29 of the best politically incorrect Vietnam War slang terms

Every generation of veterans has its own slang. The location of deployed troops, their mission, and their allies all make for a unique lingo that can be pretty difficult to forget.

vietnam war slang

American troops in Vietnam (Pixabay)

That same vernacular isn’t always politically correct. It’s still worth looking at the non-PC Vietnam War slang used by troops while in country because it gives an insight into the endemic and recurring problems they faced at the time.

Here are some of the less-PC terms used by American troops in Vietnam.

vietnam war slang

Barbecue from a “Zippo Monitor” in Vietnam. (Wikimedia Commons)

Barbecue – Armored Cavalry units requesting Napalm on a location.

Bong Son Bomber – Giant sized joint or marijuana cigarette.

Breaking Starch – Reference to dressing with a new set of dry cleaned or heavily starched fatigues.

Charles – Formal for “Charlie” from the phonetic “Victor Charlie” abbreviation of Viet Cong.

Charm School – Initial training and orientation upon arrival in-country.

Cherry – Designation for new replacement from the states.  Also known as the FNG (f*cking new guy), fresh meat, or new citizens.

Coka Girl  a Vietnamese woman who sells everything except “boom boom” to GIs. “Coka” comes from the Vietnamese pronunciation of Coca-Cola, and “boom boom” can be left to your imagination.

Disneyland Far East  Headquarters building of the U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam. It comes from “Disneyland East,” aka the Pentagon.

Donut Dolly  The women of the American Red Cross.

Vietnam War slang

The Donut Dollies. (From “Cherries: A Vietnam War Novel”)

Fallopian tubing for inside the turrets of tanks – Prank used by tankers to send Cherries on a wild goose chase

Flower Seeker –  Originated from Vietnamese newspapers; describing men looking for prostitutes.

Heads – Troops who used illicit drugs like marijuana.

Ho Chi Minh Road Sticks – Vietnamese sandals made from old truck tires.

vietnam war slang

Ho Chi Minh Road Sticks (from “Cherries: A Vietnam War Novel”_

Idiot Stick   Either a rifle or the curved yoke used by Vietnamese women to carry two baskets or water buckets.

Indian Country – Area controlled by Charlie, also known as the “Bush” or the “Sh*t.”

Juicers  Alcoholics.

Little People  Radio code for ARVN soldiers.

Mad Minute  Order for all bunkers to shoot across their front for one minute to test fire weapons and harass the enemy.

Marvin the Arvin  Stereotypical South Vietnamese Army soldier, similar to a Schmuckatelli. The name comes from the shorthand of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam – ARVN.

Number-One GI A troop who spends a lot of money in Vietnam.

Number-Ten GI – A troop who barely spends money in Vietnam.

Ok Sahlem  Term American soldiers had for villagers’ children who would beg for menthol cigarettes.

Real Life   Also known as Civilian Life; before the war or before the draft.

Remington Raider  Derogatory term, like the modern-day “Fobbit,” For anyone who manned a typewriter.

Re-Up Bird  The Blue Eared Barbet, a jungle bird whose song sounds like “Re-Up.”

vietnam war slang

“Squaaaaak! Talk to your retention counselor! Squaaaaaaak!”

Search and Avoid A derogatory term for an all-ARVN mission.

Voting Machine  The nickname given to ARVN tanks because they only come out during a coup d’etat.

Zippo Raids Burning of Vietnamese villages. Zippo lighters were famously documented by journalist Morley Safer, seen igniting thatch-roof huts.