Article Index

Things like, "Sorry about that," P-38, The World, Short-timer, Viet Cong, VC, Victor Charlie, Chuck, Mr. Charles, Sir Charles, Gunship, Slick, dust-off, Gooney-bird, Puff the Magic Dragon, Puff, Mike Mike, Willie Peter, M-79, M-60, AK-47, RPG, Ruff Puffs, Arc Light, Kit Carson Scout, Chieu Hoi, chickenplate, Donut Dollie, Zapped, fragged, oh-dark-thirty, piss-tube, White Mice, Hot LZ, Cold LZ, Ba Me Ba, Point, Slack, Jesus Nut, etc. etc.

AIRBURST - explosion of a munition in the air

AIR CAV - air cavalry, referring to helicopter-borne infantry

AIT - Advanced Individual Training; the period following Basic Training, specialized training given each soldier based on his MOS (Military Occupational Specialty)

ALPHA-ALPHA - automatic ambush, a combination of claymore mines configured to detonate simultaneously when triggered by a trip-wire/battery mechanism

ARC LIGHT OPERATIONS - 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.

ARCOMS - Army Commendation Medals

ARTICLE 15 - summary disciplinary judgment of a soldier by his commander, could result in fines or confinement in the stockade

ARTY - artillery

A.R.V.N. - Army of the Republic of Vietnam (Army of South Vietnam)

BAC SI - Vietnamese term for medical corpsman; doctor

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

BASE CAMP - semi-permanent field headquarters and center for a given unit, usually within that unit's tactical areas responsibility. A unit could operate in or away from its base camp. Base camps usually contained all or part of a given unit's support elements.

BATTALION - 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 of about 500 people. During the Vietnam War, American battalions were usually much smaller than that.

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

BIRD - any aircraft, usually helicopters

BLUELEG - infantryman, a.k.a. "grunt"

BOUNCING BETTY - explosive that propels upward about four feet into the air and then detonates

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

CAV - nickname for air cavalry

C & C - command and control

CHARLIE, CHARLES, CHUCK - Vietcong -- short for the phonetic representation of "VC": Victor Charlie"

CHERRY - a new troop replacement

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

CHURCH KEY - bottle opener

CLACKER - firing device ("exploder") for triggering claymore mines and other electrically initiated demolitions

CLAYMORE - popular fan-shaped antipersonnel land mine; designed to produce a directionalized, fan-shaped pattern of fragments

COMIC BOOKS (FUNNY BOOKS) - military maps

COMPANY - organizational institution commanded by a captain and consisting of two or more platoons; in Vietnam, varied widely in size according to mission

CRACKER BOX field ambulance

C's - "C-rations", "C-rats", "Charlie rats", or combat rations -- canned meals used in military operations

DAP - 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 meant to prevent leprosy

D.M.Z. - demilitarized zone

DONUT DOLLY - a female American Red Cross volunteer

DOPE - Marine term for the adjustments made to weapon sights; also, a term for marijuana and other illicit drugs

DOUBTFULS - Vietnamese individuals who could not be categorized as either Vietcong or civil offenders; suspect personnel spotted from ground or aircraft

DUSTOFF - nickname for a medical evacuation helicopter or mission

E & E - escape and evasion

ECM - electronic countermeasures, such as jamming, deception, and detection

ELEPHANT GRASS - tall, sharp-edged grass found in the highlands of Vietnam

EM - enlisted man

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

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

FIREFIGHT - exchange of small arms fire between opposing units

FRAG - common term for any grenade

FRAGGING - assassination of an officer by his own troops, usually by means of a grenade

FREEDOM BIRD - any aircraft carrying soldiers back to the "world" (the U.S.A.)

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

FRIENDLY FIRE - euphemism used during the war in Vietnam to describe air, artillery, or small-arms fire from American forces mistakenly directed at American positions

GREEN-EYE - starlight scope; light amplifying telescope, used to see at night

GRUNT - popular nickname for an infantryman in Vietnam; supposedly derived from the sound a soldier made from lifting up his rucksack

HANOI HILTON - nickname American prisoners of war used to describe the Hoa Loa Prison in Hanoi

HOOTCH - house, living quarters or a native hut

HUMP - to slog around on foot

IN COUNTRY - Vietnam