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Glossary of Military Terms & Slang from the Vietnam War A-C


This text, made available by the Sixties Project, is copyright (c) 1996 by Viet Nam Generation, Inc., or the author, all rights reserved. This text may be used, printed, and archived in accordance with the Fair Use provisions of U.S. Copyright law. This text may not be archived, printed, or redistributed in any form for a fee, without the consent of the copyright holder. This notice must accompany any redistribution of the text. The Sixties Project, sponsored by Viet Nam Generation Inc. and the Institute of Advanced Technology in the Humanities at the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, is a collective of humanities scholars working together on the Internet to use electronic resources to provide routes of collaboration and make available primary and secondary sources for researchers, students, teachers, writers and librarians interested in the 1960s.


Go to: Numbers, A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z


Numbers

4-F
classification given to those deemed unfit for military service
50-cal
.50 caliber machine gun
51-cal
heavy machine gun used by the enemy
79
an M-79 grenade launcher
82 mm
a mortar used by the enemy
105
a 105-mm howitzer
201 file
a U.S. Army personnel file


A

AAR
after-action report
AC
aircraft commander
actual
the [Marine] 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'
ammo dump
location where live or expended ammunition is stored
amtrack
amphibious armored vehicle used to transport troops and supplies, armed with a .30-caliber machine gun. The Marines used them.
angel track
an armored personnel carrier used as an 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.
APC
armored personnel carrier. A track vehicle used to transport Army troops or supplies, usually armed with a .50-caliber machine gun.
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.
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.
AWOL
absent without leave; leaving a post or position without official permission
azimuth
a bearing from North


B

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
Vietnamese for 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
band-aid
medic
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 composed of a headquarters and two or more companies, 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 Max
maximum security section of Long Binh Stockade, fashioned out of conex containers. There was one small hole in each side for light and air; in the sun they grew quite hot. Prisoners were allowed out twice a day to use the bathroom and exericise.
Big Red One
nickname for the 1st Infantry Division
Binh Xuyenn:
the organized crime syndicate that controlled much of the Vietnamese underworld and Saigon police until deposed by Diem's forces in 1955.
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
blooker
the M-79 grenade launcher. A 40-millimeter, shotgunlike weapon that shoots spin-armed "balls" or small grenades. Also known as a blooper.
blooper
the M-79 grenade launcher. A 40-millimeter, shotgunlike weapon that shoots spin-armed "balls" or small grenades. Also known as a blooker.
blue feature
any water feature. So called because of the color used to designate water on topographic maps.
body bag
plastic bag used to transport dead bodies from the field
body count
the number of enemy killed, wounded, or captured during an operation. The term was used by Washington and Saigon as a means of measuring the progress of the war.
boo-coo
bastardized French, from beaucoup, meaning "much" or "many".
boom-boom
sex
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
a tactical and administrative military unit composed of a headquarters and one or more battalions of infantry or armor, with other supporting units.
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 no 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 River delta.
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

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-54
largest of the American helicopters, strictly for cargo. Also called Flying Crane or Skycrane.
C-123
small cargo airplane; the Caribou
C-130
large propeller-driven Air Force planes that carry people and cargo; the Hercules
C-141
large cargo airplane; the Starlifter
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
Charlie-Charlie
C&C
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
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
helicopter
chuck
term used by black marines to identify white individuals; often derogatory
Chuck
the Viet Cong; the enemy
CIB
combat infantry badge. And Army award for being under enemy fire in a combat zone, worn on both fatigues and dress uniforms.
CIDG
South Vietnamese Civilian Irregular Defense Groups
CINCPAC
commander in chief of all American forces in the Pacific region
Civilian Irregular Defense Group
American financed, irregular South Vietnamese military units which were led by members of Special Forces A-teams. Members of these units were Vietnamese nationals, but were usually members of ethnic minorities in the country.
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 distance of 100 meters
clearance
permission from both military and political authorities to engage the enemy in a particular area
cluster fuck
any attempted operations which went bad; disorganized
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
connex container
corrugated metal packing crate, approximately six feet in length
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.
coxwain flat
the area where the coxwain (driver) stands when he steers a boat or ship
CP
command post
CP pills
anti-malarial pills
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


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