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

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1ALSG1st Australian Logistic Support Group, based at Vung Tau
1ATF1st Australian Task Force; brigade sized formation based at Nui Dat
161161 Battery RNZA (Royal New Zealand Artillery)
2 (or 4 or 6) RAR/NZ (ANZAC)Anzac battalion in which NZ companies served
2ICSecond in command
2,4-D2,4 dichloro-phenoxyacetic acid; component of Agent Orange
2,4,5-T2,4,5 trichloro-phenoxyacetic acid; component of Agent Orange
ACPOAssistant Command Post Operator
AD-4 SkyraiderSingle-seat carrier-based dive bomber and torpedo carrier flown by the USN, USAF, and VNAF during the Vietnam War
AdjutantAn officer who assists a more senior officer with the organisation, administration, and discipline for a battalion or regiment
AdminAdministration; preparing for and maintaining personal and unit readiness for operations
Agent BlueWater-based herbicide; a non-systematic desiccant used primarily against grasses, taking effect in 24 - 48 hours and killing leaves in 2 - 4 days
Agent OrangeOil-based herbicide; a systematic defoliant effective against broadleaf vegetation, achieving maximum effect in 4 - 6 weeks, with a duration of approximately 12 months
Agent WhiteWater-based herbicide; a systematic defoliant effective against broadleaf vegetation, achieving maximum effect in 6 - 8 weeks, with a duration of approximately 12 months
AK47North Vietnamese Army (NVA) or Viet Cong (VC) semi or fully automatic assault weapon using 7.62mm short ammo
AlbatrossCall-sign of Royal Australian Airforce (RAAF) Iroquois helicopter; also known as a 'Huey'
Anti-personnel minesMines 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
AmbushAttempt to kill from cover without warning, planned or done quickly
AmmoAmmunition, usually bullets but including grenades and other carried munitions
ANPRC-25Very high frequency (VHF) portable radio used at the sharp end for most variety of communication – called '25 set'
ANPRC-77Improved VHF man portable radio; gradually replaced the 25 set – called '77 set'
ANZACAustralian 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
AOArea of operations; terrain ground forces patrolled and fought to dominate
APAnti-personnel mine, as in 'AP mine'
APCArmoured personnel carrier: M113 for troops, M125 mortars, M548 cargo, M577 ACV, M579 fitters
ArcArea a weapon or soldier was required to cover in an all-round protective posture
Arc light operationsCode name for the devastating aerial raids of B52 Stratofortresses against enemy positions in South-East Asia
Artillery forward observersArtillery men attached to rifle companies; acted as middle men between artillery and soldiers, giving co-ordinates to artillery at base
ArtyArtillery of any calibre, tracked or towed; most common included 105mm, 155mm, 8-inch howitzers, 40mm 'dusters'
ASCOServices Canteens Organisation (Australian Canteen Service)
ARVNArmy of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnamese government forces)
ATFAustralian Task Force; see 1ATF
AWOLAbsent without leave, unauthorised absence from duty or place
Back packLoad 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
BandolierShoulder-carried ammunition pouch
Base campSemi-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
BCBattery Commander
BeehiveDirect-fire artillery round which incorporated steel darts (flechettes), used as primary base defence munition against ground attack
Belt orderPersonal 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
BirdAny aircraft, usually helicopters
BirddogSmall fixed-wing reconnaissance aircraft used to spot for ground-attack aircraft, especially Cessna L-19/O-1
BnBattalion; military unit of around 500 - 1500 men usually consisting of between 2 and 6 companies and typically commanded by a lieutenant colonel
BODBase Ordnance Depot
BodycountTerm borrowed from US forces to describe the success or ferocity of engagements, i.e. 'there was a high bodycount of enemy killed'
Booby trapImprovised trap designed to maim or severely injure an individual
BookooMuch; derived from the French word 'beaucoup'
Boom boomSex; 'bookoo boom boom' meant 'much sex'
Boom boom houseSlang for brothel
BooniesTerm borrowed from US forces; see bush
BossInformal bush title for an officer; alternative address to 'sir'
BoundaryEdge of AO; to be close to or to cross a boundary required permission, called a 'mousetrap'
BQMSBattery Quarter Master
Brass upConcentrated fire into an area
BrewHot drink, as in 'want a brew?'; coffee, milk and two sugar was called 'NATO standard'
BRIAMBritish Advisory Mission Vietnam; advised government of South Vietnam (GVN) on hamlet programs and counter insurgency generally; 'Malaya experts'
BrigadeBasic 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 FreighterUtility transport aircraft; used by RNZAF for supply missions to South Vietnam 1968-1975
BroncoUS OV-10 twin-engine aircraft armed with rockets and miniguns; used by the USAF and USMC for forward air control and scouting missions
Brownie filmToilet paper
BSMBattery Sergeant Major
BundsRoyal Australian Artillery (RAA) and Royal New Zealand Artillery (RNZA) name for sandbag defensive artillery positions created by small bulldozers
BurstControlled firing of five or more rounds of automatic fire, more depending on urgency
BushJungle; area outside the base perimeter where fighting took place
BushrangerAustralian Iroquois helicopter gunship
B52 StratofortressLong-range, subsonic, jet-powered, strategic bomber operated by the United States Air Force (USAF) since 1955
C&CCommand 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
CadresSmall 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-signRadio code-word to identify or summon particular organisations or people for a radio conversation
CanisterAnti-personnel artillery or tank round containing flechette
CansUsually beer; 'in the can' meant arrested and locked up; see goffers
Cariboude Havilland Canada DHC-4 Caribou; a twin-engine light transport aircraft operated by the US Army, USAF and RAAF in Vietnam. 
Carpet-bombingHeavy, indiscriminate bombing of an area by plane, usually causing widespread destruction
CASEVACCasualty evacuation of injured soldiers from the field; see dustoff and MEDEVAC
CCRSFFCommander Central Region SEATO (South East Asia Treaty Organisation) Field Force
CenturionAustralian battle tank
ChalkGroup of personnel grouped together for travel
CharlieSlang for Viet Cong (VC); from radio designation 'victor charlie'
CheyenneMedium-sized high-speed observation helicopter
Chieu Hoi (Chew Hoy)'Open arms', programme that allowed VC to defect and receive money for surrendered weapons
ChinookLarge twin-rotor helicopter; see Geronimo
ChopperAny model of helicopter, usually US model Iroquois UH-1D troop lift and utility helicopter flown by allied forces Army Aviation or air force units
ChogesVietnamese people
CivviesCivilians; clothes when out of uniform
ClackerElectrical firing device used to detonate claymore mine; from sound made on use
ClaymoreUS model directional anti-personnel mine with 900 ball-bearings, electrically fired singly or in a bank
ClickKilometre, as in 'travel 6-clicks south'
Commando VaultBLU-82 15,000 pound bomb dropped from a C130
CommsCommunications, verbal or electronic, as in 'get comms with'[call-sign]'
ConexContainer Export (used as platform for claymore mine control posts); see claymore
ContactEngagement, often sudden, with enemy; cry/radio message used to warn that enemy is engaged, as in 'contact front'
CoordCo-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
CoyCompany; organisation of soldiers for administrative and tactical reasons; usually commanded by a major
CoyoteSmall high-speed reconnaissance helicopter
CPCommand post
CPOCommand Post Operator
CQMSCompany Quartermaster Sergeant; senior non-commissioned officer (NCO) responsible for stores and resupply
CrunchieAustralian slang for infantry, from the sound made by walking on gravel
CSMCompany Sergeant Major, senior other rank (OR) in company; 'right hand man' for officer commanding (OC)
C130US model tactical troop and cargo aircraft used extensively by USAF and RNZAF; known as 'Hercules'
C4Type of plastic explosive, commonly found inside claymore AP mine
DacronsNew 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
DapsoneDrug used by Australians and New Zealanders as a malaria suppressant, taken in combination with Paludrine
DAQMGDeputy Assistant Quartermaster General
DefoliantChemical sprayed or dusted on trees or plants to make leaves fall off
DFDefensive 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
DiggerSlang for Australian soldier
Div Loc BtyDivisional Locating Battery
Div PostalDivisional Postal Unit
Div Pro CoyDivisional Provost Company
Div Sal CoyDivisional Salvage Company
DMZDemilitarised Zone
DongVietnamese unit of currency
Double-tapSnap shooting technique where two rounds are quickly fired at the centre of a target before the firer changes position
DOWDied of wounds some time after being wounded
Drillsee IA
DTADivision 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 bagGround based personnel sensing devices
DusterM42 40mm self-propelled anti-aircraft gun; see M42
DustoffRadio code-word for removal of battle casualties from a contact, usually by helicopter
EbonyCall-sign for switchboard at 1 Australian Task Force (1ATF); could indicate specific officers/office, e.g. 'Ebony 12' as reference in correspondence
EngrEngineer; support troops used for construction, demolition or battlefield mine/booby trap clearance
EODExplosive Ordnance Disposal
ExtractionWithdrawal by air of troops from area of operation via helicopter; see AO
F4 Phantom IITwo-seat, twin-engined, long-range supersonic interceptor jet fighter/fighter-bomber flown in Vietnam by the USN and USAF
FACForward air controller, usually airborne, who could call for and direct air strikes
FDCFire-Direction Control Centre; place where requests for fire support were interpreted into specific information for ground artillery. Also co-ordinated artillery and mortar fire
FFIFree from infections; routine medical inspection to check for skin and other medical problems
Field dressingLarge cotton pad with strapping soldiers carried for emergency first aid to stop bleeding, usually taped to equipment such as rifle butts
FirebaseSemi-permanent defended location in an AO from which a unit supports operations with artillery and logistics
FiretrailLand clearing of bush to provide better observation of likely VC routes
FlechetteIndividual dart from either flechette artillery or tank round; each round contains several thousand individual flechettes designed to break up massed infantry assaults
FOOArtillery 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 scoutSoldier in front of platoon, seeking out likely enemy ambush sites and booby traps
FragFragmentation hand grenade
FraggingAssassination 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
FriendliesAustralian troops, allies, or anyone not on the other side
Friendly fireAir, artillery, or small arms fire from own forces mistakenly directed at own positions
FSCCFire Support Co-ordination Centre; artillery command post to manage fire from all deployed guns
FSPBFire support patrol base followed by a particular name, usually of a woman; see firebase
FWMAFFree World Military Assistance Forces (US, NZ, Australian, South Vietnamese and other allied forces)
GeronimoNickname for US CH-47 Chinook helicopter; based on aircraft call-signs
GINickname for American soldiers; from the term 'Government Issue' which was stamped on all equipment used by the soldiers
GofferCan of soft drink
GollockIssue machete, rarely used except in FSPB as the noise attracted enemy attention; see secateurs
GookSlang for Viet Cong; see VC
GPMGGeneral purpose machine gun, used at section level for fire support; see M60
GPOGun Position Officer; a lieutenant or captain responsible for a battery's technical tasks and for operating the battery command post
GreensGreen uniform designed for field wear
Ground clearancePermission given by land force commander for air or artillery clearance to fire/fly into or over his area of operations
GruntUS slang for infantry soldier, as in 'the only answer you get from a foot soldier is a grunt'
GSWGun shot wound
GunsArtillery; see arty
GVNGovernment of [South] Vietnam
Happy pillsAnti-malarial tablets
HarbourBush location where field troops rest and protect themselves
H&IHarassment and interdiction; unobserved artillery, mortar or air bombardment on locations which might be used by enemy forces, usually fired at night
HEHigh explosive; destructive force in artillery shells, mortar bombs, aerial bombs
Hepatitis rollBread roll baked locally
HerculesTransport aircraft; see C130
HexieHexamine or solid kerosene; British-made cooking tablet used mainly in Malaysia
Hoi ChanhViet Cong or North Vietnamese soldier who defects and joins the government of South Vietnam forces or ceases fighting against them; see Chieu Hoi
HoochieHouse, tent or other living space; from US slang; also known as hutchie
Hook intoTo attack aggressively
Hot ExtractionWithdrawal of troops from area of operation via helicopter while under enemy fire
Hot LZLanding zone under hostile fire
HQHeadquarters, at any level describes the command staff structure
HueyCobraAH-1 Cobra - two-bladed, single engine attack helicopter; also known as Snake
HutchieSmall nylon sheets rigged up to branches to provide shelter
IAImmediate action; instinctive drill such as ambush or contact
In countryIn Vietnam
INTREPIntelligence report on enemy locations, movement and intentions
IroquoisModel of US helicopter operated in Phouc Tuy province by 9 Squadron RAAF; see UH-1D
J [jay]Jungle; see bush
Jumping jackAnti-personnel mine; known by Americans as a 'bouncing betty'
Jungle penetratorHeavy bulb device with fold away seats, lowered from a helicopter by winch to extract people where a landing is not feasible
KFSKnife, fork, spoon, used with mess tins, preferably plastic to reduce noise in the bush
KIAKilled 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
KiwiNew Zealander; nickname used internationally and within New Zealand to describe people from New Zealand; derived from flightless bird native to New Zealand
L5105mm L5 pack howitzer gun used by 161 Battery in Vietnam, 1965-1967
LADLight aid detachment
LFTLight 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'
LiloAustralian model air mattress with inner air tubes
LOBLeft out of battle; personnel routinely rested from operations; see pogue
LOCSTATStatement of location of a force or activity, typically a coded grid reference
LPLanding point, single helicopter pad or area in bush capable of allowing one helicopter to land
LZLanding zone, capable of multiple helicopter landings and movements
MAINTDEMRoutine supply to field troops of essential items like food and water; see OPDEM
MEDCAPMedical 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
MEDEVACMedical evacuation
MedicMedical orderly or trained soldier who would provide medical support
MessDining hall; barbeque area
Mess tinsMetal dishes used to cook and eat meals; container for shaving water, etc
MFCMortar fire controller attached to infantry; mortar sections often accompanied companies in the bush; MFC directed artillery fire in absence of forward observation officer
MGMachine gun
MIDMentioned in despatches; lowest form of decoration
MinigunElectric 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
MohawkGrumman OV-1 Mohawk observation aircraft; designed for battlefield surveillance and light strike capabilities
MortarInfantry support weapon which fires bombs in a high trajectory that plummet onto target
MPCMilitary 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
MPOMedical Petty Officer
MugField cup used to heat food and drink
M2A2105mm howitzer gun used by 161 Battery in Vietnam, 1967-1971; also designated M101A1
M16US designed anti-personnel jumping mine; also known as a Jumping Jack
M16-A1US model 5.56mm lightweight personal rifle; see SLR
M18US model smoke grenade used for signalling; available in four colours – violet, green, yellow, and red
M18-A1Designation for claymore anti-personnel mine
M26US model fragmentation grenade
M4240mm self-propelled anti-aircraft gun, often used for point security, convoy escort or perimeter defence in Vietnam; also known as the Duster
M60US model general purpose machine gun
M72US model shoulder fired 72mm light shaped charge rocket used to attack bunkers
M79US model 40mm grenade launcher
M113Armoured personnel carrier designed to carry and position troops and supplies; used to transport the L5 pack howitzer guns of 161 Battery 1965-67
M125M113 variant; self-propelled armoured personnel carrier with 81mm mortar firing through large, circular roof hatch in hull rear
M548M113 variant; unarmoured cargo carrier
M577 ACVM113 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 fitterM113 variant; repair and recovery vehicle fitted with crane attachment
NapalmMixture 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
NashoAustralian national serviceman or two-year conscript
NCONon-commissioned officer; section commander; platoon sergeant type ranks
NDPNight defensive position; a small temporary base for supporting arms like tanks
NeptuneP-2 US Navy aircraft
NEWZADThe New Zealand Army Detachment Vietnam; engineer detachment which served in Vietnam, June 1964 - July 1965
Night hunterCo-ordinated radar, artillery and air cavalry
Night raidPlanned operation against an intelligence target
NitecapIntegrated civic action programme during darkness with particular emphasis on psychological operations
Nog/NoggieNZ/Australian slang for Vietnamese
NVANorth Vietnamese Army; regular army of North Vietnam
NZNew Zealand or New Zealander; see Kiwi
NZATTVNew Zealand Army Training Team Vietnam
NZV ForceNew Zealand Army Force (Vietnam)
OCOfficer commanding; also known as the company commander or sunray
OCTUOfficer Cadet Training Unit
O GroupOrders group; meeting of personnel to be tasked for future operations
OPDEMUrgent supply to field troops of ammunition and weapons; see MAINTDEM
Op(s)Operation (usually followed by a name); see AO
OROther ranks; soldiers who are not commissioned officers
OrionP-3 US Navy aircraft
Oscar DeuceCessna 0-2 Forward Air Control (FAC) aircraft
OTLPOne Time Letter Pad; a code book system used by patrols in the field; each page would be used only once
OUMCOtago University Medical Company
PadSee LP
PaludrineDrug used by Australians and New Zealanders in Vietnam as a malaria suppressant, taken in combination with Dapsone
PatrolActivity; selection of soldiers from three to company size on task in the bush
PCSlang for APC, as in 'mount that PC'
PEPlastic explosive such as C4
People snifferElectro-chemical device to detect humans
Pepper-potAdvance 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
PitHole dug or scraped in the ground as protection from incoming fire
PlPlatoon; military unit typically composed of two to four sections or squads and containing 30 - 50 soldiers
Pl comdPlatoon commander; usually an officer of lieutenant rank
Pl sgtPlatoon sergeant, responsible for platoon administration and deputising for commander
Picket dutySentry duty
PogueDerisory slang for someone permanently left out of battle; see LOB
POOPoint of Origin; map referencing system in which prearranged grid references on a map were used as a point of origin by jungle patrols
Pop smokeTo throw a coloured (red, yellow, or green) smoke grenade to assist helicopters identify correct landing place
PossumCall-sign for aircraft or helicopter of 161 Reconnaissance Flight
POWPrisoner of war
PtePrivate; lowest grade of trained soldier; also Gnr (gunner – artillery), Sig (signaller – Corps of Signals), Spr (sapper – engineers), Tpr (trooper – armoured corps)
Puff the magic dragonC-47 aircraft equipped with three mini-guns; see spooky
PunjiSharpened stick; see booby trap
PXPost 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 storeQuartermaster store; reserve stores in base area
RAARoyal Australian Artillery
RAAFRoyal Australian Air Force; helicopters and transports supporting 1st Australian Task Force (1ATF)
Ranch handTactical military project for aerial spraying of herbicides in South Vietnam
RankDesignation of experience and authority; see Pte, NCO, CQMS, CSM, OC
RAPRegimental aid post; first level medical facility
RARRoyal Australian Regiment; Australian infantry structure of nine battalions, three of which were designated ANZAC and had New Zealand companies
RavenUS UH-23 observation helicopter
RecceReconnaissance; US abbreviation was 'recon'
resupResupply; see MAINTDEM
RF/PFRegional force or popular force militia; part of ARVN; also known as ruff puffs
Rolling thunderUS air campaign against North Vietnam
RPGSoviet or Chinese model shoulder-fired rocket propelled grenade; used as local firepower by VC
RNZARoyal New Zealand Artillery
RNZAFRoyal New Zealand Air Force
RNZIRRoyal New Zealand Infantry Regiment
RNZNRoyal New Zealand Navy
RNZNVRRoyal New Zealand Naval Volunteer Reserve
RSVNRepublic of South Vietnam
RTNZ'Return to New Zealand' from overseas posting
R in CRest-in-country; a 48-hour recreational break at Peter Badcoe Club Vung Tau
R&CRest and convalescence; 5-day leave for NZers outside South Vietnam
R&RRest and recreation sponsored by US Forces; 5-days off outside South Vietnam
SapperLowest grade of field engineer; special force VC or NVA soldiers who penetrated bases to destroy infrastructure
SASSpecial Air Service, either Australian or New Zealand; lived on 'SAS Hill', the highest point in Nui Dat
ScoutFirst and second soldier in patrol; role to give early warning of danger
SEATOSouth East Asia Treaty Organisation
SecateursHand-held pruning shears used to remove bush during movement; see gollock
Shell scrapeMilitary earthwork used as a sleeping space for soldiers in the field
ShortTime still remaining to serve in a tour of duty
SigSignaller or radio operator; see Pte
SITREPSituation report, usually a coded radio message using a standard format
Sky craneSee superhook
SLRBritish model 7.62mm semi-automatic self-loading personal rifle; see M16-A1
SlickSingle helicopter movement; slang for an individual troop carrying helicopter
SiouxUS OH-13 observation helicopter
SnakeAH-1 Cobra - two-bladed, single engine attack helicopter; also known as HueyCobra
SnakepitRevetments at Vung Tau airfield where AH-1 Cobra gunship helicopters were based
SnatchRapidly planned and executed operation to exploit information obtained from enemy
SnoopyUS aircraft tasked to scan jungle with a range of human detecting sensors
SOPStandard operating procedure; agreed way to do certain actions or reports
Spider holesShoulder-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 teamSmall group of field engineers attached to rifle units for mine, booby trap or obstacle clearing tasks
SplintexTerm for round filled with flechettes
SpookyCall sign for C-47 gunship; see puff the magic dragon
SqnSquadron, military subunit of company equivalent; air force unit
StagRostered sentry duty
Stand-toPeriod at dusk and dawn when all activity ceases; change from day to night routine or vice versa
StickGroup of men ready to board helicopters
Stokes litterRigid stretcher with straps to immobilise a casualty before winching aboard a dustoff helicopter
SunrayRadio term for officer commanding; see OC
SuperhookCH-54 cargo helicopter; also known as sky crane
SVNSouth Vietnam
SweepTactical move through an area to check for bodies, wounded, equipment etc
Tail-end CharlieLast person in a patrol, responsible for covering tracks backwards observation
Tan Tay LanVietnamese for 'New Zealander'
TAORTactical area of responsibility; unit's operating area; area around Nui Dat and other firebases
TCDD2,3,7,8 tetrachloro-dibenzodioxin
The DatNui Dat, base of 1Australian Task Force (1ATF) combat units, as in 'heading back to the Dat'
TODTour of duty (usually one year); period of time for a task or posting
Tracer bulletsSpecial bullets containing a phosphorous that burns brightly while in motion to show where they are going
TriangleEasily understood shape of a harbour position; adapted as a drill for ambushes and halts
TroopieSlang for ANZAC soldier
Uc Dai LoyVietnamese for 'Australian'
UH-1DModel of US helicopter operated in Phouc Tuy province by 9 Squadron RAAF; see Iroquois
Uncle HoNickname for Ho Chi Minh used by his supporters during the war and still widely used in Vietnam
USAFUnited States Air Force
USMCUnited States Marine Corps
USNUnited States Navy
VCIViet Cong infrastructure; the covert cadres in villages
VHFVery high frequency; radio frequency between 30-300 MHz
VictorV 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 MinhNational liberation movement formed by Hồ Chí Minh in 1941 to seek independence for Vietnam from France as well as to oppose the Japanese occupation
VISVietnamese Information Service, responsible for interpretation and dissemination of South Vietnamese government programme and information
VNAF(South) Vietnam Air Force; now defunct
VTSZVung Tau special zone
Vung Tau AirlinesNo. 35 Squadron RAAF, which flew Caribou aircraft
VungersSlang for Vung Tau
WakeyFinal day of service in Vietnam; from 'wake up and go home'
WebbingSee belt order
Whisky/WhiskeyW 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 miceDerogatory name for South Vietnamese police; derived from their uniform of white helmets and gloves
White phosphorousExplosive round fired from artillery, mortar, or rockets, which dispersed thick smoke and caused serious burns; also known as willie peter
WIAWounded in action; see GSW
Willie peterNickname for white phosphorous explosives
WOWarrant Officer Class 1; New Zealand Army rank; see NCO
WO2Warrant Officer Class 2; New Zealand Army rank; see NCO
ZippoCigarette 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


Submitted by Rob9 on Sunday, 22 February 2009 - 1:09pm


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)

How to cite this page: ' Glossary ', URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 23-May-2024