When serving during the Vietnam War, many of us were unaware of the real names of our fellow soldiers in the bush; the exception being those extremely close to us. Our fatigues were severely worn and without unit patches, rank and name tags – no identities. Nicknames were easier to remember so that was how we referred to one another; some names were scribed with magic markers on helmet covers to let others know. Soldiers had arrived in country with existing nicknames – either having the moniker since childhood or inherited one in basic training. Those without, were quickly dubbed by their peers, using their looks, stature, home state, last name and occupation before the service as possible criteria to consider. These names stayed with us during our entire tour – and for some of us – ever since.
This is how we knew one another. Unfortunately, this practice caused problems for many of us later in life when trying to locate old friends and/or identifying lost brothers on the Vietnam Memorial Wall. Many vets were successful in their search…others are still trying to find them.
This is a list of nicknames that I’ve compiled from memory. I know it’s not all-inclusive and I’m looking to add to it. If your nickname is not mentioned, please let me know and I’ll make the changes. I’m not certain if call signs are appropriate for this list unless it’s the only alternative name you were known by at the time. Looking forward to your feedback…thank you in advance…Welcome Home to all!
Cool Hand Luke
Jolly Green Giant
Sgt. Bird Shit
Trail Spike 23
Trung Si Ski
Note: All new entries added since publication are in italics.
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