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Vietnamese Military Mail Terms and Markings

KBC 4113 unit marking Republic of Viet-Nam (ARVN) military covers are typically identified by the presence of a KBC unit number (either manuscript or as a unit handstamp) and/or a "QUAN BUU" circular date stamp or machine cancel. Vietnamese military terms, typically in the address or return address, can reveal additional information about the unit sending or receiving the letter and add historical interest.

Joe Cartafalsa, in his article "An Introduction to the Military Mail of South Viet-Nam" (The Congress Book 2000), states that most Vietnamese military covers "were written rapidly with as little effort as possible. This lack of information on a cover is the reason that collecting South Vietnamese military mail is so difficult. Another reason is that no one knows where [the majority of] KBC numbers were located. Covers with contents are much sought after as they sometimes mention where the person was assigned."

South Vietnam First Military Stamp M1 North Vietnamese and Socialist Republic of Viet-Nam military (PAVN) covers may have a military box number (HT) such as "HT 8100 71 K12" or "HT 4R 433", and may often be identified by the presence of a military stamp.

This dictionary is an attempt to list and translate many of the Vietnamese Military Terms and Markings, as well as typical abbreviations (blue), found on Vietnamese military mail. These include unit designations and slogans, postal markings and general military terms. While not exhaustive, this document should give the military postal historian a good basis for identifying Vietnam War material. Many of the terms are illustrated with images of Vietnamese military covers (click on the red photo links to view).

Click here to view a number of Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) military ID cards.

I wish to thank Mr. Toan Nguyen for his kind assistance compiling this document. Without his help, this guide would be a much less accurate and useful.

- Andrew Crenshaw

I apologize to Vietnamese readers for not including diatrical marks, however many web users do not have Vietnamese language packs installed on their web browser. All mistakes are certainly my own and can be brought to my attention via e-mail at .

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Republic of Viet-Nam Military Mail Terms:

Ban Quan Y = Medical Unit
Bao Chinh Doan = National Guard
Bao Dam (BD) = Registered
Bao Toan va Tiep Lieu = Maintenance & Supply
Bat Chanh Qui Quan = Irregular Troops
Benh Xa = Dispensary (Medical)
Biet Cach Nhay Du = Airborne Rangers
Biet Doi = "Special Group" - temporary unit for a single mission  photo
Biet Doi Thao Go (BDTG) = Special Team Defuse (explosives)
Biet Dong Quan (BDQ) = Ranger  photo
Biet Hai Quan = Special Navy
Binh Bi = Military
Binh Doan = Regional Army Corps
Binh Nhat = Private First Class
Binh Nhat Phao Binh = Private First Class, Artillery
Binh Nhi = Private
Binh Nhi Bo Binh = Private, Infantry
Binh Si Nhay Du = Parachutist
Binh Chung Truyen Tin = Signal Corps
Bo Binh (BB) = Infantry
Bo Binh Co Van = Motorized Infantry
Bo Chi Huy (BCH) = Command Post / Fleet Command (Navy)
Bo Tu Lenh (BTL) = Headquarters
Bo Tu Lenh Ham Doi = Naval Fleet Headquarters
Buu Chinh = Postal Service
Buu Dien = Post Office  photo
Buu Phi = Postage
Buu Ta = Postman
Buu Tin = Mail
Buu Tin Vien = Mail Clerk  photo
Buu Uy = Military Mailman or Courier, Usually Without the Authority of Buu Tin Vien (q.v.)
Can Cu (Cn) or (CC) = Base
Can Cu Hai Quan (CCHQ) = Naval Base  photo
Canh Sat Quoc Gia = National Police or "White Mice"  photo
Cao Xa = Anti-Aircraft Unit
Cap Tuong Khong Quan = General Grade Officer, Air Force
Cap Tuong Hai Quan = General Grade Officer, Navy
Cap Tuong Phong Khong = General Grade Officer, Air Defense
Chi Doi = Armored Squadron
Chi Huy Truong (CHT) = Commanding Officer  photo
Chien Doan (CD) = Brigade or Task Force
Chien Si = Warrior
Chien Tranh Chanh Tri (CTCT) = Political Warfare Unit
Chien Tranh Tam Ly (CTTL) = Psychological Warfare Department
Chien Truong = Battlefield
Chieu Hoi Program = Open Arms Program, Sought to Encourage Communist Defectors  photo
Chuan Tuong = Aspirant / Brigadier General
Chuan Uy (C/U,CH/U or CH/UY) = Warrant Officer (top of NCO rank / Aspirant) / Cadet - Air Force
Chuan Uy Quan Phap = Warrant Officer, Military Justice
Chuyen Nghiep (CN) = Specialist
Chuyen Phong = Border Defense  photo
Chuyen Van = Transport (Naval Flotilla)
Chuyen Vien Pha Huy = Demolition Specialist
Chuyen Vien Tiep Te = Supply Specialist
Co Khi (CK) = Mechanic
Cong Binh (CB) = Engineers
Cong Chuc Quoc Phong = Civilian Working for Military Unit
Da Chin = Field as in Da Chien So 2 - 2d Field Division
Dai Bac = Cannon
Dai Doi (DD) = Company
Dai Doi Biet Hai (DDBH) = Special Navy Company
Dai Duong = Ocean
Dai Ta = Colonel / Senior Grade Officer
Dai Ta Bo Binh = Colonel, Infantry
Dai Tuong = Senior General (equivalent to US General)
Dai Uy = Captain
Dai Uy Thiet Giap = Captain, Armour
Dai Ta = Colonel ("Senior Grade Superior Officer")
Dai Uy = Captain ("Senior Grade Junior Officer")
De Nhat Quan Khu = Military Zone 1 ("De Nhat" = One, borrowed from the Chinese)
Dia Phuong Quan (DPQ or DP) = Regional Forces  photo
Dien Thoai Vien = Telephone Operator
Dinh Vu So (DVS) = Job Number
Doan = Squadron or Group, General Term for a Front, Division, Brigade, etc.
Doan Vu Ky (DVK) = Weapons Group
Don Trai = Camp
Don Vi = Unit
Dong Dan = Escort Ship
Du Bi = Preparatory / Temporary
Duong Van Ham (DVH) = Landing Ship Transport
Duyen Doan (DD15) = Coastal Division
Duyen Phong = Coastal Defense
Giang Canh (GC) = River Police
Giang Doan = River Group
Giang Doan Ngan Chan (GDNC) = River Interdiction Group
Giang Doan Thuy Bo (GDTB) = Amphibious River Group
Giang Doan Thuan Tham (GDTT) = River Patrol Group
Giang Doan Ho Tong = River Escort Group
Giang Doan Truc Loi = River Mine Group
Giang Doan Xuan Phong = River Assault Group
Ha Si = Corporal
Ha Si Quan (HSQ) = Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO)
Ha Si Quan Y = Corporal, Medical Unit
Hai Doi = Navy Group / Flotilla
Hai Luc = Sea Force
Hai Phao Ha Si Quan Chuyen Nghiep (HP HSQ/CN) = NCO War Ship Cannon Specialist  photo
Hai Quan (HQ) = Navy photo
Hai Quan Cao Xa (HQCX) = Naval Anti-Aircraft Unit
Hanh Quan (HQ) = In the Field / Operation
Hanh Quan Vuot Bien = Operation Outside Vietnam; Likely Cambodia or Laos
Hau Cu = Main Base / "In Vietnam" (For Out-of-Country Operations)
Hau Phuong = Rear Area
Hau Ve Quan = Rear Guard
Ho Tong Ham = Patrol Craft
Hoa Hoc = Chemical Branch
Hoa Van Ham (HVH) = Oil Transport Ship
Hoc Vien = NCO or Enlisted Man Attending Advanced Specialized Training  photo
Hoc Vien Ha Si Quan Bo Binh Co Gioi = NCO Trainee, Armourer
Hoc Vien Hai Phao = Trainee War Ship Cannon Group
Hoi Chanh = Former Communist who defected to South Vietnamese side
Ho Tong = Escort (Naval)
Ho Tong Ham (HTH) = Patrol Craft / Escort
Huan Luyen (HL) = Training
Huan Luyen Can Ban = Basic Training
Huan Luyen Cao Cap = Advanced Training
Huan Luyen Chien Thuat = Tactical Training
Huan Luyen Ky Thuat = Technical Training
Huan Luyen Vien = Instructor or Drill Master
Huong Dao Vien = Scout
Khan = Urgent
Khoa = Class (e.g. Khoa 3/73 = 3d class 1973)
Khoa Sinh Ha Si Quan (KSHSQ) = NCO Trainee
Khong Doan Chien Thuat = Tactical Wing
Khong Doan Yem Cu (KQYC) = Base Support Air Group
Khong Phan = Air Space
Khong Quan (KQ) = Air Force
Khong Quan Cua Hai Quan = Naval Aviation
Khong Soan = Wing (Air Force)
Khong Tap = Air Strike
Khong Tham = Air Reconnaisance
Khu Buu Chinh (KBC) = Military Postal Zone or Area
Khu Truc Ham (KTH) = Destroyer (Navy)
Kiem Tin = Censored
Kien Tao = Construction
Kinh Binh = Rifleman
Ky Binh = Cavalry
Ky Su = Engineer
Lien Doan (LD) = Group
Lien Doi Nguoi Nhai (LDNN) = Frogman Group
Lien Lo Quan = Army Group
Linh Canh Tu = Prison Guard
Linh Chua Lua = Fireman
Linh Nhay Du = Paratrooper (Airborne)
Linh Phong Ve Duyen Hai = Coast Guard
Linh Thiet Giap = Tankman
Lo Quan = Army
Lu Doan = Brigade
Luc Quan = Ground Forces
Luc Luong Dac Biet (LLDB or LDB) = Special Forces
Luc Luong Dac Nhiem (LLDN or DNLL) = Special Mission Task Force
LLDN Duyen Phong 213 = Special Mission Task Force Coast Guard / Surveillance 213
LLDN Thuy Bo 211 = Special Mission Task Force Sea & Land (Amphibious) 211
LLDN Tuan Tham 212 = Special Mission Task Force Patrol 212
LLDN Trung Uong (or Dong) 214 = Special Mission Task Force Central 214
Luc Luong Duyen Phong (LLDP) = Coastal Defense Task Force
Luc Luong Giang Canh (LLGC) = River Police Force
Luc Luong Gioi Tuyen = Border Force (Special Forces)
Luc Luong Tinh Bao Dac Biet (LLTDB or DNLL) = Special Forces Intelligence
Luc Luong Tuan Tham 212 (LLTT) = Task Force 212
Luc Luong Thuy Bo (LLTB) = Special Naval Infantry (Amphibious) Task Force
Luc Quan = Army
Mat = Confidential
Mat Ma Vien = Cryptologist
Mat Tran = Front
Mu Do = Red Beret (Vietnamese Airborne)
Ngan Chan = Interdiction
Nghia Quan (NQ) = Popular Forces
Nguoi Coi Vo Tuyen Dien = Radio Operator
Nguoi Di Quan Dich = Draftee
Nguoi Chua Vo Tuyen Dien = Radio Repairman
Nguoi Giai Phau = Surgeon
Nguoi Lam Bep = Cook
Nguoi Lanh Dao = Leader
Nguoi Mac Day Dien Thoai = Telephone Line Repairman
Nguoi Nhai = Frogman
Nha = Corps
Nha Binh = Military
Nha Quan Cu = Ordnance Corps
Nha Quan Nhu = Quartermaster Corps
Nha Quan Y = Medical Corps
Nha Thuong = Hospital
Nhay Du (ND) = Airborne / Paratrooper  photo  photo
Nui = Mountain
Oanh Tac Co = Bombardier
Pha Huy = Demolition
Phan Chi Khu (PCK) = District Police (Rural)
Phan Doi = Section (Company or sometimes Regiment)
Phao Binh (PB) = Artillery
Phao Binh Co Van = Motorized Artillery
Phao Binh Da Chien = Field Artillery
Phao Binh Duyen Hai = Coastal Artillery
Phao Binh Hang Nang = Heavy Artillery
Phao Binh Hang Nhe = Light Artillery
Phao Binh Hang Trung = Medium Artillery
Phao Binh Luu Dong = Mobile Artillery
Phao Binh Phong Khong = Anti- Aircraft Artillery
Phao Binh Su Doan = Divisional Artillery
Phao Binh Thiet Giap = Armored Artillery
Phao Dai = Bunker
Phao Doi Chi Huy = Artillery Battery Headquarters  photo
Phao Doi Truong = Battery Commander
Phao Ham = Gun Boat
Phao Luy = Fort
Phao Thu = Cannoneer/ Artillery Man
Phao Thuyen = Gun Boat
Phi Co = Plane
Phi Co Huan Luyen = Training Plane
Phi Co Khu Truc = Fighter Plane
Phi Co Len Thang = Helicopter
Phi Co Oanh Tac = Bomber
Phi Co Phan Luc = Jet Plane
Phi Co Tai Thuong = Air Ambulance
Phi Co Tuc Thang = Helicopter
Phi Co Van Tai = Transport Plane
Phi Cong = Pilot
Phi Doan = Flying Squadron  photo
Phi Doi (PD) = Squadron
Phi Hanh = Flight  photo
Phi Hanh Gia = Pilot
Phi Tac = Air Mission
Phi Truong = Airport
Phong Huan Luyen = Training Department
Phong Khong = Air Defense
Phong Thu = Defense
Phong Thu Hai Cang (PTHC) = Harbor Defense
Phong Ve Duyen Hai = Coast Guard
Quan Buu = Military Mail
Quan Buu Chinh = Military Mail Postage or Frank
Quan Buu Cuc = Military Post Office - Where "Quan Buu" Cancels Were Applied
Quan Cang = Military Port
Quan Canh (QC) = Military Police / Prison Guard  photo
Quan Cu = Ordnance
Quan Dich = Military Service / Draft
Quan Dinh = Military Camp (no longer used – see Trai Linh)
Quan Doan = Strategic Army Corps
Quan Doi = Army Troops
Quan Doi Cach Mang = Revolutionary Army
Quan Doi Chanh Quy = Regular Army
Quan Hai = First Lieutenant (no longer used)*
Quan Ham = Warship
Quan Khu = Military Zone
Quan Linh = Soldiers, Troops
Quan Luc = Armed Forces
Quan Luc Viet Nam Cong Hoa = Army of the Republic of Vietnam
Quan Mot = Second Lieutenant (no longer used)*
Quan Nam = Colonel (no longer used)*
Quan Nhan = Soldier (Military Man)
Quan Nhu = Quartermaster Corps / Military Supplies Corps
Quan Sat Vien = Observer
Quan Si = Soldiers, Warriors
Quan Su = Military
Quan Thu (accent on "u") = Enemy
Quan Thu (QT) ("u" has “hook”) = Military Mail / Correspondence  photo
Quan Tinh Nguyen = Volunteer
Quan Truong = Military School
Quan Tu = Major (no longer used)*
Quan Vu = Military Service
Quan Y / Binh Chung Quan Y / Cuc Quan Y= Medical Corps
Quan Y Vien = Military Hospital / Medical Corpsman
Ra Da = Radar Unit
Radar Dia Sat = Ground Radar
Rung = Forest
Rung Nui Sin Lay (RNSL) = Rung (forest) Nui (mountain) Sin Lay (mud). This was the name of a Ranger training course at Duc My in Nha Trang
Sat Cong = Kill Communists (VC) - Motto of various units, esp. naval
Si Quan = Commissioned Officer
Si Quan Coi Vo Tuyen Dien = Radio Officer
Si Quan Hai Quan = Naval Officer
Si Quan Hanh Quan = Operations Officer
Si Quan Phu Ta Xu Ly = Executive Officer
Si Quan Phu Trach = Officer in Charge
Si Quan Quan Buu = Postal Officer
Si Quan Quan Thue = Customs / Revenue Officer
Si Quan Quan Tri Va Nhan Vien = Human Resource Officer
Si Quan Tai Chanh = Finance Officer
Si Quan Thong Tin Cong Cong = Public Relations Officer
Si Quan Tiep Te = Supply Officer
Si Quan Tinh Bao = Intelligence Officer
Si Quan Tuyen Binh = Recruiting Officer
Si Tot = Soldiers
Sinh Vien Si Quan (SVSQ) = Officer Trainee Cadet  photo
Sinh Vien Si Quan Bo Binh = Officer Trainee, Infantry
Sinh Vien Si Quan Tru Bi Thu Duc = Trainee Cadet at Thu Duc Reserved Infantry School
Sinh Vien Si Quan Vo Bi / Da Lat = Officer Cadet at National Military Academy in Dalat
So Quan (SQ) = Military Service Number
Su Doan (SD) = Division
Su Doan 2 Khong Quan (SD2KQ) = 2nd Air Division  photo
Su Doan Khinh Chien (SDKC) = Light Division (e.g.12th Light Division)
Sung Phong Phao = Artillery
Tai Xe = Driver
Tem Thu (Thandstamp) = Postage Due
Ten Lua = SAM Unit
Tham Bao = Recon Unit  photo
Tham Kich = Recon Force
Tham Sat = Recon
Thien Xa = Sharpshooter
Thiet Giap = Calvary, Armor
Thieu Doi Truong = Squad Leader
Thieu Khu (TK) = Small Unit
Thieu Ta = Major ("Junior Grade Superior Officer")
Thieu Ta Ky Thuat = Major, Technical Sector
Thieu Tuong = Major ("Junior") General
Thieu Tuong Cong Binh = Major General, Engineers
Thieu Uy (TH/U) = Second Lieutenant
Tho May = Mechanic
Thong Tin Vien = Messenger
Thong Tuong = General
Thu = Letter
Thu Bin = Military Letter
Thu Ky (Quan Nhan) = Clerk
Thu Hanh Quan = “In the Field”
Thu Linh Hanh Quan = “Soldier's Letter in the Field”
Thuong Khan = Extremely Urgent
Thuong Si = WOJG-1 or First Sergeant
Thuong Si Hoa Hoc = Master Sergeant, Chemical Branch
Thuong Si Nhat = Sergeant Major
Thuong Uy Bo Binh Co Gioi = Second Lieutenant,Armour
Thuong Uy Dac Cong = Captain, Sappers
Thuy Bo = Amphibious
Thuy Cong = Underwater Demolition Team
Thuy Quan = Navy
Thuy Quan Luc Chien (TQLC) = Marines  photo
Thuy Thu = Sailor
Thuy Xuong (Hai Quan) = Repair Facility (Naval)
Tiep Lieu = Supplies
Tieu Dinh = Small Ship
Tieu Doan (TD) = Battalion
Tieu Doan Chuyen Nghiep (TDCN) = Specialist Battalion
Tieu Doan Chien Thuat = Battalion Combat Team
Tieu Doan Kinh Quan (TDKQ) = Commando Battalion, short lived during French Period
Tien Doan Yem Tro Triep = Supply and Support (Naval Base)
Tieu Doi = Squad
Tieu Doi Truong = Squad Leader
Tieu Khu (TK) = Sector
Toan = Group or Team
Toan Quan Chien Dau = Combat Group
Tong Bo An Ninh = Central Committee Security - Military/Political Correctness Censor
Tong Hanh Dinh(THD) = Headquarters
Tong Y Vien (TYV) = Military Hospital
Trai Giam = Concentration Camp / Disciplinary Barracks
Trai Huan Luyen = Training Camp
Trai Linh = Military Camp
Trai Tap Trung = Concentration Camp
Trai Tu Binh = Prisoner of War Camp
Trang Giap Ham = Armoured Ship
Trinh Sat = Reconnaissance
Truc Loi = Minesweeper
Truc Loi Dinh (TLD) = Motor Launch Mine Sweeper
Trung Doan = Regiment
Trung Doan Chien Thuat = Regimental Combat Team
Trung Doi (TRD) = Platoon
Trung Doi Truong = Platoon Leader
Trung Si (T/S) or TSI) = Sergeant
Trung Si Cong Binh = Sergeant, Engineers
Trung Si Nhat = Master Sergeant / Sergeant First Class
Trung Ta = Lieutenant Colonel
Trung Ta Phao Binh = Lieutenant Colonel, Artillery
Trung Tam = Center (i.e. Training Center)
Trung Tam Cai Huan = "Center to Teach Change" - Chieu Hoi Program Camp Marking
Trung Tam Huan Luyen Hai Quan (TTHL / HQ) = Naval Forces Training Center  photo
Trung Tuong = Lieutenant General ("Intermediate General")
Trung Tuong Hau Can = Lieutenant General, Logistical/Supply Units (?)
Trung Uy = First Lieutenant ("Intermediate Grade Junior Officer")
Truong Bay = Airfield
Truong Ha Si Quan = NCO Academy
Truong Khong Quan = Flight School
Truong Ky Thuat = Tech Center
Truong Quan Bao = Military Intelligence School
Truong Quan Cu = Ordnance School
Truong Quan Nhu = Quartermaster School
Truong Quan Y = Army Medical School
Truong Sinh Ngu Qhan Doi = Armed Forces Language School
Truong Sinh Vien Si Quan = Officer Candidates School
Truong Thieu Sinh Quan = Junior Military School / "Children's Army School"
Truong Vo Bi Quoc Gia Viet Nam (TVB/QG/VN) = Vietnam National Military Acadamy  photo
Tuan Tham = Patrol
Tuan Tieu Chien Dau = Combat Patrol
Tuan Zuong Ham = Ocean Patrol Ship
Tu Binh = Prisoner
Tu Lenh = Commander
Tu Tran = Killed in Action
Tuan Duong Ham (TDH) = Ocean Patrol Ship
Tuan Tham (TT) = Patrol
Van Chuyen = Transportation
Vi Chi Huy = Commander
Vien Tham = Long-Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP)  photo
Vo Tuyen = Radio Man
Vung = Zone or Corps
Vung I Chien Thuat = Military Strategic Region 1
Vung (1-5) Duyen Hai = Naval Coastal Zone (1-5)
Vung (3 or 4) Song Ngoi = 3rd/4th Riverine Zone
VBQG = National Military Acadamy
Xa Thu = Gunner
Xa Thu Lien Thanh = Machine Gunner
Xung Kich = Strike Force
Xung Phong = Assault

Republic of Viet-Nam Armed Forces Mottos, Slogans and Mascots:

ARVN Infantry:

Bac Long = White Dragon (3rd Battalion, 11th Infantry Regiment)
Hac Bao = Black Panther (1st Division)
Hac Long = Black dragon (11th Infantry Regiment Recon Company)
Hai Su = Sea Master (4th Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment)
Kim Long = Yellow Dragon (2nd Battalion, 11th Infantry Regiment)
Manh Ho = Ferocious Tiger (1st Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment)
O Den = Black Black Eagle (1st Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment)
Quyet Thang = Resolved to Win (12th Infantry Regiment)
Thanh Sa = Sacred Snake (3rd Infantry Division)
Xich Long = Red Dragon (2nd and 4th Battalion, 11th Infantry Regiment)


Cam-Tu = Suicide (6th Battalion Slogan)
Danh-Du To Quoc = Honor & Country (TQLC motto, like "Semper Fi" in US Marine Corps)
Hac Long = Black Dragon (5th Battalion Mascot)  photo
Hum Xam = Killer Tiger (7th Battalion Mascot)
Huu-Hien & Chian Thang = Efficiency & Victory (Transportation Battalion Motto)
Kinh Ngu = Killer Sharks (4th Battalion Mascot)
Loi-Hoa = Lightning Fire (1st Artillery Battalion Motto)
Manh-Ho = Strong Tiger (9th Battalion Mascot)
No-Than = Sacred Bo (3rd Artillery Battalion Motto)
O-Bien = Sea Hawk (8th Battalion Mascot)
Quan Dieu = Monster Bird (1st Battalion Mascot)
Soi Bien = Sea Wolf (3rd Battalion Mascot)
Than-Tien = Sacred Arrow (2nd Artillery Battalion Motto)
Than-Ung = Sacred Bird (6th Battalion Mascot)
Trau Dien = Crazy Buffalo (2nd Battalion Mascot)
Truyen Song = Tidal Wave (Signal Battalion)


Hai Kich = Frogman Motto
Than Tien = Sacred Arrow (LSIL HQ331)
Thang Khong Kieu, Bai Khong Nan = "Not Arrogant When Winning, Not Discouraged When Losing" (River Mine Sweeper Group 93)
Vuot Song Ngan Thu = Across Waves to Stop Enemies (HQ613)

Special Forces:

Danh Du-Dung Cam = Honor and Gallantry (77th Special Forces Battalion)
Danh Du To Quoc = Honor Nation (Technical Directorate)
Loi Ho = Lightning Tiger (Recon Team Loi Ho)
Loi Vu = Lightning Force (81st Battalion)
Queyet Tu = Ready to Die (unknown unit)
Tham Tu = Suicide (Exploitation Force)
Than Ho = Sacred Tiger (81st Group Strike Company)
Xich Quy = Phantom (81st Group Intelligence Unit)

North Viet-Nam / Socialist Republic of Viet-Nam Military Terms:
The following terms are predominately or exclusively associated with Communist Vietnamese military forces.

Bao Dam = Secured or Warranted (Viet Cong)
Bao Ve = Military Security (Dept. of PAVN General Political Directorate)
Bao Ve Bien Cuong = Frontier Guards
Binh Nhi = Private
Binh Nhat = Private First Class
Bo Doi = Army / Service Men
Bo Doi Bien-Phong = Border Defense Force
Bo Doi Xe Tang = Tank Driver
Bo Quoc Phong = Ministry of National Defence
Bo Thuong Binh va Xa Hoi = Ministry of War Invalids (& Social Welfare)
Bo Tong Tham-Muu = People's Army of Viet-Nam (PAVN) General Staff
Bo Tu-Lenh Quan-Khu = Military Region
Can Bo = Cadre / Officer
Can Bo Nam Vung = Undercover Agent
Chien Si = Soldier; Combatant
Chien-Truong Mien Bac = Northern Theater
Chuan Uy = Third Lieutenant, Aspirant
Cuc Lien-Lac Doi-Ngoai Bo Quoc-Phong = Minister Defense External Relations Dept.
Dai Ta = Senior Colonel (Considered to be of General Rank)
Dai Tuong = Senior General (Highest Rank - 4 Stars)
Dai Uy = Captain
Dai Uy Xe Tang = Captain, Armour
Dia Phuong = Local / Region
Dia Phuong Quan = Provincial / Regional Forces
Di Xem = Examined
Doan Thanh-Nien Xung-Phong = Youth "Rush to the Front" Organization
Don Vi Dan Quan Tu-Ve Huyen = District Militia
Ha Si = Corporal
Ho Dong Quoc Phong = National Defense Council
Hom Thu (HT) = Military Mail Box Number (unit)
Hop Thu = Mail Box Number (individual)
Khoi Nghia = General Uprising
Kiem Duyet = Censored or Examined
Kin (K) = Secret/Confidential Mail
Linh Chien Xa = Tankman
Linh Thuy Danh Bo = Marines
Luc Luong = Force
Luc Luong Nhan Dan Tu Ve = Village Forces
Nam Vung Thoi-Co = "To Sieze the Opportunity"
Quan = Army / Force
Quan Dan Nhat Tri = Unity of Mind - People and Army
Quan Doi Dang Lanh-Dao = Party-led Army
Quan Doi Giai Phong = National Liberation Front (NLF) Army
Quan-Doi Nhan-Dan = People's Army of Viet-Nam (PAVN)
Quan Giai Phong = Army of Liberation
Quan Khu = Military Region
Quan Phuc Vien = Demobilized Soldier
Quan-Uy Truong-Uong Dang = Central Military Party Committee
Rung Sat (R) = Jungle, e.g. HT 9R
San Bat Cuop = Bandit Hunters (Anti-Draft Dodger Unit)
Tan Binh = Recruit
Tem Binh Si = Postage Free
Tem Noi Bo = Internal Usage
Thieu Ta = Major
Thieu Tuong = Major General (1 Star)
Thieu Uy = Second Lieutenant
Thu Chien = Liberation Fighter
Thu Gui Nao Nam = "Somewhere in the South"
Thuong Ta = Rank Between Lieutenant Colonel and Colonel
Thuong Tuong = Colonel General (Rank Between Lieutenant General and Senior General - 3 Stars)
Thuong Uy = Rank Between First Lieutenant and Captain
Toa An Quan Su = Military Court
Toa An Qua Su Dac Biet = Special Military Tribunal
To-Dang = Party Cell
Tong Cuc Hau Can = Rear Services Directorate
To-Truong = Party Cell Leader
Trai Giao Hoa = Re-Education Center
Trung Si = Sergeant
Trung Ta = Lieutentant Colonel
Trung Tuong = Lieutenant General (2 Stars)
Trung Uy = First Lieutenant
Tu-Lenh = Militry Commander
Xoi Mon = "To Miss the Opportunity"

* According to Mr. Toan Nguyen, when Bao Dai first established the South Vietnamese Army the shoulder patch insignia of the French Army was still used (2nd Lieutenant = one straight bar, 1st Lieutenant = two straight bars, etc.). People wearing these insignia were called Ong Mot (Mr. One), Ong Hai (Mr. Two)...

Anyone who worked for the government was called Quan. In the Army, Quan Mot became 2nd Lieutenant, Quan Hai 1st Lieutenant and so forth. These names were used only prior to 1955. After than President Diem reorganized the SVN army and created new ranks used through 1975. These ranks had new insignia, for example Thieu Uy, or 2nd Lieutenant, was represented by one gold flower.


"The Army of the Republic of Vietnam: Postal Operations and Military Mails"
Robert G. Munshower Jr. and Tung Bao Nguyen
The Indo-china Philatelist issue 137, pp. 13-24

"Glossary of Naval Terms and Abbreviations"
Joe Cartafalsa
The Indo-china Philatelist issue 138, pp. 42-43

"Vietnamese Marine Corps"
Joe Cartafalsa
The Indo-china Philatelist issue 140, pp. 1-4

"An Introduction to the Military Mail of South Viet-Nam"
Joe Cartafalsa
The Congress Book 2000 pp. 71-92

"PAVN - People's Army of Vietnam"
Douglas Pike
1986 Da Capo / Presidio Press 1986 pp. 326-329

"Vietnamese Phrase Book - 1962"
Department of the Army Pamphlet No. 20-611

"Uniforms and Insignia of the Republic of Vietnam"
Gary Murtha, 1999

"Elite Series - The NVA and Viet Cong"
Ken Conboy, Ken Bowra, Simon McCouaig
Osprey Military Books, 1998

"Insignia of the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces" (Parts I-V)
Cecil B. Smyth, Jr., 1986

"Special Forces in Southeast Asia"
Cecil B. Smyth, Jr., 1978

"Flying Dragons - South Vietnamese Air Force"
Robert Mikesh, 1988, Osprey Publishing / Motorbooks

"Street Without Joy"
Bernard Fall, 1961, 1963, 1964 and 1994, Stackpole Books

"TEM Buu Chinh Viet Nam 1945-1996" (Vietnam Postage Stamp Catalog)
Cotevina - Vietnam Stamp Company, Hanoi, 1997

"Viet-Anh / Anh Viet Tu Dien" (Vietnamese-English / English Vietnamese Dictionary)
Nguyen Van Khon - Khai Tri, January 1967, Saigon


Special thanks to Mr. Toan Nguyen for his assistance with the translations and helping everything make sense. Vinh Nguyen has provided assistance with may Vietnamese translations and historical context. Thanks also to Trung do for provide corrections and additions.

To learn more about Vietnamese military covers and other items related to the stamps and postal history of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, I encourage you to become a member of the Society of Indo-china Philatelists.

Please contact me at with comments, corrections or additions.

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