Vietnam Veteran's Terminology and Slang (2023)

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.

Two strains of rice, developed by the U.S. in the Philippines, that CORDSpersonnel tried to get South VietNamese farmers to use. Tasted slightlydifferent than standard "paddy rice" but had more yield per crop, morecrops per growing season, and were less likely to be lost to flooding.The increased use of this rice was part of the eighth pacificationprogram 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, fromtheir 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 wewere ordered to chamber a round in our rifles.

Lock means mounting the magazine; load means chambering a round. I'vehad 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 meantchambering a round. Since you can't chamber a round untilyou have the magazine in place, this didn't make sense to me(lock and then load), but several insisted that was the wayit 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, wasthe U.S.S. Carronade (IFS-1). She was built for the Korean War,decommissioned and recommissioned for Vietnam. I sailed with her as aplankowner in 1965 through 1968. She was built from the keel up as arocket firing ship. The LSMRs were old LSMs (Landing Ship Medium ) thatlater received the "R" designation (Rocket).

The U.S.S. Carronade had 8, mk5 Rocket Launchers and could launch themwith pinpoint accuracy ... 5,000 in just a few moments! ... one 5'38 duelpurpose gun, and two, twin, forty milimeter "Pom Pom" guns. Also, lots of50 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.

(Video) Vietnam War Slang

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 Divisionand 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 againstpersonnel targets. It was usually launched from helicopter gunships. Thenumber 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


(Video) Vietnam Terminology For Veterans

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

Two variations were in use in Vietnam: theMK 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 .50machine gun at the stern. Many different variations of armament werearranged by the crews.

PBR: also referred to as PROUD BRAVE RELIABLE.

PBR: short for Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, the only beer a PBR sailor woulddrink; 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 featurefor 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 citizensbanded 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 anupcoming 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 shellfrom a 5" gun is extended to a ridiculous length with absolutely noaccuracy.

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 undergrowthin 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 attackby 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 upfrom 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 youdidn'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

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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 wereno 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 CandidateSchool) 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 behindafter 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 defensetroops 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 riversof 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 thatreally did float, but didn't do so good on land. The originals were LCM-6swith armor plate and bar armor added. They had nine seats for the troopsand a canvas top to keep the sun out. Each tango could carry a fullyequipped rifle platoon. They had two twin .50 cal. machine gun mounts onand a canvas top to keep the sun out. Each tango could carry a fullyequipped rifle platoon. They had two twin .50 cal. machine gun mounts onthe boat deck and four Browning .30 cal. light machine guns rechambered for NATO7.62 mm in the well deck. In 1968 the Navy deployed two new river assaultsquadrons with tango boats built from the keel up specifically for riverineoperation.

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.

(Video) FOX, BRA & Air Combat Terminology | Koala Explains: Missile Types & Brevity Codes

MACV-CORDS computer program designed to monitor the strength, size, locationand 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 destructioninstantaneously.

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 towarn the locals of booby trapped areas by posting little wooden signs withthose words on it just at the edge of the wood line. Ironically it waspronounced "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 localtacticianers. "Render Ineffective the VCI" was the second of eightpacification program goals for 1969. The "Phoenix Program" grew out ofthis 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)

Vietnam Veteran's Terminology and Slang (1)Vietnam Veteran's Terminology and Slang (2)


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.'

Vietnam Veteran's Terminology and Slang (3)Back


What are you supposed to say to Vietnam veterans? ›

Welcome home, thank you for you service, God Bless. To all Vietnam veterans--Thankyou for your service and all that you sacrificed for this country! To all my brothers in arms from the era of Vietnam” thank you for your service and to those that payed the ultimate sacrifice God be with you .

What did Viet Cong call American soldiers? ›

Number-One GI– A troop who spends a lot of money in Vietnam. Number-Ten GI – A troop who barely spends money in Vietnam. Ok Sahlem – Term American soldiers had for villagers' children who would beg for menthol cigarettes.

What does DD mean in Vietnam War? ›

(slang) To leave quickly, hurry away.

What did hump mean in Vietnam? ›

hump To travel on foot, especially when carrying and transporting necessary supplies for field combat. platoon A military unit composed of two or more squads or sections, normally under the command of a lieutenant: it is a subdivision of a company, troop, and so on.

What are some veteran sayings? ›

America without her soldiers would be like God without his angels.” “There is nothing nobler than risking your life for your country.” “I have long believed that sacrifice is the pinnacle of patriotism.” “This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.”

Is it OK to say welcome home to a Vietnam veteran? ›

It is a recognition of what the Vietnam veterans endured during the war and coming home. "When you see a vet, walk up to him and say, 'thank you for your service and welcome home,'" said Roberts.

What does Dinky Dau mean? ›

Boocoo Dinky Dow" is how American GIs heard the French/Vietnamese phrase "beaucoup dien cai dau" for "very crazy." For more information, visit

What was the nickname for Vietnam soldiers? ›

Collectively the United States often called them the Viet Cong. It was commonly shortened to VC, which in military alphabet code was spoken as Victor Charlie. It was further shortened to just Charlie. American soldiers called them Charlie, they called themselves liberators.

What is a Charlie in the army? ›

THREATCON CHARLIE: (Threat level high) This condition applies when an incident occurs or intelligence is received indicating some form of terrorist action against personnel and facilities is imminent.

What does Buku mean Vietnamese? ›

BUKU. Definition: Lots of (from the French "beaucoup") Type: Slang Word (Jargon)

What does Titi mean in Vietnamese? ›

English - English (Wordnet) dictionary (also found in French - Vietnamese) titi. Noun. small South American monkeys with long beautiful fur and long nonprehensile tail.

What does Buku mean in slang? ›

Buku definition

Filters. Alternative spelling of beaucoup (lots, a large amount) Lots, a large amount.

What unit saw the most combat in Vietnam? ›

The 199th Infantry Brigade is most notable for its participation in combat operations during the Vietnam War.

What does Dai Uy mean? ›

Explanation: Technically, it's 'captain' but this word was adopted during the Vietnam war era by American GIs to mean 'boss, chief, leader' etc based upon the original meaning in Vietnamese.

What does DD mean in military? ›

Dishonorable discharge, a punitive discharge in the U.S. military.

What are good military quotes? ›

Brave men rejoice in adversity, just as brave soldiers triumph in war.” “America without her soldiers would be like God without His angels.” “No man is a man until he has been a soldier.” “Freedom is never free.”

What is the best thing to say to a veteran on Veterans Day? ›

Thank you for your sacrifices, for your valor, for the things you carry, for protecting us, and for defending our rights. Thank you to all our veterans for your courage, strength and dedication to keeping us safe. Growing up in a military family, I know the sacrifice that countless men and women have made.

How do you thank a Vietnam vet? ›

Thank you for your service to this country. Your bravery, sacrifice, and strength do not go unnoticed, and we will always be indebted to you and your family for all that you have given to the country. I would like to thank you very much for your service! Thank you for your time, bravery, and sacrifice for this country.

How do you honor a Vietnam veteran? ›

10 Ways To Recognize Military Service Beyond Saying Thank You
  1. Honor Vietnam Vets. ...
  2. Help The Community. ...
  3. Show Respect. ...
  4. Vote. ...
  5. Help Make Veterans' Rights A Priority. ...
  6. Memorialize A Veteran. ...
  7. Get Informed. ...
  8. Volunteer Your Time.

What does Boku mean in Vietnamese? ›

Adverb. beaucoup. much, very much, a lot.

Why did they call Vietnamese Charlie? ›

During the Vietnam War, the Vietnamese Communist guerillas we're referred to as Viet Cong. This was shortened to VC. For radio communication, soldiers would use the phonetic alphabet to spell VC, thus VC becomes Victor Charlie. Soldiers, as they do, then used the name Charlie to refer to the Viet Cong.

How do you pronounce Dien Cai Dau? ›

dien cai dao (Pronounced "dee-in-kee-daow"): Vietnamese for "crazy in the head."

What does Charlie Mike mean in military? ›

Jun 1, 2020. Charlie Mike. This military term is code for Continue Mission—pushing through adversity no matter the difficulties. That's at the heart of The Mission Continues: to never quit until we've completed our mission.

What alcohol did soldiers drink in Vietnam? ›

As the Vietnam War waged through the '60s, cans evolved stateside, gaining the “pop-top” feature common today. Military personnel in Vietnam however, still received cans with flat tops. It was small price to pay to ensure that U.S. service members got their beer, a taste of home.

What does LZ mean in Vietnam? ›

Landing Zone English (also known as English Airfield, LZ Dog, LZ English or simply Bong Son) is a former U.S. Army and Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) base in Bồng Sơn, Bình Định Province, Vietnam.

What does foxtrot Mike mean? ›

What does "alpha mike foxtrot" mean? Alpha Mike Foxtrot, AMF, is shorthand for "Adios Mother *bleep*". Use your imagination to fill in the blank. Another more sanitized version is adios my friend.

What does Tango Mike mean? ›

What does Tango Mike mean? Answer: It means “thank you,” or specifically, “thanks much.” In 1955, many military organizations, including NATO and the U.S. military, adopted a phonetic alphabet to aid in correctly transmitting messages.

What does Oscar Mike mean in the military? ›

Oscar Mike is military lingo for “On the Move” and was specifically chosen to represent the spirit of its founder and the Veterans he serves.

What did American soldiers call Japanese soldiers in ww2? ›

In WWII, American soldiers commonly called Germans and Japanese as krauts and Japs.

Which of the following best describes the Americans who served as infantry soldiers in Vietnam? ›

Terms in this set (10)

Which of the following best describes the Americans who served as infantry soldiers in Vietnam? Most were young, working-class draftees.

What nicknames were given to supporters of the Vietnam War and those in opposition of it? ›

And as the Vietnam War dragged on, America became increasingly divided. Those who supported the war were often called hawks. And those who opposed it was known as doves.

Are there still POWS in Vietnam 2022? ›

STATUS OF THE POW/MIA ISSUE: September 17 , 2022

1,582 Americans are still listed by DoD as missing and unaccounted-for from the Vietnam War: Vietnam - 1,242 (VN-442, VS-802); Laos–285; Cambodia-48; Peoples Republic of China territorial waters–7.

What did Germans call Americans in WWII? ›

Tommy was common too. "Ami" or "Amis", short for American, not nasty - just slang. It took on deeper meaning during the cold war, but was fairly neutral at the time of WWII when first used. Sometimes you heard translations / variations / updates of the WWI "dough boy" - maybe in English, maybe translated.

What do Germans call Americans? ›

Ami. Ami is derived from Amerikaner, but it specifically refers to people from the United States, including US soldiers in Germany.

What is the most decorated unit in the Army? ›

Today, the 442nd is remembered as the most decorated unit for its size and length of service in the history of the US military. The unit, totaling about 18,000 men, over 4,000 Purple Hearts, 4,000 Bronze Stars, 560 Silver Star Medals, 21 Medals of Honor, and seven Presidential Unit Citations.

Why was fighting in Vietnam so difficult for American servicemen? ›

There was no war front to advance, no safe region to defend, not even a well-defined theatre in which to operate. The Vietnam conflict was a 360-degree war where any soldier – particularly Americans and Westerners – might encounter attacks, ambushes and booby traps at any place or time.

What is the defoliant called that was used in Vietnam? ›

Agent Orange was a herbicide mixture used by the U.S. military during the Vietnam War. Much of it contained a dangerous chemical contaminant called dioxin. Production of Agent Orange ended in the 1970s and is no longer in use. The dioxin contaminant however continues to have harmful impact today.

How gruesome was the Vietnam War? ›

An estimated 500 Vietnamese, mostly women, children, and the elderly, died in the massacre. The brutality has been well documented: American soldiers raped, mutilated, and tortured the villagers before killing them; families were dragged from their homes, thrown into ditches and executed.

Why did they call the enemy Charlie in Vietnam? ›

During the Vietnam War, the Vietnamese Communist guerillas we're referred to as Viet Cong. This was shortened to VC. For radio communication, soldiers would use the phonetic alphabet to spell VC, thus VC becomes Victor Charlie. Soldiers, as they do, then used the name Charlie to refer to the Viet Cong.

What was the enemy called in Vietnam? ›

Vietnam War, (1954–75), a protracted conflict that pitted the communist government of North Vietnam and its allies in South Vietnam, known as the Viet Cong, against the government of South Vietnam and its principal ally, the United States.

What were the South Vietnamese soldiers called? ›

The Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN; Vietnamese: Lục quân Việt Nam Cộng hòa; French: Armée de la république du Viêt Nam) were the ground forces of the South Vietnamese military from its inception in 1955 to the Fall of Saigon in April 1975.

Who was the longest held POW in Vietnam? ›

Floyd James Thompson

Do MIA soldiers still get paid? ›

"Soldiers designated with Captive, Missing, or Missing in Action (MIA) status are entitled to receive the pay and allowances to which entitled when the status began or to which the Soldiers later become entitled." Source. This is in fact true for the U.S. Military.

Did any US soldiers stay in Vietnam? ›

For instance, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, the number of U.S. military and civilian personnel still unaccounted for from the Vietnam War was given as 1,621 as of March 23, 2016. Then as of December 21, 2018, the number of U.S. military and civilian personnel still unaccounted for is 1,592.


1. Vietnam in 6 words
(Stars and Stripes)
2. Slang Words in the Army!
3. Vietnam Veterans: Full Interview with Larry Stephens
(Panhandle PBS)
4. Vietnam War Marine Vietnam shares story of the 1st Battalion 9th Marines "The Walking Dead" USMC
(Chris Taglieri)
5. Helmet Graffiti in the Vietnam War
(Simple History)
6. SADF slang glossary Part 2
(Hipe Magazine)
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