90-day wonder New 2nd lieutenant, owing to the 90-day Officer Candidate School (OCS).
NAFF Not Available For Fornication. A discriminating woman. Term originated in Britain and is derived from Naafi (Navy, Army, and Air Force Institutes). See ‘Naafi’, Part I.
name, rank, and cigarettes A reference to being taken prisoner by the
Germans. Prisoners of war were only required to give their ‘name, rank, and serial number’ to their captors. Date of birth was also required, but left out of the POW’s mantra. The ‘cigarettes’ referred to the common, tortuous practice of captors taking the POW’s smokes.
nervous in the service One uncomfortable with or experiencing
difficulties with service life, often while under heavy fire.
nest Small crew-served weapon position, e.g. machine gun nest.
New Guinea salute The jumpy practice of constantly waving one’s hand over the mess kit, chasing off flies.
new wrinkle New tactic, technique or equipment.
Nicaraguan onion/pineapple Tear-gas hand grenade, the term derived from
their use by the Marines in Nicaragua and other 1920–30s Banana Wars.
nighthawk Night patrol or guard duty, ‘owl’.
night maneuvers Date with a WAC, hopefully leading to ‘undercover operations’.
ninety 90mm M1, M1A1 and M2 anti-aircraft guns, which replaced 3in AA guns.
No-clap Medal Army Good Conduct Medal awarded for maintaining a clean record during a three-year enlistment. Contracting VD, never a good career move anyway, denied its award.
noncom Noncommissioned officer (NCO) – corporal through to master sergeant.
nookie or nookey Sex/intercourse. Also ‘poontang’ and ‘poon’.
Number 1 Gunner of a machine gun, mortar, anti-tank gun, etc. No. 2 was the assistant gunner (loader) and the rest of the crew were numbered in sequence, most of whom were ammunition bearers.
oak leaves Gold-coloured oak leaf insignia of a major, silver-coloured for a lieutenant colonel. Also ‘leaves’.
off-limits Civilian business establishment from which servicemen were barred owing to illegal, immoral or unfair practices carried out inside. Any restricted-access place or information.
OHIO The draft began in October 1940, and in the early summer of 1941 President Roosevelt asked Congress to extend the term of service beyond 12 months. Many soldiers drafted in October 1940 threatened to desert once their original
12 months had expired. OHIO was sometimes painted on barracks in protest – ‘Over the Hill
in October’ meant they intended to desert in October. Few actual desertions occurred when enlistment was extended six months.
OK Okay. Affirmative. ‘Everything is OK’. ‘He’s an OK guy’. OK quickly became a universal acknowledgement in US-occupied areas.
Okie or Oki Okinawa Island. ‘Okies’ – island inhabitants.
Old Army/Old Corps Pre-war Army or Marine Corps, before
conscription was introduced resulting in their massive expansion.
Old China hand Soldier or Marine with a long tour of duty in pre-war China. An experienced ‘old salt’.
old file Officer or NCO with long service, term owing to the worn and well-thumbed appearance of their personal record file folders.
Old Man Commanding officer, ‘Ol’ Man’, ‘CO’. The unit commander at any echelon, but most commonly referring to company and battalion commanders. Most were far from old. Rifle company commanders were in their mid-20s and battalion COs in their late 20s to early 30s.
one a-shootin’, ten a-lootin’ Referred to the ratio of combat troops to rear
one-five-five 155mm M1 and M1A1 howitzers, the standard divisional medium artillery, and the 155mm gun.
one-oh-five 105mm M2A1 howitzer, standard divisional light artillery piece. Also the ‘snub-nosed 105mm’.
one-percent loan Loan from one soldier to another – loan a dollar, get two back on payday.
one-star general Brigadier general. Also ‘shavetail general’, ‘gigadier breneral’ and ‘jigadier brindle’.
on the blink Defective, malfunctioning. Derived from electronic equipment with blinking lights.
on the carpet Ordered to appear before the commanding officer. ‘He’s in big trouble, been called on the carpet by the Ol’ Man’.
organized grab ass Calisthenics (pull-ups, sit ups, jumping jacks, etc.) by the numbers.
Oscar Dummies dropped by parachute as a deception for actual airborne operations.
outfit Military unit, a term with cowboy origins.
out of uniform Wearing the uniform improperly, with missing or mixed components, improper wear of insignia or decorations, etc.
overseas cap Garrison cap. Less restrained terms included ‘go-to-hell cap’ and ‘cunt cap’. For Marines, ‘piss-cutter’ and ‘fore-and-aft cap’.
overseas pay Sea or Foreign Shore Pay given to Marines, 20 percent over their base pay.
over the hill A soldier no longer ‘AWOL’, but one who has made the lifestyle decision not to come back. An AWOL soldier absent for over 30 days was declared a deserter.
over the hump Completing half of one’s enlistment or some assignment, and so past the hard part.