Wednesday, February 27, 2019

The Vietnam Experience....and slang

whoa! Mistake. Did not mean to publish yet, not finished!

So, a disclaimer for all the Vietnam War posts. I am aware that there are many different experiences, and that my posts reflect a middle class white upbringing. The African American and Native American experiences were different, as are individual experiences. Movies tend to portray bias, which is important to keep in mind.  There are a few that address the Black experience (I love Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On") and the film Dead Presidents. Others show mixed platoons and sometimes try to illustrate dynamics. I've not seen or read of anything dealing with the Native American experience. Feel free to enlighten me....but the concept of "warrior" is important.

Meantime history has erased things we'd prefer not to remember, but please let's not go into romanticizing and hero-izing that war. There is much to be learned still.

and slang....
I'm gonna just focus on the slang I like best, since there is so much of it!

bird dog --  forward observer, often in small fixed wing aircraft

blooper --  M-79, grenade launcher, for the sound it makes?

body count --  well, it wasn't about taking territory so it must have been about killing....

boonie hat -- soft, OD, remember Gilligan? worn by boonie rats out in the boonies

boo-coo --  many or much (from French)

boom-boom --  sex

brown water navy --  Navy ships, Mekong River

charlie -- the enemy

cherry --  new guy in unit AKA FNG, fucking new guy, newbie, fresh meat

CIB --  combat infantry badge, earned by being in combat. THE Vietnam badge to have

cluster fuck --  see FUBAR

C-rats --  C rations, food usually canned, eaten in field. Peaches!

crispy critter --  burn victim

DEROS --  Date of Expected Return from Overseas Service; most army soldiers served for one year in Vietnam and knew the date they would be leaving.

deuce & 1/2 -- 2.5 ton truck. Fun to say, right?

di di --  go (from Vietnamese)

di di mau --  go quickly, get out of here

dinky dau --  crazy

ditty bopping --  walking without paying attention

expectants --  those expected to die, triage term

fragging --  killing an officer

free fire zone --  presumably a place where civilians have been removed or have left, so that only enemy soldiers remain Kill at will.

friendly fire --  killing your own troops, by accident

FUBAR--  fucked up beyond all recognition

gook -- an Asian (Korean)

grunt --  soldier

heads & juicers --  grass vs alochol

hump --  carry on march, like the over 70 lbs of equipment commonly issued

in country --  in Vietnam

Indian country --  controlled by the other side

jet jockey --  fighter pilot

jody --  person at home who's taken your girlfriend

John Wayne --  doing something macho & stupid, also a can opener

Kit Carson scout --  former enemy, now guide

klick --  kilometer

LBJ --  Long Binh jail, military jail

lifer --  career military, usually derogatory

little people --  ARVN, South Vietnam army soldiers. AKA Marvin the Arvn

LZ --  landing zone

MACV --  military assistance command, Vietnam (I just like saying it. Mack-V)

MASH --  mobile army surgical unit, used in Korea

NCO --  non commissioned officer, eg sergeant. Contrast with lieutenants, often arriving in country directly from military training,.

number one, number ten --  best, worse

number ten thousand -- really really bad!

OD --  olive drab

over the fence --  crossing into Cambodia, Laos

prick 25 --  PRC 25 radio

REMF --  rear echelon motherfucker

Remington Ranger --  like REMF, behind the lines at a typewriter

ROK --  Republic of Korea. Yep, we had Korean, Australian, and other allies in country

saddle up --  get ready to march

shake & bake -- soldier in country after finishing NCO training, ie non-commissioned officer

shit hook --  Chinook helicopter (two blades)

short, short timer -- soldier nearing end of tour; see DEROS

sit-rep --  situation report, useable in all sorts of life situations

slant --  Vietnamese person; see gook, dink

slick -- Huey (UH-1) helicopter used in combat

snake -- Cobra attack helicopter

strac --  prepared, by the book (Strategic Air Command)

t & t --  through and through wound

taking point --  in platoon, the person going first in line, danger of mines]

tee-tee --  very small

track --  a vehicle on tracks, not wheels

tunnel rats --  those unfortunate smaller soldiers sent into tunnels built by VC

VC --  Viet Cong, enemy in the south (North Vietnam Army --  NVA)

Zippo raids --  lighting the thatch roofs in a village, burning it down, crispy critters

Units --
101 --  Hundred and worst, screaming eagles, puking pigeons
82nd Airborne --  AA --  Almost airborne alcoholics anonymous
1st Infantry --  Big Red One, watch where you put the accent
9th infantry --  psychedelic cookies

feel free to contribute more....


  1. I sometimes listen to military cadences while running, which are also known as "jody calls".

  2. yes! I didn't include that but you are right. I think I'd listen to John Philip Souza....

  3. I own and use my boonie hat...and have a poncho liner that is warmer than any blanket I've ever owned.