Military advisers – U.S. Special Forces who were in Vietnam to direct South Vietnamese defenses.
ARVN – Army of the Republic of Vietnam (it was still being spelled Viet Nam at that time.)
birdfarm – aircraft carrier
bombing pause – a temporary stop to the bombing to encourage the North Vietnamese to negotiate.
click – slang for a kilometer.
defoliate – Agent Orange the bitch.
domino theory – our reason for fighting. If we let one country fall to communism, the theory was that the rest would follow like a row of dominoes being knocked over. Read about President Eisenhower’s Domino Theory Speech.
escalation – Increased attacks ordered by President Lyndon Johnson after the Gulf of Tonkin incident. We went from 2,000 troops serving as advisors in 1961 to over 335,000 five years later, and over 540,000 at the beginning of 1969.
fragging – it was first used to describe killing an officer with a fragmentation grenade but came to mean the killing of an officer (their own) in any manner.
grunt – this word became popular in the late 1960s to refer to an infantryman.
hack it – The phrase had been around since at least the early 1900s, but it gained popularity after President Richard Nixon used it in a news conference. He said the South Vietnamese could “hack it”, meaning they would not be harmed by U.S. withdrawal.
kill ratio – the number of enemy deaths compared to the number of U.S. deaths. It’s important to keep score.
napalm – (naphthene palmitate) had been used in firebombs and flame throwers for decades but became part of the antiwar conversation during the Vietnam War. Now you can buy your own flamethrower.
pacification – first used by President Johnson to describe persuading local Vietnamese to support the South Vietnamese government. It later came to a euphemism for killing armed resistance in an area.
search and destroy mission – any ground patrol mission that fought with enemy units in the jungle.
tiger cage – torture cage used by the Việt Minh to hold prisoners.