This glossary was published in Joseph Tuso’s Singing the Vietnam Blues: Songs of the Air Force in Southeast Asia, and is used by permission.
Distances appear in nautical miles (NM). One NM equals approximately 1.15 statute miles.
AAA: Anti-aircraft artillery.
AAR: Air-to-air refueling, generally from a KC-135 jet tanker to an F-105 or other aircraft with an AAR capability.
Aardvark: Affectionate name for the General Dynamics F-Il IA.
AB: Afterburner, a device providing extra thrust to a jet engine: usually used sparingly because it consumes much fuel.
Abie: Abbie Hoffman, U.S. anti-war activist of the late sixties.
Abort: To cancel a flight mission, either before takeoff or in the air, because of aircraft or other problems.
AC: Aircraft commander, the pilot in charge of the aircraft.
Ace: A flyer credited with shooting down at least five enemy aircraft in air-to-air combat: also means “good..”
Ack-ack: Antiaircraft artillery.
AD: An air division, usually consisting of several wings of aircraft operating out of different bases.
AFB: Air Force Base.
AIM-9, or Sidewinder: A c105e-range, heat-seeking, air-to-air missile especially favored against MiGs by such aces as Robin Olds and Steve Ritchie.
Airman-third: An extremely low-ranking Air Force enlisted person.
Air Medal: A U.S. decoration for valor or meritorious achievement during aerial flight.
Air patch: An air-to-ground radio relay system for voice communications.
Alpha Frag: See Frag.
Anchor: An air refueling area where tanker and receiver aircraft rendezvous.
Angels: Thousands of feet. e.g.. six angels is 6,000 feet.
A-1E: A small, reciprocating-engine U.S. aircraft, a Sandy.
AR: Air refueling.
Arc lights: Massive high altitude saturation bombing by B-52s.
Arnold, Hap: Henry H. Arnold (1886–1950), military aviation pioneer, commander of the U.S. Army Air Forces in World War Il, and the U.S. Air Force~ first five-star general.
A Shau Valley: About 20 NM (nautical miles) southwest of Hue in South Vietnam.
ATC: Air Training Command, which trains all U.S. Air Force flying and support personnel.
Auger in: To crash an aircraft.
Baby Huey: See Huey.
Bac Can: Enemy airfield 65 NM north of Hanoi.
Bac Giang: A city 25 NM north of Hanoi on the Northeast Railroad to China.
Bac Mai: An enemy airfield about 5 NM southwest of Hanoi.
Bac Ninh: A city 15 NM northeast of Hanoi on the Northeast Railroad to China.
BAK-9: An arresting cable system for stopping aircraft on a runway in emergencies or bad weather.
Banana Valley: Pilot-coined name for a geographical location.
Ban Ban: A city and airfield in Laos, 115 NM northeast of Vientiane near the eastern end of the Plain of Jars, noted for its heavy defensive flak.
Bandit: Any enemy aircraft.
Bandit call: A radio warning of the proximity or approach of hostile aircraft (bandit): a “bad bandit call” is a false alarm.
Ban Karai: A village in North Vietnam 20 NM east of Don Hoi on the Laotian border.
Ban Laboy: A small town in Laos on the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
Ban Phanop: A village in southeastern Laos near the Ho Chi Minh Trail, about 50 NM east of Dong Hoi.
Barracuda: An aircraft, equipped with sophisticated electronic devices, that warns other U.S. aircraft of hostile missile threats or launches.
Barrios: An 8th Tactical Fighter Wing MiG fighter in 1967.
Bat: An aircraft identifier and radio call sign of F-l00s stationed at Phu Cat Air Base in South Vietnam in 1967–68.
Bat Lake: Descriptive name for a North Vietnamese lake 12 NM north of the DMZ and 8 NM from the coast of the Gulf of Tonkin.
BDA: Bomb damage assessment, the results of a bombing mission ascertained from photos or other evidence.
Bear: An affectionate name for an aircraft: also, a backseat pilot or navigator in a two-seat, tandem aircraft.
Beast: An affectionate term for an aircraft.
Beep: The sound made by a downed flyer’s emergency radio or “beeper” by which rescue aircraft fix his position.
Be-No’s: Air Force regulations, which often begin. “There will be no…
B-52: The Boeing Stratofortress. an eight-engine, heavy jet bomber: also called a Buff.
Bien Hoa: U.S. air base in South Vietnam just north of Saigon.
Bingo: Having minimum fuel on board an aircraft.
Bird: A more neutral term for an aircraft than bear or beast.
Birddog: A small, airborne compass.
Black boxes: Radar equipment, computers, or other electronic gear.
Black River: A strategically important river running parallel to and south of the Red River from the northwest to the southeast across North Vietnam.
Black Route: An aircraft reconnaissance route between the 17th and i8th parallels in North Vietnam.
BLC: Boundary layer control: air from the engine compressor of a jet aircraft directed over its wings to increase lift at slow speeds: the BLC light indicates when the air is becoming too hot for continued safe flight.
Blue Boar: An affectionate name for an F-4D Phantom.
Blue Four: An aircraft identifier and radio call sign: Blue Four is the number four aircraft in Blue Flight. See Flight.
Blue Route: Similar to Black Route.
Bobbin: An aircraft identifier and radio call sign.
Boeing Fortress: See B-17.
Boeing Stratofortress: See B-52.
Bogolofski: An 8th TacticaI Fighter Wing MiG fighter in 1967.
Boom: An air refueling receptacle trailing from a tanker aircraft; also the blast of noise on the ground when an overhead aircraft exceeds the speed of sound (“sonic boom”).
Bounce: For one aircraft to be unexpectedly attacked by another.
Bravo, Bravo Frag: A mission flown over Southeast Asia. but not over North Vietnam. See Counter: Freebie.
Bridges, both bridges: Two large bridges near Hanoi.
Brief, briefing: To plan and discuss the tactics of a combat mission prior to takeoff.
Brigham: A ground-based, aircraft radar monitoring agency.
Bronco: A small U.S. aircraft, the Rockwell OV-10A, used for forward air control and quick-response ground support pending the arrival of jet fighters: the Bronco has two turboprop engines.
Brown, or Brown Anchor: An air refueling area in the Gulf of Tonkin.
Brown, General: George S. Brown, commander of the Seventh Air Force in Saigon and later Air Force Chief of Staff (1973-74).
B-17: The Boeing Flying Fortress, a WW II heavy bomber with four reciprocating engines.
Buf or Buff: “Big Ugly Fucker” or “Big Ugly Fat Fellow”: any large aircraft such as the B-52 or EC-121.
Bullpup: A 250-pound U.S. air-to-ground missile.
Bullseye: Nickname for Hanoi, the target of targets.
Bung Bung: Ban Ban (?)
Burner: See AB.
Bust, or bust your ass: To collide, to crash, to ding.
Butterfly: A butterfly-shaped lake just north of the DMZ in North Vietnam.
Call sign: Radio identifier and name for an aircraft or flight of aircraft.
Ca Mau: The southernmost peninsula of South Vietnam at the Mekong Delta
Cam Pho: In South Vietnam just below the DMZ. or 30 NM south of Da Nang.
Cam Ranh Bay: A large U.S. air base about 170 NM northeast of Saigon on the South Vietnam coast.
Canberra: A B-57 medium jet bomber.
Cao Bang: Enemy airfield 100 NM north-northeast of Hanoi, about NM from the Chinese border.
Cap, high cap, MiG cap: Fighter aircraft flying cover or “capping” lower flying aircraft to protect them from hostile planes.
Caribou: The DeHavilland C-7A. a small reciprocating engine U.S. aircraft used to transport troops and cargo.
CBU: Cluster bomb unit: has the same effect as dropping many hand grenades.
Ceiling: The layer of clouds just above the ground under which fighter-bombers can visually work a target: a 200-foot ceiling would be quite dangerous.
Channel 51: A radio navigation aid for U.S. aircraft at Ubon, Thailand.
Channel 97: A radio navigation aid for U.S. aircraft inbound after attacks in North Vietnam.
Chappie: Then Col. Daniel (“Chappie”) James, vice commander of Ubon’s 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, the Wolf Pack.
Charlie: Short for Victor Charlie in the military phonetic alphabet: a VC or Viet Cong soldier.
Charlie Bravo Flight: Over Laos or South Vietnam. See Counter:
Chocks: Blocks placed against the tires of parked aircraft to help keep them from rolling.
Cho Moi: In North Vietnam, about 50 NM north of Hanoi.
Chopper: Nickname for a helicopter.
Claymore: An anti-personnel landmine.
Clear and fifteen: A weather report that indicates clear skies, with fifteen miles of visibility.
Click: A kilometer.
CO: Commanding officer.
Combat pay: Hazardous duty pay: the additional $65 per month received for flying combat in Vietnam.
Commando Nail: A high-altitude radar bomb drop while the aircraft flies straight and level at bomb release.
C-130: The Lockheed-Georgia Hercules, a jet transport plane.
Contrail: Streaks of condensed water vapor created in the air by aircraft flying at high altitudes.
Counter: A combat mission over North Vietnam that “counted” toward the 100 total missions needed by a U.S. flyer for his ticket back to the States.
Credit: For a counter; a flyer wouldn’t get credit toward his 100 missions for a combat mission flown elsewhere than over North Vietnam: such a mission was a “freebie.”
Crispy critters: Enemy soldiers burned by napalm: a macabre phrase borrowed from the name of a popular American breakfast cereal.
Crosshair, crosshairs: A visual aiming device for delivering ordnance
Crown, Crown Alpha: An airborne C-I 30 which directs a search-and-rescue effort to recover a downed American flyer.
Crusader: A U.S. Navy jet carrier fighter used in Vietnam. the Vought F-8E.
Cycle: When a flight of aircraft refuels in turn from a tanker while in formation.
Daisy-cutter: A fragmentation bomb armed to explode just above the ground.
Da Nang: A large U.S. coastal air base in South Vietnam some 350 NM north of Saigon and 100 NM south of the DMZ.
DASC: The Direct Air Support Center, which coordinated certain U.S. air strikes over Southeast Asia.
DCO: See DO.
Delta: Flat, fertile area where the Black or Red rivers meet the Gulf of Tonkin, or the area in the extreme south of South Vietnam.
Delta One-One: A geographical chart position.
DFC: The Distinguished Flying Cross, a U.S. decoration for heroism or extraordinary achievement during aerial flight.
Dien Bien Phu: A city and fortress in far northwest North Vietnam which was captured by the Vietnamese communists from the French in 1954.
Ding: To collide, to crash, to “bust your ass.”
Dingbat: Radio call sign and identifier of a forward air controller.
Divert: To change from a scheduled landing base to an alternate airfield.
DMZ: The Demilitarized Zone at 17° north latitude separating North and South Vietnam as established by the Geneva Convention of 1954.
DO: Deputy commander for operations. or DCO. who directly supervises all wing air operations for the wing commander.
Dolly: An American flyer’s affectionate name for his sweetheart.
Dong Ha: An airfield in South Vietnam, 10 NM south of the DMZ near the coast.
Dong Hoi: Coastal city and airfield in North Vietnam, 30 NM north of the DMZ.
Doppler: Airborne radar navigational device.
Do Son: Enemy airfield 10 NM southeast of Haiphong on the Gulf of Tonkin.
Doumer Bridge: Pronounced Dough-mer, the span over the Red River in North Vietnam named after Paul Doumer (1857–1932), a former president of France.
Down, to be down: To be out of commission or not heard from, e.g., “The MiGs were down during our strike.”
Down the slide: To dive to release ordnance.
Downtown: Nickname for Hanoi taken from the song of the same name made popular by Petula Clark in the sixties: also “crosstown,” “intown,” “uptown.”
Drogue: A small parachute deployed from an aircraft’s tail to slow it during landing.
Droop, or “droop snoot”: An F-4, with its mosquito-like nose.
Drop tanks: Aircraft auxiliary fuel tanks that can be dropped when empty.
D.R.V.: Democratic Republic of Vietnam, or communist North Vietnam.
E & E: The escape and evasion of a downed American flyer.
ECM: Electronic countermeasures.
EC-121R: The electronic warfare version of the Air Force’s earlier C-12l or C-69, derived from the commercial Lockheed Constellation.
Egress: To depart a target area,
EGT: Exhaust gas temperature of a jet engine.
18.23: A geographical location expressed numerically, hence impersonally or ironically.
8th Wing: The 8th Tactical Fighter Wing based at Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base. Thailand: under the leadership of Col. Robin Olds, the 8th TFW, or Wolf Pack, shot down more MiGs over North Vietnam than any other unit.
85s: 85-mm (3.35 inches in diameter) antiaircraft artillery.
Eighty-Nine: An F-89 fighter-interceptor, the Northrop Scorpion.
Eighty-Six: An F-86 fighter, the North American Sabre Jet.
Eject: To be catapulted from an aircraft in an emergency and then parachuted to earth: to punch out.
ELINT: Electronic intelligence data gathered by aircraft, or aircraft specifically performing that function.
Engineer: A flight engineer: an enlisted man or noncommissioned officer who monitors and maintains aircraft operation in-flight and otherwise aids the air crew.
EOGB: Electro-optical guided bomb.
FAC: Forward air controller, the airborne director of strikes against ground targets: the FAC spots targets and then helps attacking aircraft locate them.
Fahnestock clip: Perhaps similar to a clipboard mechanism.
Fan Song: A Soviet-built radar system for detecting enemy aircraft: its search energy is converted to an audible signal which can be heard and recognized by its adversary.
FC-47: Humorous designation for the AC-47 or Puff, the pre-WW II transport converted to gunship use over Southeast Asia: an F designates a fighter aircraft, a C a cargo or transport plane. an A an attack aircraft.
Feet wet: To begin to fly over water, such as over the Gulf of Tonkin.
Fence, to cross the fence: To fly across the Mekong River into or out of the combat zone.
F-5: The Tiger, a Northrop fighter which saw limited use in Vietnam.
F-4C, F-4D: The McDonnell Phantom, a two-engine jet fighter.
.50 cal., .50s: .50-caliber machine-gun fire: its projectiles are ½ inch in diameter.
51: Channel 51 the radio navigation aid located at Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand.
57s: 57-mm (2.25 inches in diameter) antiaircraft artillery.
Final: Proper aircraft heading, descent rate, air speed. and altitude during runway approach prior to landing, or to a target prior to weapons release.
Firecan(s): Same as Fan Song, but at different frequencies with other equipment.
Fishbed-C: A Soviet-built jet aircraft, the MiG-21.
Fisher, Col. Bernie: Won the Medal of Honor for action in the A Shau Valley on March 10. 1966.
Flight: Two or more aircraft flying in formation under the command of a flight leader in the number-one aircraft.
Flight leader, or lead: Commander of a flight of aircraft.
Fluid four: A formation of four aircraft just prior to arriving at a target area: flying at the same altitude about 1,500 feet apart laterally, they may vary 500 feet in fore and aft alignment, thus maximizing their electronic jamming capabilities and permitting them to protect each other’s tails from enemy aircraft.
FNG: “Fuckin’ new guy.” a flyer new to combat.
F-111A: The General Dynamics swingwing jet fighter, or Aardvark.
F-105: The Republic Thunderchief. a jet fighter-bomber: also called a Thud.
Fox-four, Foxtrot-four: An F-4 fighter.
Foxtrot: The letter F in the Air Force phonetic alphabet.
Frag (n. and v.): The scheduled target and tactics for a specific combat mission: to schedule a certain target and tactics.
Frappin’: A euphemism for “fucking.”
Freebie: A mission flown in combat, but not over North Vietnam. See Counter: Credit.
Freedom Fighter(s): The Northrop F-5, designed to be sold to U.S. allies.
Freq: Radio frequency.
FSH: A fighter pilot war cry, often uttered in exasperation: may mean “Fight! Shit! Hate!” which were supposed to be the only essential activities for a genuine fighter pilot: or may mean “Fuckin’ shit hot!” which can indicate high praise, great joy, or even ironic contempt.
Funnel: The end of the air-to-air refueling boom is usually funnel-shaped for better aerodynamic stability.
G: A unit of measure equal to the force of gravity times one.
GCI: Ground controlled intercept; an agency which effects aircraft inflight joinups by radar and voice directions.
GE: General Electric. a manufacturer of jet aircraft engines.
Gear: Landing gear.
Geico: A prolific, ubiquitous Southeast Asian lizard usually three to five inches long which is found on the walls and ceilings of even the best hotels and restaurants: because of its strange cry, it is also called the “Fuck you!” lizard.
GI: U.S. government issue: an American fighting man; also used as an adjective, as in “GI shoes.”
Gia Lam: An enemy airfield just north of Hanoi.
GIB: Acronym for “guy in back”: the pilot or navigator who flies in the backseat of the F-105, F-4, or other tandem. two-seat aircraft.
Gibson, Hoot: Commander of the 433rd Tactical Fighter Squadron, or Satan’s Angels, of the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing.
Golden BB: A projectile destined by fate since time began to shoot down an American flyer.
Golfballs: CBUs (?).
Gomer: A Viet Cong or North Vietnamese soldier, perhaps from Scots “gomeral.” a simpleton, or fool: probably from the simple hero of the U.S. TV show, “Gomer Pyle.”
Green Anchor: An air refueling area.
G-suit: An inflatable garment that automatically counters G-pressures on a pilot’s body during violent aircraft maneuvers; most G-suits during the Vietnam war went from waist to ankles.
Guard channel: A radio channel used primarily for emergency calls.
Guard pukes: Pilots of the U.S. Air National Guard called to active duty during the War in Vietnam.
Gun: An aerial cannon used for air-to-air combat or strafing.
Gyrene: Slang for a U.S. Marine.
HA: A unit identifier on an aircraft’s tail, in this case F-100s from Phu Cat.
Hack: To perform effectively.
Haiphong: North Vietnam’s principal port city, 50 NM east of Hanoi on the Gulf of Tonkin.
Hairy: Problematic, or frightening.
Hammer 41: An aircraft radio call sign and identifier.
Hanoi Hanna: A North Vietnamese radio propagandist similar to Axis Sally and Tokyo Rose of WW II.
Hanoi Hilton: American nickname for Hoa Lo Prison, an infamous POW camp in North Vietnam.
Hassling: Practicing air-to-air combat.
Haul ass: To leave as quickly as possible.
Hazard pay: Hazardous duty pay, or combat pay.
Hectare: A metric unit of area, equal to 2.47 acres.
HEI: High exp1osive incendiary.
High drags: Bombs with special fins or other devices to slow their fall.
Hilton: See Hanoi Hilton.
Hit the silk: To eject or otherwise bail out of an aircraft.
Ho, Uncle Ho, Ho Chi Minh: Leader of North Vietnam until his death in September. 1969.
Hoa Binh: An enemy airfield 30 NM southwest of Hanoi.
Hoa Lac: An enemy airfield 20 NM west of Hanoi.
Hobo Fifty-One: The radio call sign and identifier of Col. Bernie Fisher’s A-I E when he won the Medal of Honor on March to, 1966.
Ho Chi Minh Trail: A major supply route about 300 miles long just inside and parallel to the western Laotian border: it starts near Vinh in North Vietnam, enters Laos through the Mu Gia Pass. and ends near Kontum in South Vietnam.
Hog: Affectionate name for an aircraft. See also Bird; Blue Boar.
Hoi An: A town 40 miles south of Da Nang.
Home drome: The base where a given aircraft is permanently stationed.
Hootch: A hut or building; fighter pilots both live in and attack hootches.
Hose: To shoot automatic weapons or missiles.
Huey: A UH-1. a small U.S. Bell helicopter known for its great maneuverability.
Hundred: One hundred missions over North Vietnam equaled a completed combat tour for a fighter pilot: after the bombing halt of November, 1968. the usual combat tour was one year.
I Corps: A U.S. military command and control area just south of the DMZ, or 17th parallel: South Vietnam was divided from north to south into four areas designated I, II, Ill, and IV Corps.
INS: An airborne inertial navigation system.
Intruder: The Martin B-57 Canberra, a light U.S. bomber.
Invert: A ground-based, aircraft-radar monitoring agency.
Iron bombs: Conventional bombs, as opposed to napalm, CBUs, high drags, or other specialized ordnance.
Iron hands: Wild Weasels, F-105 aircraft specially equipped to detect and knock out hostile SAM sites.
JCS: U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest ranking officers in the U.S. Armed Forces: at the Pentagon they advise the Secretary of Defense and the President, as well as oversee their respective services; also, a JCS-directed mission.
Jinking: Erratic evasive maneuvering of a fighter aircraft after weapon release.
Jock: A pilot: possibly derives from “jockey” or “jockstraps,” since those who wear them are usually athletic, manly, and rugged.
Joinup: An airborne maneuver whereby two aircraft join to fly in formation, or for air-to-air refueling.
Jolly, Jolly Giant, Jolly Green Giant: The Sikorsky HH-3E, a large reconnaissance helicopter used to pick up downed American flyers.
JP-4: Aircraft jet fuel.
Karst: Irregular limestone regions common to Southeast Asia, with sinks, underground streams, and caverns.
Kep, Kep Hay: Enemy airfield 30 NM northeast of Hanoi on the Northeast Railroad to China.
Khe Sanh: A much fought over area 50 miles inland from Hue in South Vietnam.
Khmer Rouge: Cambodian communist armed forces or political party members.
Kirk: An 8th Tactical Fighter Wing MiG fighter in 1967.
Kontum: A town in South Vietnam at the end of the Ho Chi Minh Trail near the 14th parallel.
Korat: A U.S. airbase in northern Thailand about 100 NM northeast of Bangkok, the home of F-4s, F-105s, and other aircraft.
Ladyfingers: 500-pound iron bombs.
Lang Son: An enemy airfield 60 NM north of Haiphong, about 8 NM from the Chinese border on the Northeast Railroad out of Hanoi.
Laos, Laotian: Troubled nation between Thailand and Vietnam into which the war inevitably spread.
Launch light: Indicates the launch of enemy missiles against an aircraft: warns the pilot to maneuver and pray, at the same time, or in that order.
LBJ: Lyndon Baines Johnson, who was president during the war in Vietnam from late 1963 through 1968.
Lead: Leader, or flight leader, the number-one or command aircraft in a formation.
L-5: The Stinson-Vultee Sentinel, a small airborne ambulance used by the U.S. in WW II and in Korea.
LGB: Laser-guided bomb.
Liberator: The B-24, a WW II heavy bomber.
Line: The flightline, where aircraft are parked between missions.
Lion: An agency at Ubon. Thailand. which monitors and controls aircraft arrivals and departures by radar and radio communications: also aids or arranges emergency air-to-air refueling.
Long Binh: A town about 8 NM north of Saigon, the site of a large U.S. Army base.
Looie, or Luey: Slang for “lieutenant.”
Lyndon: Lyndon Baines Johnson. U.S. president from late 1963 through 1968.
Mac: See McNamara. Robert S.
McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas: A training base near Wichita for Vietnam-bound F-105 crew members.
Mach: The speed of sound.
McNamara, Robert S.: U.S. Secretary of Defense under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson.
Mama: Affectionate name for a U.S. flyer’s wife.
Manfield, Mike: U.S. Senate majority leader (D-Mont.) during the Vietnam War who outspokenly opposed presidential policies on Vietnam.
Mao Tse-tung: Powerful Chinese Communist leader during the Vietnam War.
MAP: U.S. Military Assistance Program to specific foreign countries.
Mark 82: A 500-pound iron bomb.
Mateus: A wine popular with U.S. flyers.
Mayday: Traditional radio distress call.
Mekong River: A major river marking the Thai-Laotian border.
MER: An airborne weapons storage and launching rack.
Merlin: An early reciprocating aircraft engine; a V-I2 built by Packard and Rolls Royce used in such aircraft as the P-4O and P-SI from World War II through the Korean War.
MIA: Missing in action, an official government classification for a U.S. service member during wartime.
MiG: A Soviet-built series of jet fighters.
MiG Ridge: A place near Hanoi, the site of many downed enemy aircraft.
Mike-mike: Millimeter; e.g. 20 mike-mike refers to a 20-mm gun.
Milk run: A relatively safe combat mission.
Mils, mills: Incremental settings for an airborne weapons delivery sight.
Mini(s): Miniguns, such as on the AC-47 or AC-13O.
Misty: An identifier and radio call sign for a U.S. forward air controller.
MK-84: A 2,000 pound iron bomb.
Mobile: An air base ground control facility for monitoring local air traffic.
Montagnards: Vietnamese tribal fighters who were usually loyal to U.S. forces.
Mu Gia Pass: A pass about 60 NM northwest of Dong Hoi, where the Ho Chi Minh Trail enters southern North Vietnam from Laos.
Nakhon Phanom, or NKP: A U.S. air base on the Mekong River near the Thai-Laotian border often used for first recovery of downed U.S. flyers.
Nam Dinh: An enemy airfield 38 NM southwest of Haiphong.
Nape, napes: Napalm: napthene and palmitate, a thickener used in jelling gasoline for air-to-ground incendiary bombs.
Nickel: The Republic F-105 Thunderchief: or the 555th Tactical Fighter Squadron (the “Triple Nickel”).
Ninety-four: The F-94, a U.S. nightfighter and interceptor, the Lockheed Starfire.
Ninety-seven: Channel 97, a U.S. radio navigation aid for aircraft use after striking targets in North Vietnam to return to friendly territory in Thailand or South Vietnam.
Nite Owls, Night Owls: The nickname of the 497th Tactical Fighter Squadron of the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing based at Ubon, Thailand; this elite night-flying squadron wore black flying suits and undertook dangerous, often deadly, missions.
Northeast Railroad: Runs for 85 NM from Hanoi to the Chinese border: another 100 NM up the road is the Chinese town of Nan-ning.
North Point: Probably a pilot-coined name for a point of land on the Gulf of Tonkin.
Nozzles: Devices for spraying defoliants in Ranch Hand operations.
Number one: The best in a scale from I to 10: a number-ten pilot would be the worst possible.
OAP: Offset aiming point used in radar bombing.
O’clock: Relative position of another aircraft or object to yours: one dead ahead would be at twelve o’clock one directly behind would be at six, and so on.
O-Club: Officers’ Club.
Old heads: Experienced flyers, in contrast to FNGs (“fuckin’ new guys’).
Olds, Robin: A much-admired WW II ace (12 kills) who commanded the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing at Ubon, Thailand, in 1967; he shot down four more hostile aircraft in Vietnam.
100, one hundred missions: See hundred.
101: An F-101 fighter-interceptor, the McDonnell Voodoo.
102: An F-102 interceptor, the Convair Delta Dagger.
104: An F-104 fighter-interceptor, the Lockheed Starfighter.
O1-E: A small, single-engine Cessna aircraft used in forward air control.
Ops, Operations: An operational office that directs, schedules. and monitors air combat missions.
Orange: Agent Orange. a powerful defoliant used by the U.S. over Vietnam from 1965 to 1970.
Outboards: The racks farthest out on an aircraft’s wings used to carry ordnance or auxiliary fuel tanks.
Overheat light: Warns of an overheating aircraft engine.
OV-10A: See Bronco.
Pack, Package, or Route Package: For air combat purposes, North Vietnam was divided into six operational areas from south to north and designated Route Packages One through Six: Pack Six, the Hanoi area, was an extremely dangerous Package.
Package One: The area of North Vietnam extending 6o NM north of the DMZ.
Parole: A French statesman in the late t96os.
Pass: To dive or lunge at a hostile aircraft; a dive run over a target: over a heavily defended target. the motto was “one pass–haul ass!” which meant to release all the ordnance in one run.
Pathet Lao: Laotian Communist armed forces or political party members.
PC-I: The aircraft primary hydraulic control system.
PDJ: The Plaines des Jarres or Plain of Jars in Northern Laos.
Pedro: A small helicopter used to monitor landings of battle-damaged US. aircraft.
Penetrator: A sharp metal object on the end of a rescue helicopter’s cable that can get through the thick jungle foliage to be grasped by a downed flyer.
Per cent: Usually refers to throttle or acceleration speed: e.g., 80 percent of maximum speed available.
Pete: St. Peter, the gatekeeper of Heaven.
Phat Ban, or Ban Phat (Ban Pha Tang): A village in northeast Laos, 30 NM east of Sam Neua.
Phillips Range: A practice gunnery range near McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas.
Phu Cat: U.S. air base on the coast of South Vietnam about 130 NM south of Da Nang.
Phuc Yen: An enemy airfield 15 NM northwest of Hanoi.
Phu Tho: A town and airfield 40 NM northwest of Hanoi in North Vietnam.
Pickle: To push a button to release ordnance.
Pitch Out: A sharp bank to the right or left to position a fighter for landing.
PIO: Public information officer, a liaison between the military and civilian media; a military news reporter or editor.
Pipper: A visual aiming device for delivering ordnance.
Pissed: To become exceedingly angry.
PJ: A parajumper, or paramedic who leaves a rescue helicopter to assist a downed flyer.
Pod: A chamber containing multiple air-to-ground rockets: a container for electronic countermeasures gear effective against radar-directed fighters and missiles: a multi-aircraft formation maximizing electronic pod effectiveness.
POL: Petroleum and fuel storage.
P-I, P-2: Pressure gauges for engines nos. 1 and 2.
Poop up: To give information.
Poo-ying, Poo-yeng: A Thai woman.
Pop up: To climb rapidly.
Port of embarkation: U.S. departure point for overseas duty.
POW: Prisoner of war.
Press: To fly below a pre-planned weapon release altitude.
Pucker string: An apocryphal part of the human anatomy which when figuratively pulled causes one’s anus to constrict in fear.
Pueblo: A U.S. naval vessel seized by the North Koreans in 1969.
Puff: Nickname for the AC-47 gunship, from the cartoon and song, “Puff the Magic Dragon.”
Puke: Synonym for vomit.
Punch, punch out: To eject from an aircraft.
Purple Heart: A U.S. military award to those wounded in combat.
Purple Route: Similar to Black Route.
QSY: A command to change radio channels.
Quang Khe: A city in North Vietnam, 40 NM north of the DMZ on the coast of the Gulf of Tonkin.
Quang Tri: A city and airfield in South Vietnam, 15 NM south of the DMZ and 25 NM northwest of Hue on the coast.
Radar: Radio detection and ranging equipment, used in a fighter to detect other aircraft and for ordnance delivery.
Ramp: An air-base flightline for parked aircraft.
Ranch Hands: Crews of U.S. aircraft delivering defoliation chemicals; Ranch Hands sought to open up jungle areas.
Ranch-IN: A play on the word drive-in referring to an Officers Club frequented by Ranch Hands, or Air Force defoliation crews.
Recce: Air reconnaissance.
R and R: Rest and Rehabilitation leave; military jargon for a vacation away from one’s normal place of duty.
Red River, Red River Valley, the Red: A strategically important river and its valley, running from the northwest to southeast across North Vietnam and through Hanoi.
Red River Rat: A title of personal pride for American combat flyers who crossed the Red River in North Vietnam.
Red Route: Similar to Black Route.
Republic bomb, Republic’s Ultra Hog: The Republic F-105 Thunderchief.
Ripple: To release bombs in an almost random pattern.
River Kwai Bridge: A famous WW Il bridge in Burma.
Robin, Robin Olds: See Olds, Robin.
Roger: Means “Yes, I understand and will comply.”
Ron: A cape and village in North Vietnam on the Gulf of Tonkin. 50 NM northwest of Dong Hoi.
Round: A single bullet. artillery shell, or ground-to-ground rocket.
Roundeyes: Caucasian women.
Route 1-A: North Vietnam’s north-south coastal highway.
RTB: Return to base.
RTU: A replacement training unit which trains air crew members stateside for Southeast Asia or other operational duty throughout the world.
Rumble seat: The backseat in a tandem, two-seat aircraft.
Russell, Bertrand: Famed English philosopher (1872–1970) and activist for peace and nuclear disarmament who in his last years lent his name to an international war crimes tribunal on American activities in Vietnam: he would not have approved of American defoliation efforts in Southeast Asia.
Russian techs: Soviet technical advisors to forces of communist bloc nations, in this case North Vietnam and the Viet Cong.
Sabre, Sabre jet: The North American F-86 jet fighter famed in air combat over Korea.
SAC: Strategic Air Command, the U.S. Air Force agency responsible for strategic aircraft and missiles.
Safe zone: A relatively safe helicopter pick-up zone for an American flyer downed in hostile territory.
Saigon: The capital of South Vietnam and location of Tan Son Nhut Air Base.
St. Elmo: Saint Elmo’s fire, a phenomenon of stormy weather sometimes seen from aircraft or ships.
SAM: A surface-to-air missile directed at opposing aircraft.
SAM break: Evasive action taken to avoid a SAM.
Samlar: A bicycle cab which holds two people uncomfortably: it has three wheels, and the driver, or samlar. pedals in front.
Sam Neua: A city in northeast Laos about 100 NM southwest of Hanoi and 20 NM from the North Vietnamese border.
Sandy: Radio call sign and identifier of an A1-E propeller-driven aircraft most frequently used to suppress enemy groundfire during a rescue operation for a downed American flyer.
SAR: A search and rescue effort to pick up a downed American flyer.
Saravane: A city in south central Laos.
SA-2: A Soviet-made surface-to-air missile: SA-2s were usually placed in rings around a defended target (“a SAM ring”).
Scanner: The boom operator of a tanker aircraft such as the KC-135 who rides on his stomach in the tail: he faces aft and “scans” or looks through a large window.
Scattered to broken: A weather visibility descriptor of cloud coverage over a given area.
Scragg: To make scraggly, or ragged.
Screwhead: A derogatory term of an idiot: a “fuck head.”
750: A 750-pound iron bomb.
Seventh Air Force: Headquartered at Tan Son Nhut Air Base near Saigon, it directed all air operations in Southeast Asia.
Shack: A direct hit on a target, usually radar directed.
Shit-hot: As an adjective, it qualifies something as being the very best: as an expletive, it indicates great pleasure.
Short-timing: Early sexual ejaculation of the male; also, being near the end of one’s combat tour.
Shrike: The AGM-45 air-to-ground missile designed to home in automatically and destroy an enemy radar installation or missile site: launched by F-105 Wild Weasels, these ten-feet long missiles were highly effective.
Sidewinder: See AIM-9.
Silver Dawn East, West: Air Combat operation areas to the extreme west and east in Vietnam: these identifiers were used early in the air war and were dropped probably in mid-1967.
Singhi: A brand of Thai beer especially popular with Americans.
Sioux City, Iowa: Stateside base of an Air National Guard unit stationed at Phu Cat in South Vietnam,
Site: A SAM site or location.
Six: Six o’clock, or behind an aircraft’s tail. See O’clock.
Six-pack: A six-passenger pickup truck used to transport air crews.
Skoshi: Pidgin-Japanese word meaning “little.”
Skyhawk: A U.S. naval aircraft used over Southeast Asia.
Sky Spot: A high altitude, ground-directed bomb drop usually much safer than dive bombing or strafing at lower altitudes.
Slab: The horizontal tail surface of a supersonic jet aircraft.
Slope, Slopehead: A derogatory term for an Asian.
Smoke: A white phosphorus marker used by a forward air controller to indicate a ground target to an attacking fighter plane.
Snivel, to snivel a counter: To inveigle one’s way into North Vietnam when not originally scheduled to fly there: a fast talking fighter pilot would often try to talk controlling agencies into letting him use extra ordnance in North Vietnam when it was not needed elsewhere: thus he could convert a mission which did not count toward ending his tour (a “freebie”) toward one which would. See Counter: Hundred.
Soft load: An aircraft armed with rockets, cannon, or napalm, rather than with bombs.
Son Tay: A town and POW camp 20 NM west-northwest of Hanoi, the site of the abortive attempt to rescue American POWs on November 20. 1970.
Spare: A ready-to-launch aircraft used to substitute for a scheduled aircraft which is unable to take off, usually because of aircraft or equipment malfunctions.
Sparrow: The AIM-7. a U.S. radar-guided air-to-air missile,
Spectre: An AC-130 Hercules turboprop gunship.
Spin: A deep. spiraling dive. usually uncontrollable.
Split-S: An S-shaped, downward, rolling dive.
Squawked my parrot: To set an airborne emergency signal transmitter on automatic and continuous transmission.
Stab aug: An aircraft’s stabilization augmentation system.
Stand down: A period of non-flying because of poor weather, required maintenance, or the like.
Steer: A compass heading to a destination.
Sun Valley: Pilot-coined name for a geographical location, perhaps in eastern Laos.
Super Sabre: A North American F-100 fighter also used as a fast-moving FAC.
Switchblades: Air crews of the F-111A Aardvark, with its variable wings.
TAC departures: Tactical aircraft departing on a combat mission.
Tach: A tachometer, an instrument for reading engine RPMs.
Takhli: A U.S. air base in Thailand 90 NM north of Bangkok.
Tally Ho: An operational area in North Vietnam just north of the DMZ in Route Package One: also, a radio communication indicating that an aircraft has another aircraft or object in sight.
Tan Son Nhut: A large air base just north of Saigon and headquarters of the U.S. Seventh Air Force, which directed the air war over Southeast Asia.
Tay Ninh: A “mountain.” 3,234 feet high, 70 NM northwest of Saigon on the Laotian border.
TBC: The toss bomb computer used in the F-lO5.
Tchepone: A heavily fortified Laotian town on the Ho Chi Minh ‘mail, 30 NM west of Khe Sanh, or 90 NM west of Hue. which claimed numerous American aircraft.
TDY: A temporary duty assignment.
Tee Luck: English corruption of a Thai word meaning mistress or girlfriends.
Tet: The holiday season of the lunar new year in late January: also, perhaps, a celebration or party.
TFS: Tactical Fighter Squadron: several squadrons make up a Wing.
TFW: Tactical Fighter Wing, composed of several squadrons. See Wing.
Thai Binh: A city 20 NM southwest of Haiphong in North Vietnam.
Thai Nguyen: An enemy airfield 35 NM north of Hanoi.
Thanh Hoa: A strategically important large city in North Vietnam 75 NM south of Hanoi.
Thieu, Nguyen Van: President of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) from 1967 until its defeat by North Vietnam in 1975.
.38: A .38-caliber pistol, official issue to U.S. flyers, usually worn in a shoulder holster.
37s: 37-mm (1.46 inches in diameter) antiaircraft artillery.
Three-sixty: A 360° compass turn, which delays arrival over a target and puts an aircraft back on its original heading.
Thud: A pilot’s affectionate name for the F-105.
Thud Ridge: West of Hanoi, a ridge upon which many F-lO5s crashed.
Thunderchief: Republic’s F-105 jet fighter.
Tiger: The Northrop F-S jet fighter.
Tiger Hound: A combat air operational area in Laos.
TOC: Pronounced “tee-oh-see,” the tactical operations center of a fighter wing.
Tonkin: The Gulf of Tonkin on the east coast off North Vietnam, and off South Vietnam just south to Hue or Da Nang.
Tour: A completed combat tour of duty in Southeast Asia for a U.S. flyer: prior to November. 1968, it was too missions over North Vietnam: after that date it was normally one year.
Tracers: Incendiary projectiles.
Trail: One behind the other in a straight line, as in “aircraft in trail” or “bombs in trail.”
Trash haulers: C-I 30 cargo aircraft and their crews: the importance of what they carried was frequently called into question by fun-loving fighter pilots.
Triple-A: Antiaircraft artillery.
Tuy Hoa: An American air base in South Vietnam about 70 NM north of Cam Ranh Bay.
Tweat, tweet: A T-37 jet trainer, whose pilots were frequently the objects of jokes by fighter pilots.
20 millimeter: Machine guns with projectiles having a diameter of approximately 0.8 inch.
Two AD: Second Air Division.
Ubon Ratchathani, or simply Ubon: An American air base in southeast Thailand about 250 NM east-northeast of Bangkok, home of the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, the Wolf Pack.
Up: Operationally active and a threat to American aircraft: e.g.. “The SAMs or MiGs were up.”
VC: Viet Cong. military supporters of the National Liberation Front: South Vietnamese militant Communists.
Vector: A compass heading to fly.
Victor Charlie: VC in the military phonetic alphabet. See VC.
Viet Tri: A hamlet 25 NM northwest of Hanoi with a strategically important bridge across the Red River.
Vinh: An important North Vietnamese coastal city about 150 NM south of Hanoi.
VIP: A very important person.
Voodoo: A McDonnell F-101 fighter-interceptor.
Vulcan: A high speed. 20-mm Gatling-type airborne cannon.
Wampum: CBUs (?).
Weasel, or Wild Weasel: See Iron Hand.
Weird Harold: An imaginary North Vietnamese aircraft ground observer.
Westmoreland: William C. Westmoreland, U.S. army general and commander of the war in Southeast Asia from 1964 to 1968.
Willie Pete or Willy Pete: White phosphorus 27-mm rockets used primarily by spotter planes. or FACs, to mark targets for fighter aircraft.
Wing: Consists of several squadrons of approximately 25 aircraft each. plus the men and equipment to support them: the smallest U.S. Air Force unit capable of completely independent air operations.
Wolf Pack: See 8th Wing.
Wright, Orville: American aviation pioneer (1871–I948), who together with his brother Wilbur is usually credited with the first U.S. powered flight.
Xuan Son: A small village about 40 miles north of the DMZ in North Vietnam.
Yankee Air Pirate: North Vietnamese English nickname for American flyers in news releases to the world press: the label was later adopted and used with pride by American fighter pilots.
Yazoo: Slang term meaning buttocks.
YGBSM: “You gotta be shittin’ me!”: a popular fighter pilot expression of extreme incredulity.
Yen Bai: An enemy airfield 65 NM northwest of Hanoi.
Zapped: To get hit by enemy antiaircraft, missile, or ground fire.
Zort: To shoot or destroy.
ZPU: Enemy automatic small arms fire.
‘Zuke: ltazuke Air Force Base, Japan.