Definition of Common Terms
AC - aircraft, usually helicopters, primarily UH-I
There were three basic gunship configurations in the 134th AHC:
belt-fed 40 mm grenade launcher mounted in a ball turret on the nose of the
aircraft. The M-5 (as well as sometimes the ship itself) was called a Chunker or
was often temporarily mounted on a ship when other armament systems were
down for maintenance.
In its original gun platoon, the 134th had 6 Slaughter Ships and 2 Frogs or Chunkers (150 & 151). In later years the Frogs were converted to Hogs due to airframe stress problems.
AC - aircraft commander, the
AHC - Assault Helicopter Company. This was the most common helicopter unit. It included 31 UH-1's and the equipment and personnel to maintain and repair the aircraft. Each AHC had 2 lift platoons of 11 aircraft each, a gun platoon of 8 aircraft and a service or maintenance platoon with 1 aircraft. There were approximately 300 men in an AHC, including 50-60 pilots. Other types of helicopter units were:
AO - Area of operations, terrain.
ARVN - Army of the Republic of Vietnam soldiers.
Ash & Trash - any type of non-combat aviation mission. Also called
Base Camp - a semi-permanent field headquarters and center for a given unit. Base camps usually contain all or part of a unit’s support elements.
Bird - any aircraft, usually a helicopter.
Bird Dog - Army O-1 two seat, fixed wing aircraft used for aerial observation and spotting for artillery or fighter bombers. Bird dog units were called Recon Airplane Companies (RAC).
Bladder -a heavy duty, rubberized collapsible petroleum drum ranging from 2,000-5,000 gallons in size. Used for aircraft field refueling stations.
Body Bag - the plastic bags used for retrieving bodies on the battlefield.
Bunker - a protective shelter, often underground and made of concrete, or timber and sand bags.
CA - combat assault (troop insertion or extraction). A fully coordinated airmobile operation often involving artillery preparation of the landing zone.
CAB - combat aviation battalion, next higher command over a company.
CAV - nickname for Air Calvary, a recon and scout unit that has aerial scout ships, slicks and gunships as well as its own infantry troops. Also used to refer to armored cavalry which uses M113 APCs and other light armored vehicles.
C&C - command and control ship, usually a slick carrying the commander of the unit on the ground.
CE - crew engineer, or
Central Highlands - a high plateau area covering most of I Corps and II Corps (the northern half of South Vietnam, inhabited mostly by Montagnard tribesmen (a local and relatively backward indigenous people who did not mix with Vietnamese).
Chicken Plate- nickname for chest protector (body armor) worn by helicopter crewmen. Sometimes sat on by gunners and CE’s to protect other vital parts.
Chinook- the CH-47, twin rotor, cargo helicopter. Also called
CO - commanding officer, often called
Conex - a large metal military container roughly 6'x6'x7' tall, used for shipping and storing supplies and equipment, and often for bunkers, showers, etc.
C - Rations - canned, single meal rations issued for field operations (not very tasty).
DA - density altitude, the higher the DA, the less lift a helicopter could achieve. Higher temperatures or higher elevation (such as in the central highlands) caused the air to be less dense, resulting in less lift for the rotor blades.
DEROS - Date of Expected Return from Overseas, the date you were allowed to go home.
Dustoff - a nickname for a medical evacuation helicopter or mission, also
Elephant Grass - tall, sharp-edged grass found in the highlands of Vietnam, often reaching 6' tall or more and making judgement of where the ground actually was very difficult for pilots or troops jumping out of the helicopter.
FAC - usually US Air Force Forward Air Controller but sometimes Army fixed wing.
Firebase - a remote artillery position, usually quite isolated with airlift support being the primary means of resupply.
Fire Team - usually two gunships that flew together and coordinated their attack so that one ship covered the other as it finished a gun run and turned outbound (its most vulnerable period) from the target. A light fire team was 2 ships and a heavy fire team consisted of 3 ships.
Flack Jacket - heavy, flexible, fiberglass-filled vest worn for protection from light shrapnel. Different from the Chicken Plate which was much heavier and made of rigid ceramics and metal.
FNG - f***ing new guy.
Free Fire Zone - an area where one could shoot at any target without securing prior permission, often used for “clearing weapons” on the AC to make sure they were working properly.
Grunt - affectionate name for infantry soldiers or
Gunner - helicopter crewman acting as machine gunner. Could be almost anyone but often an aircraft mechanic still learning the job.
Hootch - house, native hut or GI living quarters.
HQ - any headquarters unit, also where ever the CO is located.
Huey - the Bell UH-1
I Corps - northernmost military region of South Vietnam, beginning south of Danang.
II Corps - region encompassing area from south of Danang to south of Cam Ranh Bay.
III Corps - military region from south of Cam Ranh Bay to north of Saigon.
IV Corps - military region from southern tip of Vietnam to north of Saigon.
IFR - instrument flight rules. When flying IFR you can't see the ground or the horizon and must depend on instruments.
IP - instructor pilot, authorized to certify other pilots as flight ready. An SIP is a Standards Instructor Pilot who ensures army flight standards and training are being adhered to.
Knots - nautical miles per hour used for stating aircraft airspeed.
KIA - killed in action
LZ - landing zone.
LRRP - long range reconnaissance patrols, normally consisting of 4-6 men who were dropped by helicopter in remote areas to observe enemy movements or locate targets. Normally each infantry division or brigade had its own LRRP platoon.
LRRPs - in jargon
M-16 - standard US Army infantry rifle, firing a 5.56mm bullet.
M-60 - most common US Army machine gun, firing a 7.62mm bullet.
MACV - Military Assistance Command Vietnam
Mama - San - an older Vietnamese woman who was usually employed to do laundry and clean hootches.
Mike Force - Special Forces Mobile Strike Force composed of US leaders and indigenous troops, and used as a reaction or reinforcing unit. Generally battalion size or larger.
Montagnards - one of the indigenous mountain tribe people of the central highlands of Vietnam. Usually pronounced
Nails - 2.75" rocket warheads loaded with hundreds of small steel darts called
Napalm - highly flammable explosive (gelled gasoline) used by the Air Force to burn up an area and incinerate enemy troops.
NVA - North Vietnamese Army soldiers/units.
P - 38 - small GI issue can opener canned C-rations.
Papa San - an older Vietnamese man who usually was employed to do general labor around the compound, including filling sand bags and cleaning latrines.
PIC - pilot in command, different from AC in that PIC was whoever was senior between two pilots who had not yet received official unit designations as AC.
Pop Smoke - to mark a location, LZ or target with a colored smoke grenade. Then a pilot would call out the color to ensure the right location.
Pucker Factor - gauge of the level of fear or anxiety in the risk or difficulty in a mission.
R&R - rest and recuperation, generally out of the country for most people. Grunts could get a little R&R by just NOT being in the field.
Radios - FM radios were used primarily by the infantry, UHF by Army, Navy and Air Force aircraft, and VHF for Army command & control activities, ship-to-ship and local airfield towers. Most helicopters had all three types of radios, sometimes several of each.
RECON - reconnaissance
Revetment - protected parking place for helicopters on an airfield, often an L shaped, two foot wide, dirt-filled wall about 5 foot high to shield the AC from mortar shrapnel.
ROKs - Republic of Korea soldiers. There were about 50,000 ROK troops in II Corps.
RPG - rifle propelled grenade, Russian-manufactured antitank grenade launcher.
Short Final - the last minute or so of an aircraft’s flight path as it approaches an airfield or LZ.
Snake - the AH-1 Cobra gunship built specifically for armored attack. Some assault helicopter units had their UH-1 gunships replaced with AH-1’s after 1968 or so while other retained the older gunships which were better at providing very close support to ground troops.
Sniffer Mission - slicks configured with ammonia detection sensors attached to the skids would fly low-level just above the tree tops to detect ammonia given off in urine and perspiration of humans. The strength of the signal allowed one to roughly estimate the number of unseen enemy troops below the jungle canopy.
Sortie - one aircraft takeoff and landing to conduct a mission.
Tailboom - the back end of a Huey beginning just behind the engine compartment.
TOC - Tactical Operation Center, pronounced
Tracer - a bullet that leaves a visible trail as it travels from phosphorus packed in a small cavity in its base. US tracers were red and Russian/Chinese tracers were usually green.
Triple canopy - thickest jungle with vegetation growing at 3 levels, often reaching up more than 50 feet.
VC - Viet Cong, or local guerilla fighters.
HERO - a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. Definition of those who served with the 134th AHC.
Last modified: Saturday June 18th, 2022