usually consisted of a can of some basic course, a can of fruit, a packet of some type of dessert, a packet of powdered coca, a small pack of cigarettes, and two pieces of chewing gum.
Crispy critters: burn victims
CS: a riot-control gas which burns the eyes and mucus membranes
Cumshaw: unofficial trading, begging, bartering, or stealing from other branches of the service
Cyclo: motorized rickshaw
DA: Department of the Army
Dac Cong: Viet Cong special forces
Dai Doan Ket: Party of Great Solidarity. Organized in 1954 to unify the non-Communist nationalist organizations in South Vietnam in the period before Ngo Dinh Diem came to full power. Headed by Diem's brother, Ngo Dinh Nhu, this was the forerunner of the Can Lao.
Daily-daily: daily anti-malarial pill
Dai uy: captain
Dai Viet: formed in 1930 as a non-Communist revolutionary and political organization throughout Vietnam. Though more widespread and with a larger membership than Ho Chi Minh's Viet Minh or Lao Dong Party, the Dai Viets were fragmented into regional factions. The assassination of Truong Tu Anh, the Dai Viet leader, in 1946 by Ho's agents further fragmented the Dai Viets. By the mid-1960s the Dai Viets had evolved into two major parties that both played key roles in opposing or supporting the various South Vietnamese governments. Since 1975, there has been severe repression against Dai Viet members, some of whom still carry on resistance to the Communist government.
Dap: handshake and greeting which may last up to ten minutes and is characterized by the use of both hands and often comprised of slaps and snaps of the fingers. Used by black soldiers, highly ritualized and unit specific.
Dapsone pills: the small white anti-malarial pills (the "whites" in "two whites and a yellow") used in the Central Highlands with CP pills to counter falcipium-resistant strains of mosquitos.
DCI: the Director of the CIA
DEFCON: Defense Readiness Condition. A uniform system of progressive alert postures for use between the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the commanders of U.S. commands and for use by the Services. Defense Readiness Conditions are graduated to match situations of varying military severity (status of alert). Defense Readiness Conditions are identified by the short title DEFCON (5), (4), (3), (2), and (1), as appropriate. (with DEFCON 1 being the highest readiness level and DEFCON 5, the lowest).
DELTA: military phonetic for the letter 'D'
DEROS: Army term meaning "date of expected return from overseas." The day all soldiers in Vietnam were waiting for. The US Navy used PRD (projected rotation date).
Det-cord: detonating cord used with explosives
Deuce-and-a-half: two-and-a-half ton truck
DH5: Viet Cong claymore mine
DH10: Viet Cong claymore mine
Dicks: derogatory expression referring to both male genitalia and the enemy
Diddy-bopping: walking carelessly
Didi: slang from the Vietnamese word di, meaning "to leave" or "to go"
Didi mau: slang Vietnamese for "go quickly"
Dink: derogatory term for an Asian
Dinky dau: to be crazy, from "dien cai dau"
District team: American personnel assigned to act as advisors to Vietnamese military and civilian officials at the district level.
District Mobile Company: the major Viet Cong fighting unit organized within each district in Vietnam. The District Mobile Company was assigned to carry out various assignments from direct offensive operations to sabotage and terrorism.
Division: a military unit usually consisting of a headquarters and two or more brigades.
DMOS: duty MOS (military occupational speciality); the MOS of the job you were doing (whether trained for it or not).
DMZ: demilitarized zone. The dividing line between North and South Vietnam established in 1954 at the Geneva Convention.
Doc: medic or corpsman
Dong: unit of North Vietnamese money about equal to a penny
Doo-mommie: English approximation of the Vietnamese du ma, meaning literally "fuck mother"
Double veteran: Having sex with a woman and then killing her made one a double veteran. Perhaps apocryphal, perhaps not.