The LOTA Glossary (3)

More terms from the Vietnam war listed in the glossary to Last of the Annamese:

PCOD stood for “pussy cutoff date,” used by the military to mean date of departure from Vietnam. It was the slang form of DEROS, “date eligible for return from overseas.”

RA all the way meant gung ho, completely devoted. RA at the beginning of a soldier’s serial number stood for “regular army,” indicating that the soldier was not drafted but enlisted. Drafted soldiers’ serial number began with US. Enlisted soldiers sometimes looked down draftees as lesser combatants, inducted into the military by the force of law rather than by free will.

Real world, sometime abbreviated to world, in military parlance, meant the territorial U.S. Vietnam was called “in-country” or “’Nam.”

Slick was a small unarmed helicopter, usually a Huey.

SPG stood for “Special Planning Group,” formed to plan and coordinate the evacuation as Saigon fell. It’s cover name was Alamo.

Tet is the English version of the Vietnamese word Tết. It refers to the annual Vietnamese lunar new year celebration occurring at the end of January or beginning of February in the solar calendar. Tết is the biggest Vietnamese holiday, marking, among other things, the end of winter and the beginning of spring. The word is known to most Americans because of the 1968 Tet Offensive, launched by the North Vietnamese in the middle of the holiday celebration.

VC is the abbreviation for Việt Cộng, itself an abbreviation for Việt Nam Cộng Sn, meaning “Vietnamese Communist.” The designation VC or Viet Cong was often used by U.S. personnel to mean independent indigenous southern communist forces in Vietnam—as opposed to North Vietnamese Army, or NVA, meaning military forces infiltrated from North Vietnam. In reality, there was no distinction. All enemy forces were Vietnamese Communist and all were under the complete control of North Vietnam. The North Vietnamese themselves divided their forces into local forces, guerrillas, and regular army. These elements worked together in coordination dictated by North Vietnam.

These terms and much of the language in Last of the Annamese derives from the fact that the three principal male characters in the story are Marines—one active duty U.S., one retired U.S., and one South Vietnamese. Their identity as Marines reflects my deep respect for and gratitude to the Marines who saved my life when Saigon fell.

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