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Centaur Glossary of Vietnam Terms

Please submit other terms that may need an explanation or answer. Updated 23 Jan 2017 bap

105 Howitzer - a towable or airliftable, short cannon used to fire shells at medium velocity and with relatively high trajectories. Very effective firing close range Beehive round. Also see "Howitzer"
160th SOAR(A): - Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), also known as Night Stalkers, is a special operations force of the United States Army that provides helicopter aviation support for general purpose forces and special operations forces (not of the Vietnam Era). Established 16 Oct 1981
201 file - Army personal file
2.75 FFAR - is a helicopter tube launched rocket measuring 2.75 inches in diameter that has a warhead and folding fins that deploy at its rear to provide spin stability after launch. Early rockets had a 10 pound high explosive (HE) warhead. In 1967 the Centaurs started receiving 17 pound HE warheads. We also had White Phosphorus ("Willy Pete") and Flechettes ("Nails").
51 cal - a heavy machine gun used by the enemy as an anti aircraft weapon
540 Rotor System - Vastly improved rotor system for the UH-1C model Huey.(Conversion from B to C model)
A-1E Skyraider (Sandy) - a fixed wing prop driven close air support airplane. The older AD-5 Skyraider was modified for the Vietnam war and redesigned the A-1E. "Sandy" was derived from their USAF call sign. Four 20mm cannons and various bombs, mines, grenades, flares and gun pods. An amazing aircraft.
AAR - After Action Report
AC - Aircraft Commander
ACAV - Armored Cavalry Assault Vehicle
Agent Orange - A herbicide dropped on the forests and bush in Vietnam to defoliate (strip the leaves from plants and trees) an area. Many Vietnam veterans who had been exposed to Agent Orange during the war have shown an increased risk of cancer. (see Agent Orange Discussion)
AGL - Above Ground Level (Aircraft Altitude)
Air Cav - Air Cavalry; helicopter borne infantry; gunship assault team
AK-47 - Semi-automatic and automatic assault rifle developed by the Soviet Union and used by the NVA and VC
AK fire - The enemy is shooting at you with AK-47 weapons
AO - Area of Operations
AO Earp- An area SouthSouthEast of Cu Chi near the Hoc Mon Bridge, designated specifically for test firing of aircraft weapons. Approximately XT6806
ao-dai - traditional dress of Vietnamese women. A brightly colored silk top worn over loose fitting silk trouser. Pronounced 'ao yai'
APC - armored personnel carrier - M113 a tracked vehicle
ARC-51 - Aircraft UHF radio transceiver, tube type, heavy
ARC-54 - Aircraft FM radio transceiver, tube type, heavy
ARC-102 - Aircraft HF Side Band radio. AM, USB, LSB, and CW on 28,000 channels. In Battalion level C&C aircraft. Antenna zig zaged down the UH-1 tail boom. Centaurs did not have one.

ARC-115 - Aircraft VHF AM radio 116-150 mhz range; solid state.
Arc Light - A term for the close air support operations provided by Strategic Air Command B-52 Stratofortresses based in Guam during the Vietnam War. The name comes from the codename for the mission, Operation Arc Light. Arc Lights were flown from June 1965 to August 1973. Their strike pattern would saturate an area of 1,100 by 2,200 yards, and flatten the jungle. The B-52 could carry a full load of 51 750 lb bombs or 500 lb bombs, with 27 carried internally and 24 externally.
Arm Pit - Rearming area at Cu Chi Base Camp
ARVN - Army Republic of Vietnam
Ash and Trash Missons - any type of non-combat aviation mission, like delivering mail and parts to the ground Cav units or doing road damage assessment along route 1 from Saigon to Tay Ninh. Also called “milk runs”.
AWOL - absent without leave
Azimuth - a bearing from north
B-40 - a variant of the RPG-2, the first rocket-propelled grenade launcher designed in the Soviet Union
B-52 - The Boeing B52D Stratofortress is a long-range, subsonic, jet-powered strategic bomber. Max load of 500 lb. bombs could be 24 on external wing mounts (12 per side) and 84 in the bomb bay. 8 man crew. Flew at 30,000 feet. A B52 strike was called an "Arc Light".
B-53 - "B-53" was the cover name for the training program which was derived from Detachment B-53, 5th Special Forces Group.
Bangalore Torpedo - Long connectable tubes of explosives. The primary use of the torpedo is clearing paths through wire obstacles and heavy undergrowth. It will clear a 3- to 4-metre wide path through wire obstacles
BAR - Browning Automatic Rifle - M1918 - A light machine gun(mostly a WWII/Korea weapon) that used the .30-06 Springfield cartridge. The U.S. Army began phasing out the BAR in the late 1950s and was without a portable light machine gun until the introduction of the M60 machine gun in 1957.
Ba Mu`o` Ba - or "Ba Moui Ba" - Biere "33", (Vietnamese beer) which came in a bottle about the size of a US 12 oz., and tasted OK, most of the time. The other local beer was called "Tiger Beer", but was actually named Biere Larue, normally in a one liter bottle. Inconsistent in quality. Some bitter or worse. But occasionally you got a great tasting one.
BDA - Bomb Damage Assessment. Usually after a B-52 strike armed scout helicopters would be called in to see how much damage was done. Pilots sometimes had to wear gas masks while doing this. See Dunbar Slides #BD-205 and #BD-187
Beans and dicks - C ration of hot dogs and beans
Beehive - (or Grapeshot) 105mm Artillery round: each round contained 8,000 one-half gram "flechettes" (pointed steel projectiles, with vaned tails for stable flight) packed tightly together; Called the 105 mm M546 APERS-T (Anti-PERSonnel-Tracer) round. It is said that the name beehive was given to the munition type due to the noise of the thousands of flechettes moving through the air resembling that of a swarm of angry bees. Attack helicopters had a similar warhead that could be used on their 2.75 inch rockets. They contained 2200 flechettes. Slang term was "Nails". This was a deadly munition that had to be used carefully and not close to friendly troops.
Berm - perimeter line of a fortification; usually raised above surrounding area; in the case of rice paddies it is called a Dike.
Bingo (Bingo Fuel) - a multiservice tactical brevity code for a low fuel state.
Blues - UH-1 Slicks that hauled the Aerorifle Platoon or an element of the platoon. Cobras = Red, LOH's = White, Cobra plus LOH = Pink, UH-1H's (carrying troops) = Blue. These terms may have came into fashion sometime after the arrival of the Cobra.
Boo-coo - bastardized French from beaucoup, meaning “much or many”
Boom boom - as in GI want boom boom (sex)
Break Squelch - to press the transmit button on the radio handset without speaking: twice for all-clear, once for enemy near
Broomstick Flying - emergency flying an LOH (OH-6) Scout Helicopter from the left seat (copilot/gunner) with an broomstick handle instead of a cyclic stick. see Broomstick Flying War Story
C-123 - (Provider) An Air Force twin engine cargo and military transport aircraft, smaller than the C-130, powered by both conventional propellers and by turbojet engines mounted under the wings. We saw it mostly as the primary aircraft for spraying Agent Orange and delivering supplies to the short dirt runways of special forces camps (see story and photo).
C-130 - (Hercules) An Air Force four engine airplane capable of hauling large bulky equipment, including artillery pieces and tanks, over long distances; able to land in tight spaces, slow to 125 knots for paratroop drops, and fly, if need be, with one engine. It is a tough, versatile heavylifter with plenty of “trunk” space.
C-4 - A plastic explosive called "Composition 4". C-4 has a texture similar to modeling clay and can be moulded into any desired shape. C-4 is stable and only explodes by the combination of extreme heat and shock wave from a detonator.
C & C - command and control
C & C Aircraft - Usually a UH-1D slick with a special set of radios for the commander. Some commanders used other helicopters like the OH-23G.
Call Sign - A word and number assigned to the position of those who needed to communicate on the radio. If you received a call from "Centaur Six", you would be talking to the current D or F Troop Commander. "Centaur Three" would be the man serving as Operations Officer. see also Centaur Call Sign Discussion
CAR-15 - The Colt Automatic Rifle-15 Military Weapons System or CAR-15 was a family of the AR-15 and M16 rifle–based firearms marketed by Colt in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
CG - Commanding General; usually refering to the 25th Inf Div Commander.
Chalk - is the number of a helicopters position in a formation flight. Chalk would be the third helicopter. This term was needed to help the grunts on the ground, especially at night, know which aircraft they are to load into. Tail numbers were not often visible.
Charlie - Viet Cong; also gook, Victor Charlie, Sir Charles
Chicken Plate - Protective body armor for aircrews. It had a front pocket and stretchable webbing sides. It had an overlapping waistband with velcro to strap it on. The design was improved in 1968. The ceramic armor, though not as good as what the other branches of the service had, successfully protected against 30 caliber fire at 100 yards range. See Woody Gardner's video.
Chinook - CH-47 twin rotor cargo helicopter (slang "Shit Hook")
Chopper - it meant helicopter in the old days. Nowdays it means motorcycle.
Chu Hoi - an initiative by the South Vietnamese to encourage defection by the Viet Cong and their supporters to the side of the Government
Chup Plantation - Rubber Plantation in Cambodia (NW of Tay Ninh). ARVN operation there in 1972.
Kelley's Book: Immed NW Phum Suong and 85 km WSW Snuol. 11°57’00’’N-105°39’00’’E, NC48-03 JOG. Cambodia.
Church Key - Old style beer can opener
CIB - Combat Infantryman's Badge. Men who personally fought in active ground combat while assigned as members of either an Infantry, Ranger, or Special Forces unit any time after 6 December 1941. This is the Infantryman's badge of honor.
CKC - first model of the Russian SKS assault rifle
Claymores - antipersonnel mine ( from Gaelic) “claidheamh Mor”.
CO - Commanding Officer
Composition B - The explosive used in the warheads of our 2.75 inch Rockets. It is made from castable mixtures of RDX and TNT. see 2.75 inch FFAR.
Conex - A conex is a very structurally strong steel box about seven feet high, six feet wide, five feet deep with two steel security doors. Normally used for shipping things overseas; however we used them for storing weapons and other equipment on the flight line.
CONUS - CONUS - Continental United States, but generally used by Centaurs to mean "Home".
Cordite - a smokeless explosive made from nitrocellulose, nitroglycerine, and petroleum jelly, used in ammunition.
Corral - The flightline area in Cu Chi where the Centaur aircraft were parked in revetments.
CTZ - Combat Tactical Zones. The French divided Vietnam into four tactical zones. Americans assigned these zones to I, II, III, and IV Corps (later referred to as Military Regions or MR).
CS Gas - CS is a stronger version of Tear Gas dispensed like smoke from a smoke grenade. Causes a burning irritation of the eyes, nose, mouth and throat. Rated as non-lethal (you might think otherwise when you experience it). Used to drive the enemy out of tunnels and other hiding places.
DD 214 - Department of Defense Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty.
DEROS - Date Estimated Return from Over Seas.
Detcord - explosive that looks like a rope, used to daisy chain claymores
DFC - the Distinguished Flying Cross
Diddy bopping - walking carelessly
Dike - a dirt berm surrounding a rice paddy; rice paddy dike.
Dinky Dau - to be crazy
DMZ - Demilitarized Zone
Donut Dolly - volunteer women from the American Red Cross
DRV - Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North)
Duster - M42 40 mm Self-Propelled Anti-Aircraft Gun. Although initially designed for an anti-aircraft role, it proved highly successful when used in the Vietnam War against unarmored ground forces. see Rick Arthur TextPhoto 2.
Dustoff - a medical evacuation mission from the bush by a Helicopter; a designated Helicopter that performs medical evacuation.
ECU - the Environmental Control unit was an air conditioner installed in the AH-G Cobras in 1970 at the same time as the tail rotors were retrofitted from the left side to the right side of the aircraft.
Elephant Ear - or more specifically "Little Elephant Ear". An area along the Cambodian border due West of Katum. Mentioned in Mike Kelley's book as XT0588.
Evaced - Medically evacuated (sent back) to the field hospital or Base Camp
F/4 - F Troop, 4th Cavalry Regiment
F-4 - The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom; a tandem two-seat, twin-engine, all-weather, long-range supersonic jet interceptor aircraft/fighter-bomber. It has a top speed of over Mach 2.2; can carry more than 18,000 pounds (8,400 kg) of weapons on nine external hardpoints, including air-to-air missiles, air-to-ground missiles, and various bombs.
FAC - Forward Air Controller; also see FAC Coordination article
Fast Mover - Jet Fighter or Attack Aircraft, usually an F-4 Phantom
FAO - Forward Air Observer
FFZ - Free Fire Zone. Anything in this area can be engaged.
Flameout - An engine failure; The run-down of a jet engine caused by the extinction of the flame in the combustion chamber. see story
Flare - illumination projectile; hand-fired or shot from artillery, mortars, or air dropped by helicopters
Flechette - a pointed steel projectile, with a vaned tail for stable flight. It is a French term meaning "little arrow" or "dart". A ballistic artillery shell (105 mm Artillery Beehive round) or smaller rocket (2.75 in FFAR) warhead packed with flechettes was fired and set off by a mechanical time fuse, scattering flechettes in an expanding cone. A very effective close range anti-personnel munition. Centaur pilots called them "Nails". - See a video.
FNG - Fuckin' New Guy see story
FO - Artillery Forward Observer. Attached to the Centaurs from an Artillery Unit.
Foo Gas - a mixture of explosives and napalm, usually set in a fifty-gallon drum. A sling load of these drums would be dropped from a helicopter on an enemy position and exploded using machine gun or rocket fire.
Frags - a fragmentation grenade
Freedom Bird - YOUR airplane back home
Friendlies - other US or allied troops on the battlefield
Friendly Fire - An accidental attack, whether by shooting or by dropping bombs, upon one's own troops, such as U.S soldiers shooting at other U.S. soldiers.
FUBAR - Fouled Up Beyond All Recognition
Gas Mask - Aircraft Gas Mask - The M24 gas mask entered service in 1962 and was used up until the mid 1990s by helicopter crews. It is a copy of the M14 series tank crew mask. The accessories include a clear and and a black outsert (like an insert but on the outside) to protect eye lenses, an air pathway that reduced fogging, anti fogging cloth and a chemical protective hood ABC-M7. see Aviation Gas Mask discussion. Gas mask for ground troops was the M17.
Go Dau Ha - An abandoned airfield used by the Centaurs as a standyby location for Gunships covering the MSR Convoys and as a POL point for their OH-23G Light Scout helicopters (XT415242). Named after the nearby small village.
Gook - Negative slang term for Viet Cong.
Grease Gun - was a .45 cal American submachine gun adopted for U.S. Army service in 1942 and designated the "M3". Cheaper to produce, lighter and more accurate than the Thompson. Nicknamed for its similarity to a mechanics grease gun.
Grunt - a foot soldier; infantryman
Gunship - heavily armed helicopter, a UH 1B or C Huey; later in war an AH-1G Cobra.
Gun Target Line - or GT-LINE: The direct line on a map from the Artillery firing battery to the target. Aircraft had to be careful to stay out of this line to avoid being hit by an artillery round.
GVN - Government of Vietnam (South)
H & I - Harassment and Interdiction; preplanned Artillery fire to mess with the enemy
Heavy Scout - a UH-1C gunship with flex-guns and 2.75 inch rockets. Less ordinance than the Hog.
HOG - a UH-1C gunship with full artillery firepower of rockets and grenades
HH-43 (Huskie) - Call Sign "Pedro", Kaman HH-43 "Huskie," a small helicopter that was used for airborne fire fighting and air base crash rescue. In May 1964 they deployed to Vietnam and Thailand, where they took on the additional role of combat rescue. (see related story)
HH-53 (Super Jolly Green Giant) - the first helicopter specifically designed for combat search and rescue [CSAR] operations. Equipped with armor plating, self-sealing fuel tanks, three 7.62 miniguns and an external rescue hoist with 250 feet of cable. It could transport 38 combat-equipped troops on side facing troop seats, or 22 litter patients and four medical attendants or 18,500 pounds of freight. The external hook had a 20,000-pound capacity.
Ho Chi Min Trail - Supply paths from North Vietnam to South Vietnam that traveled through Cambodia and Laos to supply the communist forces fighting in South Vietnam.
Honor Thief - A term that we use to describe those that falsify records or otherwise claim to have received military medals during the war. This includes those that claim to have served in Vietnam or in a particular unit in Vietnam, when that is not true. see Stolen Valor
Hooch - also spelled hootch - GI sleeping quarters at base camp
Honey dippers - Those chosen to burn excrement
Hot LZ - Landing zone under enemy fire
Howitzer - short cannon used to fire shells at medium velocity and with relatively high trajectories; usually a 105 mm towed howitzer called a "Baby Howitzer" because of it's relatively small size and portability.
HUEY - The UH-1 "Iroquois" helicopter; icon of the Vietnam war
Hunter-Killer Team - or "Pink team" of OH-6A scout (LOH or Loach) and AH-1G (Cobra) attack helicopters. (Shoulder patch).
Incoming - enemy artillery/mortar attacks in Vietnam
Iron Triangle - VC dominated area near Cu Chi See Map
Jesus nut - large nut which holds the main rotor blade system on the rotor shaft
Jet Fuel or JP4 - This was the fuel used in our aircraft (except for the OH-23G which was aviation gas). JP-4 was a 50-50 kerosene-gasoline blend that had a low flash point (for fire safety), evaporated easily and floated on water. (JP = "Jet Propulsion"). It was used for other things like burning the shit from our latrines.
K-bar - combat knife
KIA - Killed In Action
KBH - Killed By Helicopter
Kit Carson - Kit Carson Scout Program recruited Viet Cong defectors to work with small unit US forces.
Klick - kilometer, 1,000 meters; It is less than a mile (.62 miles)
Laager - Tanks or APCs circled in a defensive position, usually at night.
LAW or M72 LAW - Light Anti-tank Weapon - is a portable one-shot 66 mm unguided anti-tank weapon. It may have been built to fight armored vehicles but we mostly used it for fortified positions.
LOH or "Loach" - OH-6A Observation Helicopter; egg shaped and very crash worthy
LP - Listening Post: usually a three to four man position set up at night outside the perimeter away from the main body of troopers, to act as an early warning system against attack.
LRRP - Long Range Recon Patrol. Elite teams of 5-7 men deployed into the deep jungle to gather information about enemy without being caught. See Answers page

In jargon “lrrps” also referred to the freeze dried rations that LRRP patrols were issued. They were light-weight and when mixed with hot water were very tasty. .
LST - naval vessel supporting amphibious operations by carrying vehicles, cargo, and landing troops directly onto an unimproved shore.
LT - U.S. Army Lieutenant. Normally a First Lieutenant Platoon Leader of the Aerorifles or a Helicopter Aircraft Commander.
LZ - Landing Zone. A designated area on the ground where troops are inserted/extracted by helicopeter
M113 - Armored Personnel Carrier APC Tracked Vehicle
M16 - the standard U.S. military rifle (5.56mm) used in Vietnam from 1966 on. It replaced the M-14.
M2 system - an electronically controlled, hydraulic-powered, air-cooled, gas-operated, belt-fed M60C machine gun. It was a variant of the standard M60 machine gun designed for aircraft mounting. The M2 system provided two M60 machine guns, one mounted on each skid of the OH-23G "Raven" Observation Helicopter and other small aircraft. The mounts provided flexible elevation, with 650 rounds per gun stored externally. They were fired electronically from the cockpit by the pilot. see war story "The Second Year"
M24 - Aircraft Gas Mask - The M24 gas mask entered service in 1962 and was used up until the mid 1990s by helicopter crews. It is a copy of the M14 series tank crew mask. The accessories include a clear and and a black outsert (like an insert but on the outside) to protect eye lenses, an air pathway that reduced fogging, anti fogging cloth and a chemical protective hood ABC-M7. see Aviation Gas Mask discussion
M551 Sheridan - a light tank armed with a 152mm gun/launcher. Its light weight allowed it to traverse mud better than most vehicles but suffered from a low rate of fire in combat. 
M60 - the standard lightweight machine gun used by U.S. forces in Vietnam
M79 - Grenade Launcher - is a single-shot, shoulder-fired, break-action grenade launcher that fires a 40x46mm grenade which uses what the US Army calls the High-Low Propulsion System to keep recoil forces low, It can fire a wide variety of 40 mm rounds, including explosive, anti-personnel, smoke, buckshot, flechette, and illumination.
Mama-san - pidgean word used by GIs for older Vietnamese women. Also papa-san for older men.
McGuire Rig - Device used to extract soldiers from the jungles of Vietnam. It would be suspended from a helicopter and used to extract soldiers from areas without a suitable pick-up zone. It was simple, inexpensive, and effective. It did not require the soldier to carry any special equipment. Designed by Sergeant Major Charles McGuire, member of Project DELTA, a Special Forces reconnaissance project. Stabo rig came later.
MIA - Missing In Action. A soldier who is missing and whose death cannot be confirmed.
MIKE Force - Nickname for the Mobile Strike Force Command, Special Forces unit in Vietnam. They served with indigenous soldiers selected and trained through the largely minority Civilian Irregular Defense Group and were led by American Special Forces and Australian Army Training Team Personnel.
MOS - Military Occupational Speciality. Try this site for Nam MOS's and this site for modern MOS's
MP - Military Police
MPC - Military payment certificates; form of currency used to pay U.S. military
MR - Military Region. Vietnam was divided into four areas representing I Corps, II Corps, III Corps and IV Corps (North to South). Later these regions were referred to as Military Regions (MR1, MR2, MR3 amd MR4)
MSR - Main Supply Route (Highway 1) from Saigon to Tay Ninh
Mule - a 4-wheel drive, gasoline-powered truck/tractor type vehicle that can carry up to a 1/2 ton off-road. Also called "Mule," "Military Mule," or "Mechanical Mule".
Mogas - Automotive gasoline suitable for use in piston-engined gasoline powered aircraft. Also called "Avgas".
Napalm - thickened gasoline, resembles Jello in bombs. In slang "maple syrup in a zippo-track"
Nam - Vietnam
Nap of the earth (NOE) - Flying at treetop level (or below) to avoid enemy detection and attack in a high-threat environment. This left you open for small arms fire and tested your navigation skills.
Nails (or Flechettes) - Slang for a 2.75 inch Folding Fin Rocket anti-personnel warhead fired from an Attack Helicopter. This warhead contained approximately 2,200 twenty grain flechettes. The flechettes are released by a base-mounted, fuze-ignited (integral fuze) expulsion charge at rocket motor burnout. Fuzed weight of the flechette was 9.3 pounds. Since the rockets themselves were not known for their accuracy, this dangerous warhead could not be used near friendly troops. The Artillery units had a similar round called a Beehive. - See a video
Night Hawk - a UH-1H with a Xenon light and a (NOD) Night Observation Device (AN/TVS-4) (like a big spotter scope) and different combinations of weapons; usually a minigun door gun. (see stories 1969 article, 1969 video, Minigun, twin 60's, Aug 1971)
Number One GI - you the best.
Number Ten GI - you the worst.
NVA - North Vietnamese Army; NVA troops vs Viet Cong troops
OCS - Officer Candidate School - where select Enlisted Soldiers can become Commissioned Officers
OH-23G - light recon "Observation" helicopter built by Hiller; gas engine; no hydraulics
OH-6 - light recon "Observation" helicopter built to replace the OH-23; nickname "Loach"
Oriental River - the Song Vam Co Dong river that runs North and South passing Go Da Hau was nicknamed "Oriental" by many of the Centaurs in the early years.
OV-10 Bronco - Air Force (and Marine Corps) fixed wing aircraft used by forward air controllers in support of ground troops. It replaced the L19 (O-1) Birddog.
One Six - Platoon Leader
P-38 - small collapsible can opener
Pacification Program - The program was created on 9 May 1967, and included military and civilian components of both governments. It was called CORDS (Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support). The mission was to counter the effects of the insurgency. To Centaurs it meant don't shoot back.
PD-680 - is a very strong Mineral Spirit degreasing solvent used by the Military for cleaning weapons and equipment. Highly flamable, believed to be a cause of cancer. Replaced in Dec 1999
People Sniffer - a machine created by the Army's Chemical Corps that could detect human smell like urine and sweat. It could be mounted in a helicopter and used to sweep an area marking "hot spots" or left hidden on the ground by a LRRP team to sense movement of troops. see article
PIC - Pilot In Command of the aircraft.
Pink Team - or Hunter-Killer Team - of OH-6A scout (LOH or Loach) and AH-1G (Cobra) attack helicopters
Pipe Smoke - Call Sign for the aircraft recovery teams of the 520th Battalion. The "Pipesmoke" teams were unique in that both the rigging and extracting elements were under unified operational control. They recovered many Centaur aircraft.
Piss tube - verticle tube buried 2 to 3 feet into ground for urination
Point - Lead man in a patrol.
POL - Petroleum, Oil and Lubricants - This is where we refueled our aircraft.
POL Point - A place set aside for refueling our helicopters.
POW - Prisoner Of War." A soldier that has been taken captive by the enemy.
PRC-25 - The AN/PRC25 is a short range manpack, portable VHF FM combat-net radio transceiver. AN/PRC means "Army/Navy, Portable, Radio, Communication."
Project Delta - one of just three Special Reconnaissance (SR) units formed by the U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV) during the Vietnam War to collect operational intelligence in remote areas of South Vietnam. Established at Nha Trang in 1964
PTSD - Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. A psychological disorder caused by experiencing a trauma. Many Vietnam veterans suffered from PTSD upon their return from their tour of duty.
Pucker Factor - assessment of the fear factor, as in the difficulty/risk in an upcoming mission
Punji stake/Punji Pit - sharpened bamboo stick (booby trap), often smeared with excrement to cause infection if stepped on, and usually hidden in a camouflaged pit.
PZ - Pickup Zone. Designated area where troops are to be picked up by their helicopters
R & R - Rest and Relaxation
RIF - Reduction In Force. The Army had to greatly reduce its size after Vietnam. This resizing was called "Reduction In Force" or RIF. A lot of good people were let go. Many came back in the service at a lower rank. Here is one story.
Repo Depo - Replacement Depot is a military unit where men comming in from the States are processed to combat units in the field.
Revetment - a wall type of fortification usually made of sand bags or steel plating that gave some protection for our helicopters while they were parked on the flight line. They could be "L" shaped or "Parallel".
Rome Plow - were large, armored, specially modified, bulldozers used by the Army to clear jungle areas. Name comes from where they were built in Rome, GA
RLO - Real Live Officer
RTO - Radio Telephone Operator was the enlisted soldier that carried the communications radio (PRC-25 in Nam) for the small unit commander. The large antenna and the fact that he was the units link to support and coordination made him a prime target for the Viet Cong and NVA.Here is one story
Rucksack - also ruck; packs carried by grunts
RF/PF - Ruff-Puff - Rural Forces/Popular Forces. Indigenous friendly forces located within the villages. These units were more civilian than military. They were equipped with surplus U.S. weaponry from WW-II and Korean conflict era(s). BAR's, M-1 Carbines and M-1 Garands. No standardized uniform to wear.
RPG-7 - (later replaced by the RPG-2) is a Russian portable, unguided, shoulder-launched, anti-tank (or in our case anti-helicopter) rocket propelled grenade launcher. "RPG" is an acronym for three Russian words not for Rocket Propelled Grenade. That is something our soldiers named it. It can be confusing in that an RPG-40 anti-tank weapon is not "Rocket" propelled, but hand thrown.

RPG-40 - Russian hand held and hand thrown anti-tank grenade. (created in 1940)
Rules of Engagement - specific regulations for conduct of air & ground battles; says when you can shoot.
RVN - Republic of Vietnam; also meaning South Vietnam
S2 - Squadron (or Battalion) level shop that deals with military intelligence gathering, security clearance records and classified information control.
SA-7 Strella - Russian Surface to Air Missile launcher. The Strela-2 system was given to North Vietnam forces, where along with the more advanced Strela-2M the Russians say it got 204 hits out of 589 firings against US aircraft between 1972 and 1975. A total of approximately 40–50 kills are attributed to Strela-2/2M hits between 1970 and the fall of Saigon, almost all against helicopters and propeller-driven aircraft. Nasty weapon but didn't do well against Jets.
Sampan - a relatively flat bottom Vietnamese boat; primitively built and in various sizes. A peasant boat.
Sappers - Highly trained units of the NVA/VC with the mission to penetrate American defensive perimeters at night and blow things up.
SAR - Air Force Search And Rescue Team in Vietnam. Short-ranged HH-43 Huskie helicopters (call sign Pedro); later replaced by specially equipped HH-3 and HH-53 Jolly Green Giant helicopters: escorted by A-1 Skyraiders (call sign Sandy). Later in the war, this escort role was taken over by A-7D Corsair II jets.
Satchel Charge - pack used by the enemy containing explosives that is dropped or thrown and is generally more powerful than a grenade
SCAS - Stability Control Augmentation System. It is a 3 axis "Gyro" system that cancels undesired motion of the helicopter during flight. The electrical signals from the SCAS actuate electronic solenoids that manipulate the hydraulic system. Tough to fly without it.
Shamming - goofing off
Short timer - 30 days and counting to end of tour
Sitrep - Situation Report; made hourly to higher ups, or on demand
SKS - a Soviet semi-automatic self loading carbine; 7.62x39mm round. Replaced in the early 1950's with the AK-47.
Slick - UH-1D or H model "Huey" helicopter used for transporting troops and supplies
SNAFU - Situation Normal All Fucked Up
Snake - nickname for the AH-1G Huey Cobra.
SOG - Studies and Observations Group (MACV-SOG). Its existence once denied by the US Government, it wasn't until long after the war that the SOG story could even be told.
Spider hole - camouflaged VC foxhole
Spooky - Call Sign of the Douglas AC-47 USAF Fixed wing gunship (also nicknamed "Puff, the Magic Dragon"). It was the first in a series of gunships developed by the United States Air Force during the Vietnam War (the military version of the DC-3). Equipped with miniguns capable of firing 6,000 rounds a minute.
Spring Offensive - The massive attack by North Vietnam's army into South Vietnam, begun on March 30, 1972 and lasting until October 22, 1972.
Squadron - Cavalry unit, similar in size to a battalion
Stabo Rig - "STAbilized BOdy" was an extraction harness/rig, used from a helicopter to extract men from the jungle. It was far more secure, safe and comfortable than the McGuire rig, and allowed the unrestricted use of the operator's hands during 'hot' extractions from a combat landing or pickup zone.
Stable Boy - the Centaur UH-1D helicopter used as a Maintenance and recovery ship
Task Force 160 - see 160th SOAR(A)
TC -Track Commander (of an Armored Personnel Carrier)
TDY -Temporary Duty
TET - January holiday. Vietnamese Lunar new year.
TET Offensive - one of the largest military campaigns of the Vietnam War, launched on January 30, 1968 by the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army
The Wall- The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is a 2-acre (8,000 m²) national memorial in Washington, DC. It honors U.S. service members of the U.S. armed forces who fought in the Vietnam War, service members who died in service in Vietnam/South East Asia, and those service members who were unaccounted for (Missing In Action) during the War. See also
Thompson - a .45 cal American submachine gun, invented by John T. Thompson in 1918, that became infamous during the Prohibition era.
TLN - Tropic Lightning News - Official Newspaper of the 25th Infantry Division (see Links to find articles)
TOC - Tactical Operations Center. A radio control center in the Troop area ran by the Operations Officer and crew. Call sign Centaur 65
TOE - (or TO&E) A U.S. Department of Defense document which prescribes the organization, staffing, and equippage of units. It also provides information on the mission and capabilities of a unit.
Together We Served - Is a commercial website for members of all the military services.
Top - Top sergeant; unit First Sergeant
Tracers - Red and Green - Projectiles or ammo rounds that are built with a small pyrotechnic charge in their base. Viet Cong and NVA weapons used a tracer round that appeared green in color in low light or at night. Our weapons used red ones. Generally every fifth round in a belt of ammo was a tracer.
Tractor Tail Rotor - This was a modification of the AH-1G Cobra that moved the tail rotor from the left side (pusher) to the right side (pull or Tractor effect) and provided an increase in the usable in-ground-effect (IGE) operating envelope and improved the directional control characteristics while maneuvering.
Trail watcher - soldier left to watch a trail and sound the alarm If the enemy approaches
Troop - Cavalry unit, same size as an Infantry company
Tunnel rat - Small in stature American soldier sent into VC tunnels.
Turtles - your replacement taking his good old time arriving in country
Viet Cong or "VC" - The communist guerilla forces in South Vietnam..
Viet Minh - Shortened term for the Viet Nam Doc Lap Dong Minh Hoi (League for the Independence of Vietnam), the organization established by Ho Chi Minh in 1941 to gain independence for Vietnam from France.
Vietnamization - The process of withdrawing U.S. troops from Vietnam and turning over all fighting to the South Vietnamese. This was part of President Richard Nixon's plan to end U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.
White mice - derogatory term for South Vietnamese police. The nickname came from their uniform of white helmet and gloves.
WIA - Wounded in action. A battlefield casuality
WP or "Willie Pete" or White Phosphorous - is a chemical munition that burns with intense heat and produces billowing white smoke. White Phosphorus or "WP" or "Willy Pete" warheads on our 2.75 inch aerial rockets worked great for marking a target. Gunships often carried a few rounds for initial marking or verification of a target or exploding foo gas drums. Used in both aerial rockets and hand grenades
VR - Visual Reconnaissance generally by a Light Scout Helicopter team; Look, Identify, Report.
Xenon Light - a 50 million candlepower searchlight (AN/VSS-3) from the M551 Sheridan light tank, mounted in the cabin door of a UH-1D or H model, and operated by a crew member. Had both white light and infrared modes. Later versions worked in conjunction with a (NOD) Night Observation Device (AN/TVS-4), like a big spotter scope. The missions they flew with this setup were called Night Hawk.
Xin loi - (sin loy) a polite Vietnamese phrase literally meaning "excuse me" or " pardon me", but used sardonically by GIs to mean "sorry about that"
Zulu - casualty report.