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Author Topic: Vietnam Slang  (Read 4153 times)

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« on: 1 April 2012, 05:33:48 »

The American soldier has always developed his own vocabulary to describe the sights and sounds of war, and the soldiers of today are maintaining that tradition.  The jargon of the Vietnam GI is often humorous, sometimes confusing.

   From the moment a replacement enters Vietnam he is subjected to the lingo of war.  The new man is a "turtle" for the man he replaces because he seems to be so slow in arriving.

   If he did not know before coming across the "big pond" (Pacific Ocean), he soon learns that MACV stands for Military Assistance Command, Vietnam; USARV means United States Army, Vietnam; and "short-timer" is a soldier going home soon.

   A few of the terms for his fighting comrades, "jet jockey" and "Saigon warrior", are self evident. Many are not.

   It is possible to spend an entire tour of duty in Vietnam without learning all the terms for an infantryman.  He is a "grunt" or a "stump jumper".  He is called a "gravel crusher" or, most often, a "leg."

   After a few months in the "boondocks" the GI respects the courage of his tenacious foe and calls him "Mister Charles" or "Sir Charles."
   Enemy infested jungles become the "VC National Forests."

   A wounded soldier is "zapped" by Charlie and enemy soldiers are "greased," "massaged," or "blown away," by "friendlies" (Allied soldiers).

   Abbreviations are used extensively in this war and it is possible to carry on a conversation that would leave a linguist dizzy.

   The military units of Vietnam are divided into several categories.  The "good-guys" are:
   ARVN - Army of the Republic of Vietnam. This group is the Vietnamese regular army.
   CIDG - Civilian Irregular Defense Group.  A Vietnamese force that maintains territorial border surveillance.
   PF - Popular Forces.  This force, recruited at local levels and kept in their home villages, is concerned with civil defense.
   RF - Regional Forces.  These troops maintain public order and security in rural areas.
The "bad guys" are:
   NVA - North Vietnamese Army.  Trained and well equipped soldiers, the NVA have taken over much of the fighting.
   NLF - The National Liberation Front is the political organization of the Communist forces.
   VC - Viet Cong.  This term, dating back to the French Indochina War, refers to the local guerrillas.
Vietnam Slang
   From the Vietnamese language the GI's have adopted "chop-chop" for food, the French word "beaucoup" for many, and "xin loi" for the phrase "sorry 'bout that."
   A snake is called "Mr. No-shoulders" and if a rumor going around Da Nang can be believed the term "Sabre Jet" is fitting for the Vietnam mosquito.
Army and Air Force pilots have their own lingo for the various aircraft employed in Vietnam.
   The A-1E Skyraider, a prop driven World War II fighter-bomber, is affectionately labeled "Spad."
The briefing room language of attack pilots that fly over the north include:
   SAM - surface to air missile used by North Vietnamese against American aircraft.
   Jinx - means to take evasive zig-zag action to avoid SAM's.
   Junk - what becomes of a million dollar war plane that zagged when it should have zigged.
Beginning the day a "turtle" arrives, and until he leaves Vietnam as a "short-timer," the most important term in a GI's vocabulary encompasses everything from his sweetheart to Mom's apple pie and a soft bed: The United States - reverently called "The World."

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