Terminology of the Vietnam War

Albatross: Call-sign of the RAAF Iroquois (Huey)

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.
Arty: Artillery

Baggy Arse: Private soldier.

Base Camp: Semi-permanent field headquarters and centre for a given unit usually within that unit’s tactical areas responsibility. A unit may operate in or away from its base camp. Base camps usually contain all or part of a given unit’s support elements.
Battalion: Organizational institution in the Army. Commanded by a Lieutenant Colonel, an infantry battalion usually has around 800 soldiers.
Beehive: A direct-fire artillery round which incorporated steel darts (fleshettes), used as a primary base defence munition against ground attack.

Bird: Any aircraft, usually helicopters.

Bookoo: Much

Boom Boom: Sex. Bookoo Boom Boom: much sex.

Borneo Design Battery – RNZA nomenclature for a form of artillery battery using only four guns instead of the normal six. Specifically, it meant four, L-5 (105mm) pack howitzers served by 89 gunners, 13 reinforcements and a 17 man logistical Det. 161 Bty RNZA was also allowed a 5th tube when it deployed to VN which was supposed to be a spare, however it was used as part of the Bty makeup almost from the start and without the permission of the NZ Govt, as the extra firepower was needed and prudent. The Borneo configuration was standard for the 161 Bty RNZA from 1965 until 2Jul66, when a six gun battery was finally authorized. Later, the US M2A2 105MM Howitzer replaced the lighter, shorter-ranged and less durable L-5s. Until the arrival of Chinook helicopters in large numbers, the New Zealander’s L-5 was the only howitzer deployable by UH-1.
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.

Brass Up: Concentrated fire into an area.

Bushranger: Australian Iroquios Gunship.

Bunds: RAA/RNZA name for sandbag defensive artillery positions employed because it was impossible to dig down in their AO without striking water.

Charlie: Viet cong (VC)

Cheap Charlie: Used by Vietnamese to describe someone who would not spend money on them or buy anything from them.

Company: Organizational institution commanded by a Major and consisting of four or more platoons; varied widely in size according to mission.

Contact.: To be in a fire fight with enemy.

Chieu Hoi: (chew hoy) Vietnamese meaning enemy soldier who surrendered under the SVN government program for surrendered soldiers.

Choges: Vietnamese people.

Di di mau: (diddy mow -ow as in cow) go away or any other expletive meaning same.

DMZ: Demilitarized zone.

Dustoff: Nickname for a medical evacuation helicopter or mission.

Firefight or Contact: Exchange of fire between opposing units.

Friendlies: Australian 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 our own forces mistakenly directed at our positions.

Gat: A rifle.

Goffer: Can of soft drink.(5-10 cents).

Gollick: A machete.

Gonk: Dozing.

Grunt: Popular nickname for an infantryman in Vietnam; supposedly derived from the sound one made from lifting up his pack.

Hanoi Hilton: Nickname American prisoners of war used to describe the Hoa Loa Prison in Hanoi.

Hepatitis roll: Bread roll baked locally.

Hootchy: Tent, house, living quarters or a native hut.

Hot LZ: Landing zone under hostile fire.

Hook into: To attack aggressively.

Hutchie: (hootchie) small tent used by Australian soldiers.

In Country: In Vietnam.

J: The jungle.

Kiwis: Nickname for the troops of the New Zealand Artillery (161 Bty) and Infantry.

Klick, K: Short for kilometre (.62 miles).

Munger: Food.

Light Up: To fire on the enemy.

LZ: Landing zone.

Nasho: National serviceman.

Nog or Noggy: A vietnamese person.

Number One: Good.

Number Ten: Bad or Very bad.

Platoon: Approximately 30 men belonging to a company. Commanded by a Lieutenant, a platoon is an organizational unit composed of three or more sections.

POW: Prisoner of War.

Pogo: A person not involved in combat. Usually stayed in protected areas.

Possum: Radio callsign for Bell Sioux helicopter.

Prop: Stop, halt.

Reg: A regular (full time) soldier.

Reo: A soldier reinforcement for a unit.

Recon: Reconnaissance.

Rock ‘n’ Roll: To put a M16A1 rifle on full automatic fire.

R & R: Rest-and-recreation vacation taken during a one-year duty tour in Vietnam. Out-of-country R & R was at Bangkok, Hawaii, Tokyo, Australia, Hong Kong, Manila, Penang, Taipei, Kuala Lampur, or Singapore. In-country R & R locations were at Vung Tau.

RVN: Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam).

Search and Destroy: Offensive operations designed to find and destroy enemy forces rather than establish permanent government control.

Tail-end Charlie: Last man in patrol.

The Dat: Nui Dat – base area for the Task Force.

Splintex: The Australian/New Zealand Artillery’s anti-personnel, 105mm cannon round that was apparently equivalent to the US Beehive round.

Skipper: Leader or commander of a platoon.

Slopes: A Vietnamese person.

Sunray: Commander of that unit radio callsign.

Short Timer: Individual with little time remaining in Vietnam.

Sortie: One aircraft making one take-off and landing to conduct the mission for which it was scheduled.

Stand-Down: Period of rest and refitting in which all operational activity, except for security, is stopped.

Stand To: Period where troops were on full alert with weapons ready. Normally conducted at first light and last light daily.

Uc Dai Loi: (ook-daa-loy) Australian.

Vungers: Vung Tau.

Tin Trunk: The RNZA nomenclature for the firing artillery registrations of pre-set Defensive Targets (DF task registrations), or Delta Tangos, as they were known by US forces.

Vietnam Shower: RNZA Gunner’s nickname for a bathing technique used during the mid May-Nov Monsoon season. Involved stripping inside a tent, stepping out to get wet, stepping inside again to lather and then stepping out again to rinse.

Wakey: The final night before an event like going home.

Wallaby: RAAF Caribou aircraft, known as “Wallaby Airlines”.

Warburtons: Nickname for the Nui Dinh and Nui Thi Vai hills. Lines from a song which went’ “don’t go near Warburton mountain if you are looking for a fight”.

Weapon Pit: A pit dug in the ground with sandbag protection and sometimes an elevated roof of sheet-metal, reinforced with sandbags. Sized for one or two troops, fighting holes might be dispersed around a company or battery area for defensive use during a ground attack.

White Mice: South Vietnamese police; nickname came from their uniform white helmets and gloves.

Xin Loi: (sin loy) sorry about that.