W3 Company - Glossary of Abbreviations and Slang

index of individual stories  photo gallery index

this glossary attempts to explain the technical detail of a situation, and the types of slang in use during the period

click a letter for quick search:  A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  numeral

AAB [No] Australian Army Book, as in the field notebook issued to commanders being AAB 64
active service A force or serviceperson on active service is one engaged in warfare against the enemy - for pension and legal purposes it requires a declaration of active service by a legal authority
admin administration, action of preparing for and maintaining personal and unit preparedness for ops
AK47 NVA/VC semi or fully automatic assault weapon using 7.62mm short ammo
ambush attempt to kill from cover without warning, can be planned or done quickly to meet circumstances
ammo or SAA small arms ammunition, usually bullets but can include grenades and other carried munitions
ANPRC-25 VHF man portable radio used at the sharp end for most variety of communication - called '25 set'
ANPRC-77 improved VHF man portable radio which gradually replaced the 25 Set - called '77 set'
ANZAC Australia New Zealand Army Corps, a designation from Gallipoli 1915 when both countries fought together for the first time, also used to describe a 'common spirit of brotherhood and shared values'
AO area of operations, as in the terrain ground forces patrolled and fought to dominate
AP anti-personnel, as in 'AP mine'
APC armoured personnel carrier, M113 for troops, M125 mortars, M548 cargo, M577 ACV, M579 fitters
arc the area a weapon or soldier was required to cover in an all-round protective posture
arty artillery of any calibre, tracked or towed - common were 105mm, 155mm, 8" howitzers, 40mm 'dusters'
ARU Aust Reinforcement Unit a training and reinforcement pool held in-country by 1ATF
ARVN Army of the Republic of Viet Nam, South Vietnamese government forces
atch attached to another unit in a support role or as a temporary deployment
Aussie Australian, also shortened to 'Aust' in documents
awakey the final day when only one sleep [wake up] remained before a return to 'the world'
AWOL absent without leave, unauthorised absence from duty or place
back pack (or field pack) a grunts load carrying back pack containing field equipment and spare stores, which was dumped whenever a contact occurred; typical weight around 65Lb/30Kg.  See belt order
baggy private soldier [from ill-fitting baggy trousers]
BC abbreviation found in official reports to signify 'body count', VC KIA and body found on the scene
belt order a grunts personal load carrying belt and suspenders containing all his fighting equipment not otherwise carried in the individual back pack, which remained on or close to the individual at all times.  Typical weight around 40Lb/18Kg.  See back pack
bergen a large Scandinavian designed back pack favoured by SAS and radio operators
bn battalion, usually four rifle and two other coy with bn HQ, ANZAC bn had an additional rifle coy
bodycount borrowed from US forces, term used to describe the success or ferocity of engagements, as in 'there was a high bodycount of enemy KIA'
booby trap improvised trap designed to main or severely injure an individual
boonies borrowed from US forces, see bush
boss the informal bush title for an officer, also used to address an officer instead of 'sir'
boundary edge of AO [to be close to or to cross a boundary required permission, called a 'mousetrap']
brass to fire lots of ammo, as in 'we brassed up the track with the M60', also empty ammo cases
brew hot drink, as in 'want a brew..?'  coffee, milk and two sugar was called 'NATO standard'
BT abbreviation found in official reports to mean 'blood trail left by wounded VC'
burst controlled firing of five or more rounds of automatic fire, more depending on urgency
bush jungle, area outside the base perimeter where fighting took place
C&C command and control, as in title applied to helicopter [usually with extra radios fitted] with sunray onboard flying above AO directing ground operations, or a person doing 'C&C' for a task
callsign radio talk to identify or summon particular organisations or people for a radio conversation
cans usually beer, see goffer, 'in the can' meant arrested and locked up
CASEVAC casualty evacuation, an admin reaction to having injured soldiers [see DUSTOFF and MEDEVAC]
CET combat engineer team, assigned to support inf or APC elements likely to require immediate engineer assistance
chalk group of personnel grouped together for travel, like 'your chalk travels on that slick', also 'stick'
charlie slang for VC [phonetically 'victor charlie']
charwallah name for small food stall within the 1RNZIR lines, run by local people offering credit to soldiers
chopper any model of helicopter [but usually US model Iroquois UH-1D troop lift and utility helicopter] flown by allied forces Army Aviation or air force units
Chicom Chinese communist - describes equipment made in Communist China
Chieu Hoy 'Open Arms', programme that allowed VC to defect, and receive money for surrendered weapons
civvies civilians, as in people who had no idea what we were doing, also clothes when out of uniform
clacker electrical firing device used to detonate the Claymore AP mine, from sound made on use
Claymore US model directional anti-personnel mine with 900 ball-bearings, electrically fired singly or in a bank
click kilometre, as in 'travel 6-clicks south..'
combat power mix of weapons, intelligence, communications and personnel capabilities bought against enemy
comms communications, verbal or electronic, as in 'get comms with..[callsign]'
contact sudden engagement with the enemy, or the cry/radio message used to warn that the enemy is engaged, as in 'Contact Front' or 'Contact Fire Mission 2 Mortars'
coord coordination, bringing together different agencies to achieve a common task: arty support for inf attack at a certain time with FAC available to direct air strikes, or engr support to clear mines
coy company, organisation of soldiers for administrative and tactical reasons, such as a rifle company
CP command post
CQMS Company Quartermaster Sergeant, a senior NCO responsible for stores and resupply
CSM Company Sergeant Major, senior OR in company, OC's 'right hand man'
C130 called 'Hercules', US model tactical troop and cargo aircraft used extensively by USAF and RNZAF
C4 type of plastic explosive, commonly found inside the Claymore AP mine
dacrons material and name for Kiwi dress uniform in the tropics, worn with beret and medal bar.  An Australian lanyard designating the ANZAC battalion the soldier was posted to was also worn
D&E Pl HQ 1ATF Defence and Employment platoon, which when HQ 1ATF was not deployed undertook operational tasks
'danger close' indirect fire deliberately adjusted to within 250 metres or closer of troops because significant numbers of enemy are within that range and posing a real danger of overwhelming the troops
DF defensive fire, usually refers to arty fire called to land close to the allied perimeter, can be fired and recorded in anticipation of a VC attack, a 'silent' DF was not fired but still recorded on a register
digger slang for Australian soldier, although the term might have first started in New Zealand 50 years earlier
double-tap snap shooting technique - two rounds are quickly fired at the centre of a target before the firer changes position
DOW died of wounds some time after being wounded
drill see IA
DUSTOFF urgent removal of battle casualties from a contact, usually by chopper
duty officer log read this explanation
engage fire at or close with...
engr  E engineer, support troops used for construction, demolition or battlefield mine/booby trap clearance
FAC Forward Air Controller, usually airborne, who could call for and direct air strikes
FFI 'free from infections', a routine medical inspection to check for skin and other medical problems
field dressing large cotton pad with strapping carried by every grunt and used for emergency first aid to stop bleeding, usually taped to designated equipment [like the individuals rifle butt] for easy location.
firebase semi-permanent defended location in an AO from which a unit supports ops with arty and logistics
firetrail bulldozer clearing of bush to provide better observation of likely VC routes
FOO arty forward observation officer, a captain, usually travelled with Coy HQ to assist the coy commander coord fire support
FOO(A) arty forward observation officer assistant, a NCO or gnr, usually travelled with 3PL as fire support coordinator in place of MFC
free fire zone area free of civilian population, ROE allowed any target to be considered enemy and could be fired at
Freedom Bird a name US servicemen called their final flight out of Vietnam [see World]
FSCC Fire Support Coordination Centre, an arty command post to manage fire from all deployed guns
FSPB Fire Support Patrol Base 'Name' [often an important woman in the sunrays life] - see firebase
goffer can of soft drink [coke etc]
gollock issue machete, rarely used except in FSPB as the noise attracted enemy attention [see secateurs]
gooks see VC
GPMG general purpose machine gun, used at section level for fire support, belt fed  [see M60]
greens green coloured uniform designed for field wear
grunt US slang for infantry soldier, as in 'the only answer you get from a foot soldier is a grunt...'
Australian slang for infantry was 'crunchie', from the sound made when marching on gravel
GSW gun shot wound, as different from shrapnel injury or traumatic amputation
guns see arty
GVN Government of (South) Vietnam
happy pills anti-malarial tablets
harbour bush location where field troops rest and protect themselves
H&I harassment and interdiction, unobserved artillery, mortar or air bombardment on locations [suspected camps, track systems] which might be used by enemy forces, usually fired at night
HE high explosive, the destructive force in artillery shells, mortar bombs, aerial bombs
Hercules see C130
hexie hexamine [solid kerosene] cooking tablet, of UK origin used in training in Malaysia
hoochie borrowed from US slang, hooch meaning house, tent or other living space
HQ headquarters, at any level describes the commanders staff structure
IA immediate action, the instinctive drill in a given circumstance, e.g. ambush or contact
inf infantry
INTREP intelligence report on enemy locations, movement and intentions
J [jay] jungle [see bush]
jungle penetrator

heavy bulb device with fold away seats, lowered from a helicopter by winch to extract people where a landing is not feasible, such as no available LP due to trees

KFS knife fork spoon, used with mess tins.  The preferred KFS were plastic to reduce noise in the bush
KIA killed in action during a contact [see WIA]
Kit Carson a VC defector that then served with allied forces as a scout or interpreter [see Chieu Hoi]
Kiwi

native New Zealander [NZ'er].  Kiwi is the nickname used both internationally and within New Zealand to describe people from New Zealand.  The name derives from the flightless bird native to New Zealand, the national bird.

Many US service people queried the reason a New Zealand unit would display on their vehicles a stylised 'fat arsed chook'.  It is not k1w1..!

Km kilometres, 1000 metres distance on a map or across country
lay-on action where an arty bty anticipates a fire mission and lays the guns onto a likely target reference, then waits the order to fire - allows a quick response to a contact fire request
LFT light fire team, UH-1D helicopter armed with forward firing mini-guns and 2.75" Zuni rocket pods, plus twin M60 in each door, RAAF callsign 'bushranger', two or more were called a HFT [heavy fire team]
lilo Australian model air mattress with inner air tubes that seemed always to deflate in the middle of rest
LO liaison officer, an officer from one formation co-located with another formation to assist both formation commanders with coordination and reporting.
LOB Left Out of Battle - personnel routinely rested from ops [see poque]
loc abbreviation for located or location [to be read in context of paragraph or report]
LOCSTAT indication of location of a force or activity, typically a coded grid reference
LOH light observation helicopter, in 1ATF the Bell 47 Sioux nicknamed 'possum'
long drop a deep trench over which toilet seats are positioned, used in static positions to control faeces
LP landing point, single helicopter pad or area in bush capable of allowing one chopper to land
LZ landing zone, several LP in size and capable of multiple chopper landings and movements
MAINTDEM routine supply to field troops of essential items like food and water, clothing, batteries [see OPDEM]
MEDEVAC medical evacuation [nominally a medical emergency rather than a battle injury], see DUSTOFF
medic medical orderly or trained grunt who would provide medical support and 1st aid when required
mess dining hall, also the barbeque area after the coy returned from ops and relaxed by the beer trailer
mess tins metal dishes used to cook and eat meals, or as a container for shaving water, etc
MFC infantry mortar fire controller [a misnomer as once outside mortar range the MFC directed arty and other fires]
MG machine gun, any model
MID mentioned in dispatches [minor recognition of bravery or outstanding duty]
mini-gun 'Gatling' type machine gun, 6 or more rotating barrels and a very high volume of fire
mortar infantry support weapon which fires bombs in a high trajectory that then plummet onto a target
mossie mosquito, as in 'mossie net'
MPC military payment certificates, having a face value of US currencies but only valid for use by service personnel at Allied facilities, an attempt to control the local black market
mug field cup used to heat brews and rats
M16 US designed AP jumping mine [read this article]
M16-A1 US model 5.56mm [.203in] lightweight personal rifle [see SLR]
M18-A1 designation for Claymore AP mine
M60 US model GPMG, heavy but reliable
M72 US model shoulder fired 72mm light shaped charge rocket used to attack bunkers
M79 US model 40mm grenade launcher
Nasho Australian national serviceman, a two-year conscript  [NZ troops were all professionals]
NCO non-commissioned officer, section commander, platoon sergeant type ranks
NDP night defensive position, a small temporary FSPB for supporting arms like tanks [inf would harbour]
NE north-east, a direction on a map
NOK next of kin - the person registered to receive bad news about a soldier
NOTICAS casualty notification, an abbreviated radio message using a standard format, also 'NOTICAS FATAL'
Nui xx Nui means high ground as in Nui Dat, or Nui May Tau
NVA North Vietnamese Army, usually highly skilled and motivated, a capable and well armed enemy [see VC]
NW north-west, a direction on a map
NZ New Zealand or New Zealander, see Kiwi
OC Officer Commanding, the coy commander, sunray
O Gp orders group, a meeting of personnel to be tasked for future ops
OHP overhead protection - hard cover built as a protective roof over a fighting pit or bunker
OPCON operational control, a status of command where an element works with a different unit who direct its activities, while remaining part of their parent unit
OPDEM urgent supply to field troops of war fighting materials [ammo and weapons], usually to replenish munitions before continuing the fight [see MAINTDEM]
op(s) operation, usually followed by a name, also see AO
OR other ranks, term used to describe soldiers who are not commissioned officers
pad see LP
patrol an activity, or a selection of soldiers from three to company size on task in the bush
pax radio jargon for passenger, as in 'put 8 pax on the slick'
PC slang for APC, as in 'mount that PC'
PE plastic explosive, such as C4
pepper-pot advance to contact in an unpredictable manner using small groups of grunts who cover each others movement with observation and aimed fire, in appearance like shaking out pepper from a pot
pit hole dug or scraped in the ground as protection from incoming rounds and explosives
pl comd platoon commander, usually an officer of Lieutenant rank but others could be 'acting' for the officer if he were absent, e.g. platoon sergeant stepping up as acting pl comd
pl sgt platoon sergeant, usually rank of sergeant, responsible for pl admin and deputising for pl comd
pop smoke to throw a coloured smoke grenade on command to assist helicopters identify the correct LP
poque derisory slang for a permanent LOB
Pte Private, first grade of trained soldier, below NCO.  Equivalent in other corps: Gnr (gunner - artillery), Sig (signaller - Corps of Signals) Spr (sapper - engineers) Tpr (trooper - armoured corps)
Distinction between rank and appointment is whether grade starts with Capital [rank] or no capital [appointment] e.g. Sig Jones acted as gnr...
ptl see patrol, abbreviation is commonly used for small groups temporarily absent from a larger element
PUBLINTICAS message advice with details of a significant event of interest to general media, such as NOTICAS
punji sharpened stick at bottom of camouflaged hole, see booby trap
PUO pyrexia of unknown origin - an undiagnosed body affliction affecting individual performance accompanied by high temperature etc, sometimes in appearance like heat stroke.
PW prisoner of war, combatant captured by the other side
psy ops psychological operations, 'winning hearts and minds', 1ATF Psy Ops unit task
PZ see LZ, but the 'P' distinguishes a site where troops are 'picked up' from
Q store Quartermaster store - location of reserve stores held in the base area
qty abbreviation for quantity, as in 'loc qty of SAA'
RAAF Royal Australian Air Force, the helicopters and caribou transports supporting 1ATF
rainfall rainfall in the wet season [May - November] was measured either in inches or points.  A 'point' is rainfall measured by the horizontal lines on the cylinder every 0.2 mm (0.007", less than 0.1 mm rainfall (0.2 mm in the USA) is generally referred to as a trace.
rank designation of experience and authority - see NCO, Pte, CQMS, CSM, OC
RAP Regimental Aid Post, 1st level medical facility in an infantry bn or similar sized unit
RAR Royal Australian Regiment, Australian infantry structure of nine bn, three of which were during their tour designated ANZAC and had Kiwis attached
rats rations [see this link for more details]
recce short for reconnaissance, US abbreviation was 'recon'
REMF said as written, American term for soldiers who rarely lived dangerously - rear area M F don't ask! [see poque]
resup resupply, see MAINTDEM
RF/PF Regional Force / Popular Force militia, a part of ARVN
RIF 'reconnaissance in force', a patrol searching through an area of bush and staying to fight or ambush
RNZAF Royal New Zealand Air Force, flew resupply from Singapore and attached pilots to 9 Sqn RAAF and USAF
RTNZ 'return to New Zealand' from overseas posting
ROD remained on duty after being WIA, injuries did not require immediate evacuation
ROE Rules of Engagement - restrictions imposed on allied soldiers as to where and when they could shoot
rounds usually refers to ammo, as in 'I fired 20 rounds'
RPG Soviet or Chinese model shoulder fired rocket propelled grenade, used as local firepower by VC
R in C rest in country, a 48-hour recreational break at Peter Badcoe Club Vung Tau, about five times during TOD
R&C rest and convalescence, one short period of leave, for NZ'ers usually 5-day's outside SVN, probably in Singapore
R&R rest and recreation sponsored by the US Forces, one 5-day period outside SVN at different destinations
RV prearranged rendezvous, an agreed map location where two or more patrols meet
SA or SAA abbreviation for small arms [rifle, pistol, machine gun] or small arms ammo [5.56mm, 9mm, 7.62mm]
SAS Special Air Service, either Aussie or Kiwi, lived on SAS Hill the highest point within Nui Dat
SATS scheduled air transport service - weekly RNZAF B-170 logistics flight from Changi to Nui Dat
scout first and second soldier in a patrol, upon which others relied for their safety and early warning of danger
SE south-east, a direction on a map
secateurs hand held pruning shears used to quietly remove bush during movement  [see gollock]
sentry all troops at rest had sentries to ensure their safety and to give early warning of danger, at night usually two people together for support and with staggered start times so one person was always fresh
short period of time left in TOD, as in 'I'm getting short, only 25 and awakey'
sig small 's' means appointment as radio operator [but also a rank, see Pte]
SITREP situation report, usually a coded radio message using a standard format
SLR British model L1A1 7.62mm [.308in] semi-automatic self-loading personal rifle [see M16-A1]
slick single helicopter movement, or slang for an individual troop carrying helicopter
SNCO senior NCO [see NCO]
snoopy US aircraft tasked to scan jungle with a range of human detecting sensors
SOP Standard Operating Procedure, the agreed way for everyone to do certain actions or reports
splinter team small group of field engr attached to rifle units for mine, booby trap or obstacle clearing tasks
sqn squadron, military subunit of company equivalent except in Air Force
stag rostered sentry duty, as in 'your stag starts at 2AM' [sentry rosters had staggered change times]
stand to period at dusk or dawn when activity ceases and arcs are observed, changing from day to night routine or vice versa
Stokes litter rigid stretcher with straps to immobilise a casualty before winching aboard a dustoff helicopter
sunray radio term for the boss of a group of soldiers
SVN South Vietnam
SW south-west, a direction on a map
sweep tactical move through an area to check for bodies, wounded, equipment and sign
Swingfog thermal fogging machine dispensing chemicals as fine aerosol droplets in an extensive dense fog
Tail-end Charlie last person in a patrol, responsible for covering the patrols tracks and observing back over their route to mitigate surprise contact with any following enemy
Tan Tay Lan Vietnamese for 'New Zealander'
TAOR tactical area of responsibility, the area around Nui Dat and other firebases scoured by TAOR patrols
TCV troop carrying vehicle, a International Harvester truck with open tray and seating facing outwards
the Dat Nui Dat, base of 1ATF combat units, as in 'heading back to the Dat'
TOD tour of duty, period of time for a task or posting. SVN TOD were 1 year [typically 364 and a 'wakey']
TPM teleprinter message, the military telegram system common until the 1990's
tracks slang for APC; as in 'moving in the tracks down the coast...'
triangle easily understood shape of a harbour position, known as 'triangular harbour' but also adapted as a drill for ambushes and halts, in SVN suited Claymore deployment and internal control
troopie slang for an ANZAC soldier
Uc Dai Loy Vietnamese for 'Australian'
UH-1D model of American chopper operated in Phuoc Tuy province by 9 Sqn RAAF, called 'Iroquois'
VC Viet Cong, the guerrilla army of the communist National Liberation Front, local provincial soldiers often not well armed and frequently lacking in logistical support
Victor V Coy RNZIR, with numeral to designate which V Coy, as in V5 coy for 5th V Coy
Vungers slang for Vung Tau, as in 'next trip to Vungers I'm going to...'
wakey number of days left in SVN, as in '187 days and a wakey' [wake up and go home]
webbing see belt order
Whiskey also Whisky, W Coy RNZIR, with numeral to designate which W Coy, as in W3 coy for 3rd W Coy
WIA wounded in action and later restored to something like good health [see GSW]
World "the World was anywhere but Vietnam and a Freedom Bird was any aircraft which took you to the World"
1ALSG 1st Australian Logistic Support Group, the 1ATF 'logistic tail' based at Vung Tau
1ATF 1st Australian Task Force, a brigade sized formation based at Nui Dat
161 161 Battery RNZA [Royal New Zealand Artillery]
2IC second in command, sunray minor

'I Was There' - add to the list

index of individual stories