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Marine Speak

I call it Marine Speak; it's that new language my son came home with after bootcamp. After a couple years, it now rolls off his tongue in a manner that makes me feel inadequate in my own knowledge of what I thought was the English language. Each time he calls, writes, or comes home on leave, he's added to the vocabulary and I struggle to keep up. Let me share with you some of the new words I've learned.

Slang Terms from Operation Iraqi Freedom

All Hands - All members of a command

Ashore - Any place outside of a naval or Marine Corps installation

As You Were - Resume former activity

Belay - To make fast or secure, as in "belay the line", or

Belay That - Cancel or disregard the previous statement or order

Bivouac - A camp in the field

Bow - Front of the ship

Breakout - Take out of stock or storage; prepare for use

Brig - A place of confinement; a prison

Brown Bagger - A married Marine

Boot - A brand new Marine, or "Boot Mistake" is like saying a "Rookie Mistake"

Butterbar - A second Lieutenant; refers to the gold rank insignia

C.O. - Commanding Officer

Conus - Continental United States

C.P. - Command Post in the field

Carry On - The order to resume former activity

Chit - A piece of paper; a receipt or authorization

Cold Cock - To hit someone

Cover - Marines don't wear hats - they wear covers

Page in development

I have copied the remainder of the page below from a personal web site because I was afraid it might disappear from the Internet, and it's excellent. Please visit the author's web site located here:
  • Glossary from a Personal Web Page

    Glossary of Terms

    AH-1G, AH-IJ: The armed version of the UH-1 helicopter. The initial Marine AH-1s were Army G models modified only with Navy compatible radios, Marine green paint and a rotor brake for shipboard operations. Later Marine models such as the AH-1J were specifically designed for Marine aviation requirements and were twin-engined.

    AO: Arial Observer - usually assigned to fly in second seat for Aerial Observation - primarily assigned from infantry, artillery, or intelligence billets.

    AO: Area of operations, similar in definition to TAOR discussed below.

    ARVN: Army of the Republic of Viet Nam.

    BDA: Bomb Damage Assessment - given to fixed wing pilot by airborne AO at end of air to ground support mission.

    BDE: The abbreviation for a US Army brigade.

    BLT: Battalion Landing Team, a US Marine infantry battalion specifically task organized and equipped to conduct amphibious or helicopter-borne landings from the sea.

    CH-34A, CH-34 D: Powered by a single reciprocating engine, this helicopter was the workhorse during the early years of the Vietnam era.  It was used to ferry troops, deliver supplies and for medevac operations.  It was commonly referred to as the “dog”.

    CH-37C: Powered with twin reciprocating engines, this heavy helicopter operated on a limited basis in the early years of the war, mainly for the retrieval of downed aircraft.

    CH-46A, CH-46D: A twin gas turbine powered medium helicopter that replaced the UH-34D for troop and cargo lift, medevac, and other assigned missions.

    CH-53A, CH-53D: A twin gas turbine powered heavy helicopter that replaced the CH-37C for the retrieval of downed aircraft, as well as the movement of heavy and large items of equipment such as trucks and artillery. The CH-53D was the improved version with more powerful engines.

    CHARLEY RIDGE: A prominent ridge of mountainous terrain approximately 20 miles southwest of Da Nang that afforded the Viet Cong, also known as "Charley," a route from Laos into the Da Nang area. It was the site of many Marine operations aimed at disrupting Charley's movement of men and supplies.

    CHINOOK: The generic name or nickname of the US Army's CH-47 heavy helicopter.

    CIDG: Civil Indigenous Defense Group, a paramilitary, militia-type unit made up of local Vietnamese who participated in the defense of their own village or hamlet.

    CO: The Commanding Officer, or Commander of a specific unit.

    CP: Command Post, the location from which the CO commanded his unit. This could range from an extensive permanent building complex to a hole in the ground.

    D/CS: Deputy Chief of Staff. The staff officer responsible for a specific function such as D/CS AIR (Aviation) at Headquarters, US Marine Corps, responsible for all aviation matters.

    DET: Abbreviation for detachment, usually a parent organization's smaller detached unit capable of self-sustained operations. For example, DET, HMH-463 would indicate a small number (4-6) of CH-53 helicopters operating independently of the parent unit, HMH-463.

    DMZ: The Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Viet Nam that was established by the United Nations at the time French IndoChina was partitioned into the two countries. It was generally ignored by both sides during the war.

    EAGLE FLIGHT: (also PACIFIER, KINGFISHER, SPARROWHAWK) A package of aircraft, on either ground or airborne alert, designated to respond to emergency situations or targets of opportunity by either inserting ground units or attacking by fire or both. The group usually consisted of a command helicopter, troop lift helicopters and attack helicopters. In some instances, fixed wing attack aircraft were also added to the package.

    FAC: Forward Air Controller - usually a pilot assigned to a ground unit for air-to-ground liaison between aviation and ground units.

    GUARD Channel: The universal radio channel monitored by all aircraft on which emergency transmissions and requests for assistance are made.

    H&MS: Headquarters and Maintenance Squadron, a unit of a Marine Aircraft Group that performs both administrative functions and intermediate level aircraft maintenance. In some cases, an H&MS would operate small numbers of specialized aircraft, such as the CH-37C from 1965-1967.

    HARDHAT: An acronym for the aircrew member's protective helmet.

    Hill 55: (and others such as Hill 845 etc) A means of identifying hill formations on the metric maps used in Viet Nam. The numbers indicating the height above sea level in meters of the highest point of that particular formation.

    HMH: Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron, the first H means helicopter; the M means Marine; the second H means heavy.

    HML: Marine Light Helicopter Squadron, the first H means helicopter; the M means Marine; the L means light.

    HMM: Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron, the first H means helicopter; the M means Marine; the M means medium. (NOTE) The three numbers following these letters usually identified the original parent Marine Aircraft Group and the sequence in which the squadron was first commissioned. HMM-161 was the first squadron commissioned in MAG-16. HML-367 was the seventh squadron commissioned in MAG-36. There were exceptions. HMH-463 was not the third squadron commissioned in MAG-46. MAG-46 did not exist in the active force structure. it was then and still is a Marine Reserve Aircraft Group. As a wartime expedient both HMH-462 and HMH-463 were commissioned in other aircraft groups and, when operational, were transferred to MAG-36 and MAG-16 respectively.

    I CORPS: Viet Nam was divided into 4 geographical areas known as Corps in order to delineate responsibility for the military operations therein. From north to south they were I Corps, II Corps, III Corps and IV Corps. Early in the war, The US Marines were designated responsible for I Corps, which extended from the DMZ in the north and included the provinces of Quang Tri, Thua Thien, Quang Nam, Quang Tin and Quang Ngai Province in the south.

    IFR: Instrument Flight Rules, a condition during which a pilot is flying in the clouds on instruments, and without reference to either the natural horizon or the ground.

    KIA: Killed In Action.

    LPD: Landing Platform Dock, a Navy amphibious ship, capable of supporting and operating a small number of helicopters for an extended period of time. Usually, 4 to 6 on board with 2 being operated simultaneously.

    LPH: Landing Platform Helicopter, a Navy amphibious ship, capable of supporting and operating a squadron of helicopters for an extended period of time, and capable of transporting and off-loading a battalion of Marines at the same time.

    LZ: Landing Zone, an unimproved site where helicopters landed in the performance of their assigned mission.

    M-60:The standard light machine gun of US Marines in Viet Nam, in both ground and aviation units. In helicopter squadrons, M-60s were mounted in fixed forward firing positions on UH-lE gunships, and on flexible pintle mounts in the UH-1E side doors as well. They were also employed in the door or windows of transport helicopters (UH-34, CH-46, CH-53).

    MAB: Marine Amphibious Brigade, a temporary headquarters superimposed over such amphibious units as a Regimental Landing Team and a Provisional Marine Aircraft Group. The MAB was identical in mission and structure to the Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB.)

    MABS: Marine Airbase Squadron, the housekeeping unit of a MAG.

    MACV: Military Assistance Command Viet Nam, the senior US headquarter charged with overall responsibility for conduct of the war.

    MAG: Marine Aircraft Group, the unit immediately superior to aircraft squadrons, A helicopter MAG typically would have the following squadrons: 3 HMMs, I HML, I HMH, 1 H&MS, and I MABS attached.

    MEB: Marine Expeditionary Brigade, identical to the MAB discussed above.

    MEDEVAC: Medical evacuation, the term generally used to identify the mission of Marine helicopters involved in rescuing wounded, injured, and sick personnel.

    MMAF: Marble Mountain Air Facility, the home of MAG-16 from August, 1965 until May, 1971, located east of the Da Nang Air Base, on the beach, between China Beach and the Marble Mountains.

    MOS: Military Occupational Specialty - four digit code for a specific job type.

    MSO: A US Navy wood-hulled mine sweeper.

    MUV: Marine Unit Vietnam, the temporary identification of Marine helicopter squadrons operating from Da Nang Air Base in 1965 prior to the arrival in country of MAG-16.

    NSA: Naval Support Activity, a US Navy organization responsible for various support functions in the Da Nang area, such as port facilities, fuel storage areas, and hospitals, i.e., the NSA Hospital.

    NVA: North Vietnamese Army.

    NW: Northwest

    0-1, 0-IC: A light single engine observation aircraft used for forward air control, artillery spotting and general reconnaissance, from 1962 to 1969.

    OV-IOA: A twin turboprop, twin boom observation aircraft that replaced the 0-1s in 1968. It had significantly greater performance and carried a larger payload.

    POW: Prisoner of War.

    PROVMAG: Provisional Marine Aircraft Group, a temporary group organized for a limited period of time to meet a specific tactical or operational need.

    QEC: Quick Engine Change, an expedient procedure developed to quickly change the engine of a downed helicopter in the field.

    RLT: Regimental Landing Team, a US Marine infantry regiment specifically task organized and equipped to conduct amphibious or helicopter-borne landings from the sea.

    RPG: Rocket Propelled Grenade, an enemy grenade fired from a device utilizing a small rocket propellant charge, greatly increasing its normal range.

    RVN: Republic of Viet Nam.

    SAR: Search and Rescue, the mission assigned to either dedicated aviation units or other available aviation units related to locating and extracting downed aircrews and other personnel. The term CSAR identified Combat Search and Rescue units of the Air Force and Navy who were specifically trained and equipped to operate in heavily defended North Vietnamese airspace to conduct SAR missions.

    SAR NORTH: The SAR mission north of the DMZ assigned in the early years of the war to Marine HMM squadrons, prior to the assignment of the specific CSAR units discussed above.

    SHU-FLY: The name coined for the initial introduction of USMC helicopters into Viet Nam in 1962.

    SLF: Special Landing Force, the designation of the USMC BLT and HMM squadron assigned to the Seventh Fleet Amphibious Ready Group. The SLF regularly conducted amphibious operations across Vietnamese beaches into areas of suspected VC and NVA activity.

    SW: Southwest.

    TAC(A): Tactical Air Controller (Airborne) - either a qualified pilot or a qualified Aerial Observer who is responsible for the safe conduct of air-to-ground strikes, artillery strikes or naval gunfire missions.

    TAOR: Tactical Area of Responsibility, the geographical area assigned to a military unit having responsibility for all operations therein, i.e., the First Marine Division's TAOR was the city of Da Nang and surrounding areas defined by specific features such as rivers, roads etc.

    TF: Task Force, a unit temporarily organized to carry out a specific short term mission.

    UH-1, UH-IB, UH-1E: The "Huey" was the standard US Army troop carrying helicopter in Viet Nam. The Marine version, the UH-1E was able to operate from shipboard. It performed command and control, liaison, observation, gunship, and medevac missions.

    UH-34D: The standard USMC medium helicopter at the beginning of the war. It served in Viet Nam from April, 1962 until August, 1969.

    UA: Unauthorized Absence, both a disciplinary term, and an acronym for anything or person not in the place it is expected to be.

    UTT: Utility Tactical Transport, the name of the Army's UH-1B gunship unit early in the war when the helicopter gunship was still in an experimental state.

    VC: Viet Cong, or Charley, the original enemy in South Viet Nam.

    VMO: Marine Observation Squadron, the V means fixed wing; the M means Marine; the 0 means observation.

    VNAF: Vietnamese Air Force.

    WIA: Wounded in Action.

    XO: Executive Officer, the second in command of a unit.

    ZERO/ZERO: Zero ceiling, zero forward visibility, as in IFR flight conditions.


    ABOARD: on base; with us.

    ACTUAL: radio talk for unit commander.

    ALL HANDS: everyone.

    AMTRACK: amphibious tractor; landing craft.

    AO DAI (Viet.): formal attire worn by Vietnamese women.

    AS YOU WERE!: resume what you were doing; correction.

    ASSHOLES AND ELBOWS: in a hurry; quickly.

    BA MUI BA ("33"): Vietnamese beer.

    BAC SI (Viet.): Doctor, used for Corpsman.

    BAM: Broad Ass Marine; derogatory name for Woman Marine.

    BARRACKS COVER: garrison (frame) cap.

    BATTLE PIN: necktie clip.

    BCD: Bad Conduct Discharge.

    BELAY: stop; quit.

    BILLET: assignment or job; place of residence.

    BIRD: aircraft. BLOUSE: n. jacket; v. tuck in, secure.

    BLOUSING BANDS: elastic bands used to secure utility trouser cuffs.

    BLUES: Dress Blues.

    BLT: Battalion Landing Team.

    BOONDOCKS (BOONIES): rugged isolated back country.

    BOONDOCKERS: low-topped work boots issued to reservists.

    BOOT: recruit.

    BOO-COO: (Fr. beaucoup) much, many.

    BRAIN HOUSING GROUP: your gourd, mind, brain, or head.

    BRASS: officers.

    BRIG: jail.

    BRIG RAT: jail inmate.

    BRIG CHASER: MP assigned to escort prisoners.

    BROTHER: black Marine (also Splib).

    BROWN SIDE-OUT: desert camouflage pattern.

    BULKHEAD: wall.

    BY-THE-NUMBERS: in sequence.

    CANNON COCKERS: artillerymen.

    CARRY ON!: resume what you were doing; as you were.

    CASUAL COMPANY: unit of Marines awaiting reassignment.

    CC: Corrective Custody; jail, the brig.

    CHUCK: black Marine's term for white Marine.

    CG: Commanding General.

    CHIEU HOI (Viet.): freedom; safe conduct pass; program whereby VC who surrendered were assured safe conduct.

    CHIMPO: see choda.

    CHIT: written authorization or receipt.

    CHODA: same as chimpo.

    CHOW: food.

    CHOW HALL: mess hall.

    CLICK: one notch of adjustment on a rifle.

    CINDERELLA LIBERTY: time off which ends at midnight.

    CO (Viet.): girl, woman.

    COLORS: n. the flag; v. ceremony of raising or lowering the flag.

    CON BIET? (Viet) do you understand?

    C-RATS: C rations, canned field rations.

    COM RATS: commuted rations; in lieu pay for meals eaten off base.

    CORPSMAN: Navy medic serving with Marines.

    COVER: hat.

    COVER ASS: take precautions to avoid blame.

    THE CROTCH: derogatory term for Marine Corps.

    CRUISE: period of enlistment; tour of duty.

    DECK: floor.

    DEUCE-AND-A-HALF: 2 1/2 ton truck.

    DI-DI (Viet.): leave, go, move out.

    DI-DI MAU (Viet.): emphatic of Di-di.

    DIDDY BAG: cloth, drawstring bag for small items.

    DIDDY BOP: swagger; affected walk.

    DINK: Vietnamese.

    DINKY-DAU (Viet): crazy.

    DOG-AND-PONY-SHOW: special presentation put on for visiting dignitaries.

    DOUBLE TIME: quickly; at a run.

    DRY FIRE: practice.

    DRY RUN: practice.

    DU-DIT (Viet): fuck you!

    EIGHTH & EYE: Headquarters Marine Corps.

    ENTRENCHING TOOL (E-TOOL): small folding field shovel.

    EVERY SWINGING DICK: All hands, everyone.

    EYE FUCK: scrutinize; inspect closely.

    FARTSACK: mattress cover.

    FIELD DAY: general cleanup of barracks.

    FIELD SCARF: necktie.

    FIELD STRIP: disassemble; take apart.

    FIRE IN THE HOLE!: warning that explosives are about to be detonated.

    FIRST SHIRT (ALSO TOP): First Sergeant.

    FLOAT PHASE: sea deployment of a Marine unit.

    FMF: Fleet Marine Force.

    FOUR-BY: light truck.

    FRONT LEANING REST POSITION: pushup position ("the Position").

    GALLEY: kitchen.

    GANG WAY!: stand back! move away!

    GEDUNK: sweets or a store that sells sweets.

    GEAR: equipment.

    GI CAN: garbage can.

    GIZMO: gadget; anything that defies discription.

    GOURD: head; where you hang your cover.

    GREEN SIDE-OUT: woodland pattern camouflage.

    GRAB A HAT: leave.

    GRINDER: parade ground.

    GUIDON: pennant bearing unit designation.

    GUNG HO: lit. work together; (from Chinese) highly motivated.

    GUNGY: gung ho.

    GUNNY: Gunnery Sergeant.

    GRABASS (ORGANIZED GRABASS): play; sports, frivolous activity.

    GREEN MACHINE: Marine Corps.

    HAM: Hairy Assed Marine; male Marine.

    HAM AND MOTHERS: "Ham and Motherfuckers;" generally detested C-ration meal posing as ham and lima beans.

    HATCH: door.

    HARD CHARGER: motivated Marine.

    HEAD: toilet.

    HIGH-AND-TIGHT: standard Marine haircut; shaved sides and short on top.

    HOLLYWOOD MARINE: San Diego MCRD graduate.

    HOOCH (Jap.): any kind of shelter, residence.

    HONCHO (Jap.): boss; man in charge.

    HOUSE MOUSE: Drill Instructor's go-fer.

    HUMP: to march; to carry; to be burdened with.

    HUSS: a favor; a break e.g., "gimme a huss;" archaic name for HU34D helicopter.

    INCOMING!: hostile fire being received!

    IRISH PENNANT: string dangling from clothing indicating unkempt appearance.

    ITR: Infantry Training Regiment.

    JARHEAD: Marine.

    JIBS: teeth, esp. front incisors, e.g., "I'll bust your jibs."

    JING (also jing-wa, Jap.): change; money.

    JOE SHIT THE RAGMAN: bad example, un-squared-away Marine, boyfriend of Rosy Rottencrotch.

    JUNK-ON-THE-BUNK: complete clothing and equipment inspection (also Things-on-the-Springs) laid out on the rack.

    K-BAR: Marine-issue fighting knife.

    KLICK: kilometer.

    LADDER (or ladderway): stairs.

    LAI DAY (Viet.): come here!

    LEAVE: authorized absence of more than 24 hours.

    LIBERTY: authorized absence of less than 24 hours.

    LOCK AND LOAD: arm and ready your weapon; get ready!

    MAKE A HOLE!: stand back! gang way!

    MAGGIE'S DRAWERS: red disc used on the rifle range to signify missing the target.

    MOS: assigned job specialty.

    MUSTANG (Mustanger): enlisted man who becomes an officer.

    NON-QUAL: Marine who fails to fire a qualifying score at the rifle range.

    OFFICE HOURS: summary court marshall, official inquiry or reprimand.

    OFFICE POGUE: desk-bound Marine.

    ONTOS: armored tracked vehicle mounting six 106 mm recoiless rifles.

    OUTSTANDING!: exceptional; well done!

    OVERHEAD: ceiling.

    OVER THE HILL: absent without authorization.

    OVER THE HUMP: more than halfway through enlistment.

    PASSAGEWAY: corridor; hallway.

    PIECE: rifle.

    PISS CUTTER: envelope-shaped overseas cap.

    PISS-AND-PUNK: bread and water punishment.

    PISS TUBE: field urinal; rocket launcher (bazooka) which resembles one.

    POGUE: lazy individual, also office worker.

    POGEY BAIT: candy, sweets.

    POLICE CALL: time allocated to clean up an area.

    POLICE UP: clean up.

    POOP (also dope, scoop): information.

    POP-FLARE: hand held and launched aireal illumination flare.

    PT: Physical Training; exercise.

    QUARTERS: living space.

    RACK: bed, bunk.

    RAPPEL: descend from cliff or helicopter by rope.

    RECON (also Force Recon): Force Reconnaissance Marine.

    ROMP 'N' STOMP: to drill, march.

    ROUND: bullet or artillery or mortar shell.

    RUBBER LADY: inflatable air mattress.

    SALT: experience; an old-timer Marine.

    SALTY: smart-mouthed; opinionated.

    SCOSHI (or scosh'): small, short, a little bit.

    SCUTTLEBUTT: rumors; a drinking fountain.

    SEABAG: duffle bag.

    SEA DUTY: billited aboard a ship.

    SEA GOING BELLHOP: derog. for Marine, from Marines assigned to the bridge of a vessel.

    SEA STORY: a lie or an exaggeration.

    SEA LAWYER: self-appointed expert.

    SECURE: tie down or make fast; also to recycle or dispose of; to put something in its proper place; to desist.

    SEVEN-EIGHTY-TWO GEAR: field equipment; canvas web gear.

    SHIT BIRD: messy or undisciplined; a fuck up.

    SHIT CAN: (v) to dispose of; (n) garbage can.

    SHORT: nearing the end of a tour of duty or enlistment.

    SHORT ROUND: ordnance which is landing short of the intended target.

    SHORT TIME: a very brief love affair.

    SHORTTIMER: Marine nearing the end of an enlistment period.

    SICK BAY: clinic or hospital.

    SIX-BY (six-by-six): standard three-axle truck.

    SIX-SIX-AND-A-KICK: The ultimate General court marshall punishment consisting of six months forfeiture of pay, six months hard labor, and a dishonorable discharge.

    SKIPPER: captain; commanding officer.

    SKIVVIES: underwear.

    SKIVVIE HONCHO: a lothario; a ladies man.

    SKIVVIE HOUSE: brothel.

    SLOPCHUTE: diner; restaurant.

    SMOKING LAMP: authority to smoke when it is lit.

    SNAP IN: practice, esp. on the rifle range.

    SNOOPIN' AND POOPIN': reconnoitering.

    SNOT LOCKER: nose.

    SOUND OFF!: assertively voice.

    SORRY 'BOUT THAT!: assertion of mock apology.

    SPUD LOCKER: pantry.

    SQUAD BAY: barracks.

    SQUARED AWAY: neat, orderly, organized.

    SQUID: (derog.) sailor.

    STACK ARMS!: command given to place 3 rifles in a pyramid.

    STACKING SWIVEL: appendage near muzzle of rifle allowing stacked arms; neck.

    STAND BY!: prepare.

    STANDBY: waiting status.

    STARCHIES: starched utilities.

    STROKE BOOK: porno magazine.

    SURVEY: dispose of; recycle.

    SWAB: mop.

    SWABBIE: sailor.

    TI TI (Viet.) (pron. tee-tee): little, small.

    TOP: Sergeant Major.

    TOPSIDE: upstairs; on deck.

    TROPS: khaki tropical summer dress uniform.

    TURN TO: begin work.

    UA: Unauthorized Absence.

    UD: Undesireable Discharge.

    UTILITIES: olive drab field uniform.

    WILLIE PETER: white phosphorus.

    THE WORD: confirmed official information; the straight scoop.

    ZERO-DARK-THIRTY: pre-dawn; early.



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