A Rumor of War

A Rumor of War


Philip Caputo

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Viet Cong

Often abbreviated as “VC,” the Viet Cong (or Viet Nam Cong San) was a guerilla force that, with the assistance of the North Vietnamese Army, fought against South Vietnam from the late-1950s to 1975 and… read analysis of Viet Cong


Army of the Republic of Vietnam, also known as the South Vietnamese Army (SVA). read analysis of ARVN


Absent Without Leave. read analysis of AWOL


Noncommissioned Officer. read analysis of NCO


Private First Class. In the U.S. Marine Corps, it is the second-lowest rank, above a private and below a lance corporal. A Private First Class is a Junior Enlisted and has an E-2 paygrade… read analysis of PFC
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Lance Corporal

In the U.S. Marine Corps, it is the third enlisted rank, above a Private First Class and directly below a corporal. A lance corporal is a Junior Enlisted and has an E-3 paygrade. Marines… read analysis of Lance Corporal


In the U.S. Marine Corps, corporal is a junior NCO rank and the fourth rank, above a lance corporal and directly below a sergeant. A corporal has an E-4 paygrade. read analysis of Corporal


In the U.S. Marine Corps, sergeant is a junior NCO rank and the oldest rank in the Marines. Sergeants serve as squad leaders during combat and lead eight soldiers, including at least one corporalread analysis of Sergeant

Gunnery Sergeant

An NCO who manages fire power and logistics for a company of marines. It is the seventh rank in the Marine Corps, above Staff Sergeant and below Master Sergeant. read analysis of Gunnery Sergeant


A commissioned officer. In the U.S. Marine Corps, the rank is divided between Second Lieutenant, who is lower-ranking, and First Lieutenant. A first lieutenant ranks below a captain, or skipper. read analysis of Lieutenant

Lieutenant Colonel

In the U.S. Marine Corps, lieutenant colonel is the second field officer grade commissioned officer rank. Lieutenant Colonels can command anywhere from 300 to 1,000 soldiers, with the assistance of a Major, several junior commissioned… read analysis of Lieutenant Colonel


A specialized soldier who provides additional fire power, usually by throwing grenades. read analysis of Grenadier

Xenophon’s Immortals

A group of infantrymen from within the Persian Empire which, in 401 BCE, included Egypt, Georgia, Pakistan, and the Dardanelles (part of modern-day Turkey). The Immortals got their name from the fact that their number… read analysis of Xenophon’s Immortals


Bachelor Officer Quarters. read analysis of BOQ


Killed in action. read analysis of KIA


Wounded in action. read analysis of WIA


Main line of resistance. read analysis of MLR


Landing zone. read analysis of LZ


Gunshot wound. read analysis of GSW


A nickname for a captain in the Navy or the Marine Corps. read analysis of Skipper

Point Man

The soldier who leads his unit into combat in enemy terrain. The point man has the lowest chance for survival and is the most vulnerable to a sniper’s bullet. read analysis of Point Man


In the context of Glen Lemmon telling Caputo to go down to the company area, it means “to hurry.” Hayako is a popular Japanese name for girls. One of the Kanji characters chosen to spell… read analysis of Hayako


Military slang for one of the female Japanese servants who does the laundry for soldiers at the BOQ. read analysis of Naisson


A big, flat-bed truck used for carrying men and materials. The bed is enclosed on all sides by wooden slats, and is sometimes covered with canvas. read analysis of Six-by

Ao dai

A traditional Vietnamese dress worn by guests at weddings, women who work at shops, and school girls. The dress, which has long sleeves and a high collar, is sometimes worn with trousers. It is very… read analysis of Ao dai


A traditional Chinese boat with large sterns, sharp bows, and a raised deck. They are usually used for sailing, but they can also be rowed with very large oars. read analysis of Sampan


A piece of artillery that is notable for having a barrel, which can sometimes be quite long, that is used to launch projectiles. The howitzer is fired by pulling a lanyard, or a cord. A… read analysis of Howitzer


An assignment for housing and lodging. read analysis of Billet


A nickname for a bag of white phosphorus—a toxic substance used in munitions. read analysis of Willy-peter

Immersion Foot

Also called “trench foot,” it is a painful disorder of the foot caused by prolonged exposure to cold dampness or as a result of having one’s feet immersed for too long in cold water. Immersion… read analysis of Immersion Foot