Vietnam and the Turbulent Times Dictionary and Gazetteer

Compiled by Gary D. Moore - Copyright © 1994-2010
Contributions from Lt. Col. Dennis Gillem, Tony Kozlinski,
MSgt Rick Swain, USAF (Ret), and Lt. Col. Sandra K. Wilson

Alphabetical Index
(Click on a Letter)
1 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


Nam - or, the Nam. Slang for Vietnam among vets of that time.
Napalm - A jelly composed of various fatty acids and gasoline. Dropped at 100 feet for best effectiveness.
NCO - Non-Commissioned Officer; pay grades E-5 through E9.
NCOIC - Non-Commissioned Officer In Charge.
Ngo Dinh Diem - South Vietnamese President murdered by one of his military officers, November 2, 1963.
Ngo Dinh Nhu - Controversial sister-in-law of the early President of Vietnam, Diem.
Ngoc Link - The highest peak in South Vietnam.
Nguyen Ai Quoc - Ho Chi Minh's original name.
Nguyen Cao Key - A Vice-President of South Vietnam.
Nickel - Number 5, or half ounce.
Nine Rules of Conduct - Issued by MACV. Each person entering Vietnam (or SEA country) was given a card with these rules on it. These rules could be used against you at a military trial.
Nixon, Richard M. - U.S. President when the Vietnam War ended.
NLF - National Liberation Front.
No hear; No see; No know - The 3 No's of the North Vietnamese Army.
Noncom - Slang for an NCO.
Nouc Mam - Fermented fish, and sauce (it stinks to most westerners, but doesn't taste too bad). Nouc Mam (sauce) and rice was a food staple for the VC/NVA soldier.
Number One - Good or Best.
Number Ten - Worst.
NVA - North Vietnamese Army. Soldiers were paid $12 (US equivalent) per month no matter what rank.



OCS - Officer Candidate School.
OD - Olive Drab.
OJ - Opium soaked / laced marijuana cigarette.
OJT - On-The-Job-Training.
Olfractronic Personnel Detector - The farcical weapon used in VC tunnels (also termed People Sniffer).
Olsen, Betty and Eleanor Vetti - Female POWs.
One-O-Five - 105mm howitzer.
OP - Observation Post.
Op Order - Operation(s) order, sometimes, OPORD.
OPCON - Operational Control.
Operations, Vietnam - There were 45 U.S. operations that occurred from March 1965 through December 1967 in South Vietnam.

Oscar - Slang name for an RTO (Radio Telephone Operator).
OSI - Office of Special Investigations (USAF).
Otter - U-1, U.S. Army plane used for light transport in South Vietnam.
OV-10 - Bronco; a reconnaissance, close air support twin engine plane.



P-38 - A folding metal can opener that was approximately an inch-and-a-half long.
Pacification - A MACV proposal to win over the local Vietnamese populace.
Papa San - Older Vietnamese male.
Paris Peace Accord - Ended the U.S. involvement in Vietnam, and signed by Richard Nixon, January 1973.
Paris, France - The European city where the (Vietnam) peace talks were held. The main contention at the beginning of the Paris peace talks was the shape of the table.
Pathet Lao - Laotian Communist Guerrillas (Brothers to the North Vietnamese).
PAVN - People's Army of Vietnam (NVA).
PBR - Patrol Boat, River (was specifically designed for waters of Vietnam). Only 10% PBRs were removed from service because of combat damage.
PCS - Permanent Change of Station.
Peace Candidates - The name of candidates for government offices who did not believe the U.S. should be involved in the Vietnam War during the sixties and seventies.
Pedicab - A common mode of transportation in Vietnam with passengers (two) riding in the front.
Pentagon Papers - A secret study requested by President Johnson. The U.S. government disclosure fed fuel to the anti-war sediment in the U.S. (as well as the world). The writers of this document discouraged U.S. involvement in Vietnam.
Pepper, Hot - A tasty vegetable often available from farmers and markets that amazed the unwary and made them cry (tear), but livened up C-rations. The Thai-finger pepper is much, much, much hotter than any domestic U.S. pepper (as I found out from experience).
Peter Pilot - Helicopter co-pilot.
PFC - Private First Class.
Phased Departure - The governmental term for U.S. military troop withdrawal.
Pho - The Vietnamese breakfast beverage/soup made from water (broth), rice, pork, various vegetables (leeks, etc.), and Nouc Mam sauce (or any combination of the these).
Phoenix - See: Operations.
Phonetic Alphabet - Used in communications (radio and land line).

Letter Old Nato
A Able Alpha
B Baker Bravo
C Charlie Charlie
D Dog Delta
E Easy Echo
F Fox Fox-Trot
G George Golf
H How Hotel
I Item India
J Jig Juliet
K King Kilo
L Love Lima
M Mike Mike
N Nancy November
O Obeo October
P Peter Papa
Q Queen QueBec
R Roger Romeo
S Sugar Sierra
T Tare Tango
U Uncle Uniform
V Victor Victor
W William Whiskey
X X-Ray X-Ray
Y Yoke Yankee
Z Zebra Zula

Piasters or Ps - South Vietnamese currency (slang was Ps).
Pierce Arrow - See: Operations.
Pig - Slang for the M-60 machine gun. Or, the domestic farm animal consumed by Vietnamese with rice and sauce.
Platoon - A military unit compressed of approximately 40 personnel.
PLF - Parachute Landing Fall.
Pleiku - A city in the midst of the Central Highlands geographic region.
Plt - Platoon.
Pogue - A derogatory name for rear echelon personnel.
Point - The name for the first man on patrol in a squad (or unit).
Poncho - A military issue garment used to keep military personnel (relatively) dry during rains in South East Asia. Green and (supposedly) water proof.
Poor man's subway system - VC/NVA tunnel system in Vietnam.
Pop Art - The type of art that was popular during the early sixties. It could be seen in GIs quarters in the U.S., and Vietnam during the war (but, was not liked by lifers). Andy Whorlhall was one of the most famous Pop artists.
Poppy - A South East Asian plant from which heroin is made.
POW - Prisoner Of War. The POWs who refused to talk to Jane Fonda were tortured when she visited Hanoi in 1972.
POW/MIA - Prisoner Of War/Missing In Action. February 23, 1973 - The first of several POW/MIAs were released (but not all). Betty Olsen and Eleanor Vetti were female POWs (Red Cross workers) who were later killed. The vast majority of POW/MIAs are pilots. The Air Force has the most POW/MIAs.
Powder room - The latrine for U.S. women in Vietnam.
PRC-25 - The portable FM radio used in Vietnam.
PRC-77 - (The Monster) A radio used in Vietnam with a secure frequency.
Profile - A medical excuse from duty.
Provider - C-123. The plane used in Operation Ranch Hand that dumped 11,000 lbs of Agent Orange (defoliant) over 300 acres in just four minutes.
Provinces - South Vietnam is divided in to these defined geographic areas.
PSP - Perforated Steel Plating. Used for construction projects from airstrips to bridges to helicopter landing pads.
Psychedelic Drugs - The class of drugs that (supposedly) expanded the mind.
PT - Physical Training.
PT76 - Soviet amphibious tank.
PTSD - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (Dysfunction). A psychological condition that occurs after a stressful situation (e.g., war, accident, rape, robbery, etc.). PTSD is characterized by anxiety, depression, guilt, sorrow (or grief), a sense of shame, death anxiety, panic, low self-esteem, rage, and/or any combination of these. Treatment varies with the severity, and willingness of the person to seek help.
Pugil Stick Training - Prepared military personnel for bayonet fighting.
Punji Stick - A sharpened bamboo stick meant to be stepped on by non-VC.
PX - Postal Exchange.
PZ - Pickup Zone (helicopter).



Quang Tri - South Vietnamese Province just below the DMZ.
Quantitative Indices - Body counts. This is what Robert McNamara used to run the Vietnam War.



R&R - Rest and recreation.
Ranch Hand - See: Operations.
Rappel - Descend a rope.
Rat - A meat staple that was dried and sold in markets throughout South East Asia. This wild creature could kill a cat in the U.S., and give a domestic U.S. dog a hard time (most people in the U.S. did not believe stories about these rodents even though most were true). An uninvited guest (rodent) in most bunkers.
Reaction Force - See: Blues.
Recon - Reconnaissance.
Red Bird - Nickname for the Cobra, AG-1H assault helicopter.
Red Cross - This organization had more women stationed in Vietnam than three branches of the U.S. military (excluding the Army). Held the contact for U.S. military personnel who needed to get a message State-side.
Red Sand - The distinct soil coloration of the Can Ranh Bay region.
Redball - Enemy high speed trail or road.
Redlegs - Slang term for artillerymen.
Reporters - Many in the U.S. Government and military believed them to be the other enemy during the Vietnam War.
Rest & Repose - The name for U.S. Navy hospitals in Vietnam.
Revetment - Sandbagged or earthen barrier.
Rice - Main product and staple food of the Vietnamese. The basis of the economy of Vietnam. Rice & Rubber are the major export crops of Vietnam.
Rice Beetle - A dark colored bug that many considered delectable eating in South East Asia. Most often found around rice paddies.
Rice Paddy - The common gardening spot for the major crop grown in Vietnam. Dikes surround these water filled areas.
RIF - Reduction In Force.
Recon In Force (in Vietnam).
Ring Knocker - A West Point grad.
River Rat - Navy patrol boats and Seawolf choppers were in this group.
Rock 'n' roll - Fire a weapon (usually an M-16) on full automatic.
Rocks - Military personnel from Republic of Korea (ROK).
Roger - Radio communications term for understand or agree.
ROK - Republic of Korea.
Rolling Thunder - See: Operations.
Roman Catholic - The religion of the people that held 95% of the wealth, but only comprised about 5% of the population in South Vietnam.
ROTC - Reserve Officer Training Course. The principle source of commissioned officers in all services.
Roui - A thin, long worm that is harvested (twice a year) and considered a delicacy.
Round-eyes - A slang name for American women.
Route 1 - The name of the highway that went through Hue.
Route 9 - The road from Hue to Khe Sanh (impassable because of the VC/NVA). It continued on to Quang Tri.
RPD - Communist standard issue machine gun (replaced by the AK-47), 7.62mm.
RPG - Rocket Propelled Grenade (B-40 - Chinese).
RTO - Radio Telephone Operator.
RVN - Republic of Vietnam.
Ruck or Rucksack - A backpack.
Rules of Engagement - A rather arbitrary set of rules that seemed to consistently change at the whim of politics.
Rumor Control - An amazingly accurate source of information prior to an event occurring.
Rusk, Dean - U.S. Secretary of State in 1966.
Russia - Supplied 90% of war materials used by North Vietnam during the war. Monitored B-52 bombing runs from Guam to North Vietnam from fishing trawlers.



S & D - Search and Destroy. This was the tactic of General Westmoreland.
Saigon - The name of the present day Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, previously, the capital of South Vietnam.
SAM - Surface to Air Missile.
Sandpan - A common means of river transportation for the Vietnamese.
Screaming Eagles - 101st Airborne (U.S. Army).
Script - See: MPC
SDS - Students for a Democratic Society. A dissident group that two University of Michigan students formed. (These two young students were responsible for creating the Port Huron (Michigan) manifesto.)
Sea King - SH-3A was used extensively by the U.S. Navy for sea rescue.
Seafood - A common food staple (eels, fish, etc.) consumed by Vietnamese.
Seasprite - UH-2C sea rescue helicopter used by the U.S. Navy.
Search and Destroy, or S&D - An operational method used to ravage enemy strongholds, but not occupy an area.
SEATO - South East Asian Treaty Organization.
Segregation now... segregation forever! The slogan of Governor George Wallace when he campaigned for the U.S. Presidency. He later said that he didn't believe this, it was just politics.
Shape Charge - An explosive device that detonates in a predetermined direction.
Shake-'n-bake - A soldier who went to basic training and AIT, then to NCO school and arrived in country as an NCO with relatively no time in service.
Satchel Charge - An explosive device used in VC/NVA tunnels.
Shawnee - CH-21 helicopter.
Short - Few days remaining in service, or Vietnam.
Signal 300 - Code for enemy attack.
Sihanouk, Prince - The leader of Cambodia who was sometimes a friend to the U.S., but basically a communist.
Sihanoukville (Kampot) - The Cambodian Port were arms shipments were delivered to the VC/NVR.
Sijan, Captain Lance P. - The only Air Force Academy graduate to win the Congressional Medal of Honor (he died in a POW camp). A hall is dedicated to Captain Sijan at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Sin Loi - Vietnamese (slang) for sorry, that's too bad, or tough luck.
SITREP - Situation Report.
Six - The radio code name for the unit commander in Vietnam.
Skated - (As in, I skated) Have it easy; normally in the rear.
SKS - Communist Simonov semiautomatic rifle used by VC/NVA, 7.62mm.
Sky Pilot - The slang name for a chaplain in Vietnam.
Skycrane - CH-54 helicopter.
Skyhawk - A-4 jet.
Skyraider - A1-E plane.
Slackman - Second man in a patrol, directly behind the point.
SLAM - Search, Locate, Annihilate, Monitor.
Slick - UH-1D helicopter; troop carrying helicopter.
Smack - Heroin.
Smoke - Marijuana.
Snake - Slang for a Cobra gunship.
SNCC - Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee. Stokley Carmichael was its leader in 1966. The organization was originally non-violent.
SOG - Studies & Observation Group (or, Special Operations Group).
SOI - Signal Operating Instructions contained call signs and frequencies of most military units in Vietnam.
SOP - Standard Operating Procedure.
Soul Alley - The section of Saigon that catered almost exclusively to African-Americans.
Soul Brother - A black (African American).
South China Sea - The body of water directly East of Vietnam
Special Capital Zone - The name of the area around Saigon.
Spider Hole - An enemy (VC) firing from the opening of a tunnel complex.
Spooky - AC-47 also known as Puff The Magic Dragon, equipped with several miniguns.
Square - A cigarette.
Squad - A military unit of twelve (12) personnel.
SR-71 - A U.S. top secret spy plane used during the Vietnam era (if you saw it, you never saw it).
SS Columbia Eagle - A munitions ship that was hijacked to Cambodia, then returned because the Cambodian government found they couldn't use the equipment on board.
Stand Down - Return from the field to a fire base or base camp to rest and resupply.
Starfighter - F-104 jet.
Starlifter - C-141 jet.
Starlight scope - Night vision scope.
Starlite - See: Operations.
Steak - Rarely eaten by South Vietnamese. Cattle were not raised because of limited land availability.
Steel pot - A helmet.
Strak - Adherence to strict military code, and dress.
Stratofortress - B-52 jet.
Super Constellation - C-121. WWII vintage plane rigged with radar and electronics. The EC-121 (Early-Warning-Radar equipped plane) broadcast a code yellow when it detected movement of enemy aircraft in North Vietnam.
Supersabre - F-100 jet.
Surrender - The South Vietnamese surrendered on April 30, 1975, to the VC/NVA.



T-Day - The day for termination of hostilities in Vietnam during July 1968.
Tabasco (Hot) Sauce - U.S. product used by Vietnamese rather than Nouc Mam, or in addition to Nouc Mam. Also used by U.S. military personnel to liven up the flavor of C-Rations.
Tadpole - Nickname for the OH-6 helicopter.
Tarmac - The hard surface of landing strips, helipads, etc.
Tay Nguyen - The Vietnamese name for the Central Highlands.
Tay Ninh - The first jump site of (NRVN) combat troops in Vietnam, 1963.
TC - Tactical Commander.
TCDD - Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (also 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin). A family of dioxins that contain four (4) chlorine atoms each.
TDY - Temporary Duty.
Tea - The favorite beverage of the Vietnamese people.
Tee-tee - Very small or little.
Ten-Forty-Nine - Military personnel transfer request form.
Tet - The beginning of the Vietnamese New Year. January 31, 1968 - The first invasion of Saigon occurred (the beginning of Tet). A turning point with U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Approximately 60% of the North Vietnamese Army were presumed to be destroyed during the 1968 Tet. This offensive left approximately 14,000 Vietnamese civilians dead.
Thich Quang Duc - A Buddhist monk who burnt himself to death in June 1968 over policies imposed by the South Vietnamese government.
Thump gun (or thumper) - M-79 Grenade Launcher.
Thunderchief - F-105 jet.
TI - Training Instructor.
Tieu-uy - Vietnamese for 2nd Lieutenant.
Tieu-ta - Vietnamese for Major.
Tiger Suit - The camouflage suits worn by South Vietnamese military.
TL - Team Leader.
TOC - Tactical Operations Center.
Toe popper - U.S. antipersonnel (plastic explosive) mine designed to wound rather than kill.
Tonkin Gulf Incident - Two US Navy destroyers, the USS Maddox and USS Turner Joy, were fired upon by North Vietnamese PT boats, August 2, 1964. This began the U.S. involvement in Vietnam in a major way. The USS Maddox ship was boarded by several anti-war women during the Summer of 1966 while in dry dock in California. (My brother, Bernard "Bud" Moore was a gunners mate aboard the Maddox during this fateful attack. GDM)
Top, or Top Sergeant. Normally, a First Sergeant or Sergeant Major.
Tracer - An electronically equipped Navy plane. A bullet or shell that leaves a trail of smoke or fire.
Triage - The medical term meaning sorting for treatment of wounded often performed by nurses in Vietnam.
Troops - U.S. troop strength at the peak of the Vietnam War was 542,000 in-country military personnel.
Tropical Monsoon - The climate of Vietnam.
Trung-uy - Vietnamese for 1st Lieutenant.
Trung-ta - Vietnamese for Lieutenant Colonel.
Tu Do - (Two Doe) The most famous street in Saigon. In Vietnamese it means, freedom.
Tunnel Rat - A person who crawled into VC tunnel systems.
Turtles - Slang term used by U.S. nurses in Vietnam for replacements because they took so long to get there.
Typhoon - Asian name for a hurricane.



U2 - A spy plane located in Saigon area used to photograph SAM sites, etc., in North Vietnam during the early part of the Vietnam War. Gary Powers was shot down in this type of plane over Russia in the 60s.
UCMJ - Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Uncle Ho - Ho Chi Minh, the leader of North Vietnam.



Vann, General John Paul - Characterized the war in Vietnam with this statement, A bright and shining lie.
VC - Viet Cong; Vietnamese Communist.
VC/NVA soldier - Profile: 23 years old, 5'3" tall, 115-120 lbs., Buddhist, and single.
Veterans - Vietnam and Era. The average age of the U.S. male (G.I.) in Vietnam was 19, and not eligible to vote. 82% of Vietnam (and Era) Vets believe that the political leaders did not want the U.S. to win the war.
Vetti, Eleanor and Betty Oslo - Female POWs.
Viet Minh - Ho Chi Minh created this party in 1941.

Vietnam Monument - (the Wall) in Washington D.C. was dedicated Veteran's Day, 1982.
Vietnamese - 25% of the rural (Vietnamese) population became refugees during the war. 518,000 were (estimated to be) killed during the war.
Vietnamization - The plan by Nixon to turn the war over to the South Vietnamese military while the U.S. withdrew from the conflict with honor.
Vunh Tau - A city at the mouth of the Mekong River. It was the location of a 60 foot (U.S. military) communications dish that sent messages all over Vietnam and S.E.A. The 173rd Airborne first landed here in May 1965.
Vo Nguyen Giap - The North Vietnamese General commanding the siege of Khe Sanh. He was also the commander at Dien Bien Phu in 1954.
VooDoo - F-101, a high flying jet used to photograph North Vietnam.
VR - Visual Reconnaissance.
VVAW - Vietnam Veterans Against the War. On April 23, 1971, this group marched in Washington D.C. and let the world know that they "...identified the enemy. He is us." They tossed their combat medals on the Capital lawn.



WAC - Woman's Army Corp. Female U.S. Army personnel not in the medical branches.
War of Deception - The name used by many in the media (and young people) for the war in Vietnam.
Waste - Kill.
Watts - A section of Los Angeles that erupted in race riots in August 1965.
Weathermen - The name of the radical (and often violent) group in the sixties.
Weed - Marijuana.
Westmoreland, William - The U.S. Commander of military forces in Vietnam until August 1968.
White Bird - A LOH (OH-6 helicopter).
White Mice - South Vietnamese Secret Police, who wore white uniforms (on the streets of Saigon), and were very, very corrupt.
White Whale - The nickname of the C-123 used by General Westmoreland.
Whitewalls - A military haircut.
WIA - Wounded In Action.
Wild Weasel - F-105F jet.
Willie Peter, Willie Pete, Willie Papa, WP - A white phosphorus grenade, or artillery round.
Wise Men - U.S. Government officials Dean Acheson, McGeorge Bundy, and Generals Ridgeway and Taylor.
Withdrawal - All U.S. troops were to be withdrawn from Vietnam by August 1972.
Women -

Woodstock - A music festival held during the Summer of 1969 at a farm near this city in New York State.
World, The - The United States, home, or anywhere other than Vietnam.



X-Ray - the call sign used in the 25th Inf Div for infantry RTOs (Radio Telephone Operator).
X-Ray Team - Communications relay unit.
Xe Pong - The river flowing from Laos through Khe Sanh and Quang Tri.
XO - Executive Officer.
Xuan Thuy - The North Vietnamese delegate to the Paris Peace Talks.



Yippie - Youth International Party. A radical anti-war group lead by Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman.
Young bohemians - Denoted wanderers, or advocates of an unconventional life style. Another name for the hippie (self-indulgent) generation coined by media, and leaders of many anti-war groups when they saw the demise of the hippie (drop out) life style.



Zap - Kill.
Zippo - A flame thrower.
Zippo Raid - Igniting of straw huts in suspect villages by military units.
Zoomie - During the Vietnam era, Air Force personnel.

Additions, comments, suggestions, and corrections, or for reproduction (posting) permission,
please contact:

Gary D. Moore
SSgt USAF 1968-1972
5161 Howard Road
Smiths Creek, MI 48074-2023

Update: January 9, 2015