Common terms from the Vietnam War. Please post a comment at the end of this page if you think we've missed anything.

A | B | C | D | EF | G | H | IJ | KL | M | N | O | PQ | R | S | T | UV | WXYZ

1ALSG

1st Australian Logistic Support Group, based at Vung Tau

1ATF

1st Australian Task Force; brigade sized formation based at Nui Dat

161

161 Battery RNZA (Royal New Zealand Artillery)

2 (or 4 or 6) RAR/NZ (ANZAC)

Anzac battalion in which NZ companies served

2IC

Second in command

2,4-D

2,4 dichlorophenoxyacetic acid; component of Agent Orange

2,4,5-T

2,4,5 trichlorophenoxyacetic acid; component of Agent Orange

ACPO

Assistant Command Post Operator

AD-4 Skyraider

Single-seat carrier-based dive bomber and torpedo carrier flown by the USN, USAF, and VNAF during the Vietnam War

Adjutant

An officer who assists a more senior officer with the organisation, administration, and discipline for a battalion or regiment

Admin

Administration; preparing for and maintaining personal and unit readiness for operations

Agent Blue

Water-based herbicide; a non-systematic desiccant used primarily against grasses, taking effect in 24 - 48 hours and killing leaves in 2 - 4 days

Agent Orange

Oil-based herbicide; a systematic defoliant effective against broadleaf vegetation, achieving maximum effect in 4 - 6 weeks, with a duration of approximately 12 months

Agent White

Water-based herbicide; a systematic defoliant effective against broadleaf vegetation, achieving maximum effect in 6 - 8 weeks, with a duration of approximately 12 months

AK47

North Vietnamese Army (NVA) or Viet Cong (VC) semi or fully automatic assault weapon using 7.62mm short ammo

Albatross

Call-sign of Royal Australian Airforce (RAAF) Iroquois helicopter; also known as a 'Huey'

Anti-personnel mines

Mines designed for use against humans; to injure – as opposed to killing – as many enemies as possible in order to increase the logistical (mostly medical) support required by such an enemy force

Ambush

Attempt to kill from cover without warning, planned or done quickly

Ammo

Ammunition, usually bullets but including grenades and other carried munitions

ANPRC-25

Very high frequency (VHF) portable radio used at the sharp end for most variety of communication – called '25 set'

ANPRC-77

Improved VHF man portable radio; gradually replaced the 25 set – called '77 set'

ANZAC

Australian and New Zealand Army Corps; designation created in First World War when both countries fought together for the first time (Gallipoli, 1915); also used to describe a 'common spirit of brotherhood' i.e. the Anzac spirit

AO

Area of operations; terrain ground forces patrolled and fought to dominate

AP

Anti-personnel mine, as in 'AP mine'

APC

Armoured personnel carrier: M113 for troops, M125 mortars, M548 cargo, M577 ACV, M579 fitters

Arc

Area a weapon or soldier was required to cover in an all-round protective posture

Arc light operations

Code name for the devastating aerial raids of B52 Stratofortresses against enemy positions in South-East Asia

Artillery forward observers

Artillery men attached to rifle companies; acted as middle men between artillery and soldiers, giving co-ordinates to artillery at base

Arty

Artillery of any calibre, tracked or towed; most common included 105mm, 155mm, 8-inch howitzers, 40mm 'dusters'

ASCO

Services Canteens Organisation (Australian Canteen Service)

ARVN

Army of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnamese government forces)

ATF

Australian Task Force; see 1ATF

Aussie

Australian

AWOL

Absent without leave, unauthorised absence from duty or place

Back pack

Load carrying back pack for field equipment and spare stores, dumped whenever a contact occurred; typical weight around 65lb/30kg; also known as field pack; see belt order

Baggy (arse)

Private soldier; derived from ill-fitting baggy trousers

Bandolier

Shoulder-carried ammunition pouch

Base camp

Semi-permanent field headquarters and centre for a unit usually within its tactical area responsibility; usually contains all or part of a unit's support elements

BC

Battery Commander

Beehive

Direct-fire artillery round which incorporated steel darts (flechettes), used as primary base defence munition against ground attack

Belt order

Personal load carrying belt and suspenders containing fighting equipment not otherwise carried in back pack, which remained on or close to the individual at all times; typical weight around 40lb/18kg; see back pack

Bird

Any aircraft, usually helicopters

Birddog

Small fixed-wing reconnaissance aircraft used to spot for ground-attack aircraft, especially Cessna L-19/O-1

Bn

Battalion; military unit of around 500 - 1500 men usually consisting of between 2 and 6 companies and typically commanded by a lieutenant colonel

BOD

Base Ordnance Depot

Bodycount

Term borrowed from US forces to describe the success or ferocity of engagements, i.e. 'there was a high bodycount of enemy killed'

Booby trap

Improvised trap designed to maim or severely injure an individual

Bookoo

Much; derived from the French word 'beaucoup'

Boom boom

Sex; 'bookoo boom boom' meant 'much sex'

Boom boom house

Slang for brothel

Boonies

Term borrowed from US forces; see bush

Boss

Informal bush title for an officer; alternative address to 'sir'

Boundary

Edge of AO; to be close to or to cross a boundary required permission, called a 'mousetrap'

BQMS

Battery Quarter Master

Brass up

Concentrated fire into an area

Brew

Hot drink, as in 'want a brew?'; coffee, milk and two sugar was called 'NATO standard'

BRIAM

British Advisory Mission Vietnam; advised government of South Vietnam (GVN) on hamlet programs and counter insurgency generally; 'Malaya experts'

Brigade

Basic military organisational unit; during the Vietnam War, a division was organised into three brigades each commanded by a colonel; a division consists of approximately 20,000 people

Bristol 170 Freighter

Utility transport aircraft; used by RNZAF for supply missions to South Vietnam 1968-1975

Bronco

US OV-10 twin-engine aircraft armed with rockets and miniguns; used by the USAF and USMC for forward air control and scouting missions

Brownie film

Toilet paper

BSM

Battery Sergeant Major

Bunds

Royal Australian Artillery (RAA) and Royal New Zealand Artillery (RNZA) name for sandbag defensive artillery positions created by small bulldozers

Burst

Controlled firing of five or more rounds of automatic fire, more depending on urgency

Bush

Jungle; area outside the base perimeter where fighting took place

Bushranger

Australian Iroquois helicopter gunship

B52 Stratofortress

Long-range, subsonic, jet-powered, strategic bomber operated by the United States Air Force (USAF) since 1955

C&C

Command and control; title applied to helicopter (usually with extra radios) with sunray on board flying above AO directing ground operations, or a person doing 'C & C' for a task

Cadres

Small groups of covert political organisers in villages; members helped recruit, train and support Viet Cong military wing; always competed with the South Vietnamese government structure and services

Call-sign

Radio code-word to identify or summon particular organisations or people for a radio conversation

Canister

Anti-personnel artillery or tank round containing flechette

Cans

Usually beer; 'in the can' meant arrested and locked up; see goffers

Caribou

de Havilland Canada DHC-4 Caribou; a twin-engine light transport aircraft operated by the US Army, USAF and RAAF in Vietnam.

Carpet-bombing

Heavy, indiscriminate bombing of an area by plane, usually causing widespread destruction

CASEVAC

Casualty evacuation of injured soldiers from the field; see dustoff and MEDEVAC

CCRSFF

Commander Central Region SEATO (South East Asia Treaty Organisation) Field Force

Centurion

Australian battle tank

Chalk

Group of personnel grouped together for travel

Charlie

Slang for Viet Cong (VC); from radio designation 'victor charlie'

Cheyenne

Medium-sized high-speed observation helicopter

Chieu Hoi (Chew Hoy)

'Open arms', programme that allowed VC to defect and receive money for surrendered weapons

Chinook

Large twin-rotor helicopter; see Geronimo

Chopper

Any model of helicopter, usually US model Iroquois UH-1D troop lift and utility helicopter flown by allied forces Army Aviation or air force units

Choges

Vietnamese people

Civvies

Civilians; clothes when out of uniform

Clacker

Electrical firing device used to detonate claymore mine; from sound made on use

Claymore

US model directional anti-personnel mine with 900 ball-bearings, electrically fired singly or in a bank

Click

Kilometre, as in 'travel 6-clicks south'

Commando Vault

BLU-82 15,000 pound bomb dropped from a C130

Comms

Communications, verbal or electronic, as in 'get comms with'[call-sign]'

Conex

Container Export (used as platform for claymore mine control posts); see claymore

Contact

Engagement, often sudden, with enemy; cry/radio message used to warn that enemy is engaged, as in 'contact front'

Coord

Co-ordination; bringing together different agencies to achieve a common task; artillery support for infantry attack with FAC available to direct air strikes; engineer support to clear mines

Coy

Company; organisation of soldiers for administrative and tactical reasons; usually commanded by a major

Coyote

Small high-speed reconnaissance helicopter

CP

Command post

CPO

Command Post Operator

CQMS

Company Quartermaster Sergeant; senior non-commissioned officer (NCO) responsible for stores and resupply

Crunchie

Australian slang for infantry, from the sound made by walking on gravel

CSM

Company Sergeant Major, senior other rank (OR) in company; 'right hand man' for officer commanding (OC)

C130

US model tactical troop and cargo aircraft used extensively by USAF and RNZAF; known as 'Hercules'

C4

Type of plastic explosive, commonly found inside claymore AP mine

Dacrons

New Zealand dress uniform in the tropics, complete with regimental belt, beret and black rank; Australian lanyard designating the ANZAC battalion the soldier belonged to was also worn

Dapsone

Drug used by Australians and New Zealanders as a malaria suppressant, taken in combination with Paludrine

DAQMG

Deputy Assistant Quartermaster General

Defoliant

Chemical sprayed or dusted on trees or plants to make leaves fall off

Dhobi

Laundry

DF

Defensive fire; usually refers to artillery fire called to land close to the allied perimeter; can be fired and recorded in anticipation of VC attack; a 'silent' DF target was calculated from a map (i.e. without using ranging shots) and recorded on a register for use in an emergency

Digger

Slang for Australian soldier

Div Loc Bty

Divisional Locating Battery

Div Postal

Divisional Postal Unit

Div Pro Coy

Divisional Provost Company

Div Sal Coy

Divisional Salvage Company

DMZ

Demilitarised Zone

Dong

Vietnamese unit of currency

Double-tap

Snap shooting technique where two rounds are quickly fired at the centre of a target before the firer changes position

DOW

Died of wounds some time after being wounded

Drill

see IA

DTA

Division tactical area; an Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) DTA comprised two or more provinces; the DTA commander was also the ARVN division commander, and the DTA was his permanent tactical area of responsibility (TAOR)

Duffel bag

Ground based personnel sensing devices

Duster

M42 40mm self-propelled anti-aircraft gun; see M42

Dustoff

Radio code-word for removal of battle casualties from a contact, usually by helicopter

Ebony

Call-sign for switchboard at 1 Australian Task Force (1ATF); could indicate specific officers/office, e.g. 'Ebony 12' as reference in correspondence

Engr

Engineer; support troops used for construction, demolition or battlefield mine/booby trap clearance

EOD

Explosive Ordnance Disposal

Extraction

Withdrawal by air of troops from area of operation via helicopter; see AO

F4 Phantom II

Two-seat, twin-engined, long-range supersonic interceptor jet fighter/fighter-bomber flown in Vietnam by the USN and USAF

FAC

Forward air controller, usually airborne, who could call for and direct air strikes

FDC

Fire-Direction Control Centre; place where requests for fire support were interpretated into specific information for ground artillery. Also co-ordinated artillery and mortar fire

FFI

Free from infections; routine medical inspection to check for skin and other medical problems

Field dressing

Large cotton pad with strapping soldiers carried for emergency first aid to stop bleeding, usually taped to equipment such as rifle butts

Firebase

Semi-permanent defended location in an AO from which a unit supports operations with artillery and logistics

Firetrail

Land clearing of bush to provide better observation of likely VC routes

Flechette

Individual dart from either flechette artillery or tank round; each round contains several thousand individual flechettes designed to break up massed infantry assaults

FOO

Artillery forward observation officer, usually a captain, who travelled with infantry to co-ordinate artillery support

FOO(A)

Artillery forward observation officer assistant; a NCO or gunner (gnr) who travelled with infantry as fire support co-ordinator in place of mortar fire controller (MFC)

Forward scout

Soldier in front of platoon, seeking out likely enemy ambush sites and booby traps

Frag

Fragmentation hand grenade

Fragging

Assassination of unpopular officers by allied soldiers, often by means of fragmentation grenade; there are no recorded incidents of NZ troops fragging officers during the Vietnam War

Friendlies

Australian troops, allies, or anyone not on the other side

Friendly fire

Air, artillery, or small arms fire from own forces mistakenly directed at own positions

FSCC

Fire Support Co-ordination Centre; artillery command post to manage fire from all deployed guns

FSPB

Fire support patrol base followed by a particular name, usually of a woman; see firebase

FWMAF

Free World Military Assistance Forces (US, NZ, Australian, South Vietnamese and other allied forces)

Gat

Rifle

Geronimo

Nickname for US CH-47 Chinook helicopter; based on aircraft call-signs

GI

Nickname for American soldiers; from the term 'Government Issue' which was stamped on all equipment used by the soldiers

Goffer

Can of soft drink

Gollock

Issue machete, rarely used except in FSPB as the noise attracted enemy attention; see secateurs

Gook

Slang for Viet Cong; see VC

GPMG

General purpose machine gun, used at section level for fire support; see M60

GPO

Gun Position Officer; a lieutenant or captain responsible for a battery's technical tasks and for operating the battery command post

Greens

Green uniform designed for field wear

Ground clearance

Permission given by land force commander for air or artillery clearance to fire/fly into or over his area of operations

Grunt

US slang for infantry soldier, as in 'the only answer you get from a foot soldier is a grunt'

GSW

Gun shot wound

Guns

Artillery; see arty

GVN

Government of [South] Vietnam

Happy pills

Anti-malarial tablets

Harbour

Bush location where field troops rest and protect themselves

H&I

Harassment and interdiction; unobserved artillery, mortar or air bombardment on locations which might be used by enemy forces, usually fired at night

HE

High explosive; destructive force in artillery shells, mortar bombs, aerial bombs

Hepatitis roll

Bread roll baked locally

Hercules

Transport aircraft; see C130

Hexie

Hexamine or solid kerosene; British-made cooking tablet used mainly in Malaysia

Hoi Chanh

Viet Cong or North Vietnamese soldier who defects and joins the government of South Vietnam forces or ceases fighting against them; see Chieu Hoi

Hoochie

House, tent or other living space; from US slang; also known as hutchie

Hook into

To attack aggressively

Hot Extraction

Withdrawal of troops from area of operation via helicopter while under enemy fire

Hot LZ

Landing zone under hostile fire

HQ

Headquarters, at any level describes the command staff structure

HueyCobra

AH-1 Cobra - two-bladed, single engine attack helicopter; also known as Snake

Hutchie

Small nylon sheets rigged up to branches to provide shelter

IA

Immediate action; instinctive drill such as ambush or contact

In country

In Vietnam

Inf

Infantry

INTREP

Intelligence report on enemy locations, movement and intentions

Iroquois

Model of US helicopter operated in Phouc Tuy province by 9 Squadron RAAF; see UH-1D

J [jay]

Jungle; see bush

Jumping jack

Anti-personnel mine; known by Americans as a 'bouncing betty'

Jungle penetrator

Heavy bulb device with fold away seats, lowered from a helicopter by winch to extract people where a landing is not feasible

KFS

Knife, fork, spoon, used with mess tins, preferably plastic to reduce noise in the bush

KIA

Killed in action during a contact; see WIA

'Kit Carson'

Viet Cong defector who then served with allied forces as a scout or interpreter; Australians called them 'bushman scouts'; see Chieu Hoi

Kiwi

New Zealander; nickname used internationally and within New Zealand to describe people from New Zealand; derived from flightless bird native to New Zealand

L5

105mm L5 pack howitzer gun used by 161 Battery in Vietnam, 1965-1967

LAD

Light aid detachment

LFT

Light fire team; comprised two UH-1D helicopters armed with forward firing mini-guns and 2.75-inch Zuni rocket pods with twin M60 in each door; RAAF call-sign 'bushranger'

Lilo

Australian model air mattress with inner air tubes

LOB

Left out of battle; personnel routinely rested from operations; see pogue

LOCSTAT

Statement of location of a force or activity, typically a coded grid reference

LP

Landing point, single helicopter pad or area in bush capable of allowing one helicopter to land

LZ

Landing zone, capable of multiple helicopter landings and movements

MAINTDEM

Routine supply to field troops of essential items like food and water; see OPDEM

MEDCAP

Medical Civic Action Program; normally conducted in a secure area and could involve psychological operations to display humanitarian treatment and improve the image of occupying forces

MEDEVAC

Medical evacuation

Medic

Medical orderly or trained soldier who would provide medical support

Mess

Dining hall; barbeque area

Mess tins

Metal dishes used to cook and eat meals; container for shaving water, etc

MFC

Mortar fire controller attached to infantry; mortar sections often accompanied companies in the bush; MFC directed artillery fire in absence of forward observation officer

MG

Machine gun

MID

Mentioned in despatches; lowest form of decoration

Minigun

Electric Gatling gun; 7.62mm machine gun comprising 6-10 rotating barrels firing up to 6000 rounds per minute. They were usually mounted on airplanes and helicopters to be used on gound targets

Mohawk

Grumman OV-1 Mohawk observation aircraft; designed for battlefield surveillance and light strike capabilities

Mortar

Infantry support weapon which fires bombs in a high trajectory that plummet onto target

Mossie

Mosquito

MPC

Military payment certificates with face value of US currency but only valid for use by service personnel at Allied facilities; issued to control the local black market

MPO

Medical Petty Officer

Mug

Field cup used to heat food and drink

M2A2

105mm howitzer gun used by 161 Battery in Vietnam, 1967-1971; also designated M101A1

M16

US designed anti-personnel jumping mine; also known as a Jumping Jack

M16-A1

US model 5.56mm lightweight personal rifle; see SLR

M18

US model smoke grenade used for signalling; available in four colours – violet, green, yellow, and red

M18-A1

Designation for claymore anti-personnel mine

M26

US model fragmentation grenade

M42

40mm self-propelled anti-aircraft gun, often used for point security, convoy escort or perimeter defence in Vietnam; also known as the Duster

M60

US model general purpose machine gun

M72

US model shoulder fired 72mm light shaped charge rocket used to attack bunkers

M79

US model 40mm grenade launcher

M113

Armoured personnel carrier designed to carry and position troops and supplies; used to transport the L5 pack howitzer guns of 161 Battery 1965-67

M125

M113 variant; self-propelled armoured personnel carrier with 81mm mortar firing through large, circular roof hatch in hull rear

M548

M113 variant; unarmoured cargo carrier

M577 ACV

M113 variant; command vehicle used as a tactical operations centre; includes command and control equipment and long-range communications through hand-cranked extendible antenna system

M579 fitter

M113 variant; repair and recovery vehicle fitted with crane attachment

Napalm

Mixture of gasoline and detergent, which, when it exploded, sucks oxygen from the air, either killing people through asphyxiation or burning them alive; often used during firefights

Nasho

Australian national serviceman or two-year conscript

NCO

Non-commissioned officer; section commander; platoon sergeant type ranks

NDP

Night defensive position; a small temporary base for supporting arms like tanks

Neptune

P-2 US Navy aircraft

NEWZAD

The New Zealand Army Detachment Vietnam; engineer detachment which served in Vietnam, June 1964 - July 1965

Night hunter

Co-ordinated radar, artillery and air cavalry

Night raid

Planned operation against an intelligence target

Nitecap

Integrated civic action programme during darkness with particular emphasis on psychological operations

Nog/Noggie

NZ/Australian slang for Vietnamese

NVA

North Vietnamese Army; regular army of North Vietnam

NZ

New Zealand or New Zealander; see Kiwi

NZATTV

New Zealand Army Training Team Vietnam

NZV Force

New Zealand Army Force (Vietnam)

OC

Officer commanding; also known as the company commander or sunray

OCTU

Officer Cadet Training Unit

O Group

Orders group; meeting of personnel to be tasked for future operations

OPDEM

Urgent supply to field troops of ammunition and weapons; see MAINTDEM

Op(s)

Operation (usually followed by a name); see AO

OR

Other ranks; soldiers who are not commissioned officers

Orion

P-3 US Navy aircraft

Oscar Deuce

Cessna 0-2 Forward Air Control (FAC) aircraft

OTLP

One Time Letter Pad; a code book system used by patrols in the field; each page would be used only once

OUMC

Otago University Medical Company

Pad

See LP

Paludrine

Drug used by Australians and New Zealanders in Vietnam as a malaria suppressant, taken in combination with Dapsone

Patrol

Activity; selection of soldiers from three to company size on task in the bush

PC

Slang for APC, as in 'mount that PC'

PE

Plastic explosive such as C4

People sniffer

Electro-chemical device to detect humans

Pepper-pot

Advance to contact in an unpredictable manner using small groups who cover movement with observation and aimed fire; in appearance like shaking pepper from a pot

Pit

Hole dug or scraped in the ground as protection from incoming fire

Pl

Platoon; military unit typically composed of two to four sections or squads and containing 30 - 50 soldiers

Pl comd

Platoon commander; usually an officer of lieutenant rank

Pl sgt

Platoon sergeant, responsible for platoon administration and deputising for commander

Picket duty

Sentry duty

Pogue

Derisory slang for someone permanently left out of battle; see LOB

POO

Point of Origin; map referencing system in which prearranged grid references on a map were used as a point of origin by jungle patrols

Pop smoke

To throw a coloured (red, yellow, or green) smoke grenade to assist helicopters identify correct landing place

Possum Call-sign for aircraft or helicopter of 161 Reconnaissance Flight

POW

Prisoner of war

Pte

Private; lowest grade of trained soldier; also Gnr (gunner – artillery), Sig (signaller – Corps of Signals), Spr (sapper – engineers), Tpr (trooper – armoured corps)

Puff the magic dragon C-47 aircraft equipped with three mini-guns; see spooky

Punji

Sharpened stick; see booby trap

PX

Post Exchange; retail stores operating on United States military installations worldwide. Known as Base Exchange (BX) on Air Force bases, and Navy Exchange (NEX) on Navy bases

Q store

Quartermaster store; reserve stores in base area

RAA

Royal Australian Artillery

RAAF

Royal Australian Air Force; helicopters and transports supporting 1st Australian Task Force (1ATF)

Ranch hand

Tactical military project for aerial spraying of herbicides in South Vietnam

Rank

Designation of experience and authority; see Pte, NCO, CQMS, CSM, OC

RAP

Regimental aid post; first level medical facility

RAR

Royal Australian Regiment; Australian infantry structure of nine battalions, three of which were designated ANZAC and had New Zealand companies

Rats

Rations

Raven

US UH-23 observation helicopter

Recce

Reconnaissance; US abbreviation was 'recon'

resup

Resupply; see MAINTDEM

RF/PF

Regional force or popular force militia; part of ARVN; also known as ruff puffs

Rolling thunder

US air campaign against North Vietnam

Rounds

Ammunition

RPG

Soviet or Chinese model shoulder-fired rocket propelled grenade; used as local firepower by VC

RNZA

Royal New Zealand Artillery

RNZAF

Royal New Zealand Air Force

RNZIR Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment
RNZN Royal New Zealand Navy
RNZNVR Royal New Zealand Naval Volunteer Reserve
RSVN Republic of South Vietnam

RTNZ

'Return to New Zealand' from overseas posting

R in C

Rest-in-country; a 48-hour recreational break at Peter Badcoe Club Vung Tau

R&C

Rest and convalescence; 5-day leave for NZers outside South Vietnam

R&R

Rest and recreation sponsored by US Forces; 5-days off outside South Vietnam

Sapper

Lowest grade of field engineer; special force VC or NVA soldiers who penetrated bases to destroy infrastructure

SAS

Special Air Service, either Australian or New Zealand; lived on 'SAS Hill', the highest point in Nui Dat

Scout

First and second soldier in patrol; role to give early warning of danger

SEATO

South East Asia Treaty Organisation

Secateurs

Hand-held pruning shears used to remove bush during movement; see gollock

Shell scrape

Military earthwork used as a sleeping space for soldiers in the field

Short

Time still remaining to serve in a tour of duty

Sig

Signaller or radio operator; see Pte

SITREP

Situation report, usually a coded radio message using a standard format

Sky crane

See superhook

SLR

British model 7.62mm semi-automatic self-loading personal rifle; see M16-A1

Slick

Single helicopter movement; slang for an individual troop carrying helicopter

Sioux

US OH-13 observation helicopter

Snake

AH-1 Cobra - two-bladed, single engine attack helicopter; also known as HueyCobra

Snakepit

Revetments at Vung Tau airfield where AH-1 Cobra gunship helicopters were based

Snatch

Rapidly planned and executed operation to exploit information obtained from enemy

Snoopy

US aircraft tasked to scan jungle with a range of human detecting sensors

SOP

Standard operating procedure; agreed way to do certain actions or reports

Spider holes

Shoulder-deep hole, often covered by a camouflaged lid and linked to a tunnel system; the VC stood and fired a weapon, then closed the lid to disguise the hole

Splinter team

Small group of field engineers attached to rifle units for mine, booby trap or obstacle clearing tasks

Splintex

Term for round filled with flechettes

Spooky

Call sign for C-47 gunship; see puff the magic dragon

Sqn

Squadron, military subunit of company equivalent; air force unit

Stag

Rostered sentry duty

Stand-to

Period at dusk and dawn when all activity ceases; change from day to night routine or vice versa

Stick

Group of men ready to board helicopters

Stokes litter

Rigid stretcher with straps to immobilise a casualty before winching aboard a dustoff helicopter

Sunray

Radio term for officer commanding; see OC

Superhook

CH-54 cargo helicopter; also known as sky crane

SVN

South Vietnam

Sweep

Tactical move through an area to check for bodies, wounded, equipment etc

Tail-end Charlie

Last person in a patrol, responsible for covering tracks backwards observation

Tan Tay Lan

Vietnamese for 'New Zealander'

TAOR

Tactical area of responsibility; unit's operating area; area around Nui Dat and other firebases

TCDD

2,3,7,8 tetrachlorodibenzodioxin

The Dat

Nui Dat, base of 1Australian Task Force (1ATF) combat units, as in 'heading back to the Dat'

TOD

Tour of duty (usually one year); period of time for a task or posting

Tracer bullets

Special bullets containing a phosphorous that burns brightly while in motion to show where they are going

Triangle

Easily understood shape of a harbour position; adapted as a drill for ambushes and halts

Troopie

Slang for ANZAC soldier

Uc Dai Loy

Vietnamese for 'Australian'

UH-1D

Model of US helicopter operated in Phouc Tuy province by 9 Squadron RAAF; see Iroquois

Uncle Ho

Nickname for Ho Chi Minh used by his supporters during the war and still widely used in Vietnam

USAF

United States Air Force

USMC

United States Marine Corps

USN

United States Navy

VCI

Viet Cong infrastructure; the covert cadres in villages

VHF

Very high frequency; radio frequency between 30-300 MHz

Victor

V Company RNZIR; there were successive company replacement drafts, each with a numeral to indicate order - V5 Coy was the fifth V Coy to arrive in Vietnam

Viet Cong (VC)

Armed forces of the communist National Liberation Front, more formally known as the People's Liberation Armed Forces

Viet Minh

National liberation movement formed by Hồ Chí Minh in 1941 to seek independence for Vietnam from France as well as to oppose the Japanese occupation

VIS

Vietnamese Information Service, responsible for interpretation and dissemination of South Vietnamese government programme and information

VNAF

(South) Vietnam Air Force; now defunct

VTSZ

Vung Tau special zone

Vung Tau Airlines

No. 35 Squadron RAAF, which flew Caribou aircraft

Vungers

Slang for Vung Tau

Wakey

Final day of service in Vietnam; from 'wake up and go home'

Webbing

See belt order

Whisky/Whiskey

W Coy RNZIR; there were successive company replacement drafts, each with a numeral to indicate order - W3 Coy was the third W Coy to arrive in Vietnam

White mice Derogatory name for South Vietnamese police; derived from their uniform of white helmets and gloves
White phosphorous Explosive round fired from artillery, mortar, or rockets, which dispersed thick smoke and caused serious burns; also known as willie peter

WIA

Wounded in action; see GSW

Willie peter

Nickname for white phosphorous explosives

WO

Warrant Officer Class 1; New Zealand Army rank; see NCO

WO2

Warrant Officer Class 2; New Zealand Army rank; see NCO

Zippo

Cigarette lighter

The terms in this glossary come from a number of sources, including 'Glossary', Australian War Memorial, accessed 24 April 2008 and 'Glossary of Words/Slang', W3 Company Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment, accessed 11 February 2008.

Many publications about Vietnam include useful lists of terms. See Further information

How to cite this page: 'Glossary', URL: http://www.vietnamwar.govt.nz/resources/glossary, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 16-Oct-2013

Comments

Oscar Deuce: Cessna 0-2 FAC aircraft //

Snake: AH-1 Cobra gunship helicopter //

Snakepit: Revetments at Vung Tau airfield where the Snakes were based //

Commando Vault: BLU-82 15,000 pound bomb dropped from a C130. ( "Instant helicopter pad") //

Vung Tau Airlines: No. 35 Squadron RAAF (Caribou)