This photo was shown on the Ken Burns Vietnam documentary without discussion. This was one of the powerful photos from Vietnam, showing a South Vietnamese General executing a Viet Cong. The back story from Wikapedia below:
General Nguyen Ngoc Loan Executing a Viet Cong Prisoner in Saigon is a photograph taken by Eddie Adams on 1 February 1968. It shows South Vietnamese National Police Chief Nguyễn Ngọc Loan executing a Việt Cộng captain of an insurgent team Nguyễn Văn Lém (referred to as Captain Bảy Lốp), in Saigon during the Tet Offensive.
Around 4:30 A.M., Lém led a sabotage unit along with Viet Cong tanks to attack the Armor Camp in Go Vap. After communist troops took control of the base, Lém arrested Lieutenant Colonel Nguyen Tuan with his family and forced him to show them how to drive tanks. When Lieutenant Colonel Tuan refused to cooperate, Lém killed Tuan, his wife and six children and his 80-year-old mother by cutting their throats. There was only one survivor, a seriously injured 10-year-old boy.
Lém was captured near a mass grave with 34 civilian bodies. Lém admitted that he was proud to carry out his unit leader's order to kill these people. Having personally witnessed the murder of one of his officers along with that man's wife and three small children in cold blood, when Lém was captured and brought to him, General Loan summarily executed him using his sidearm, a .38 Special Smith & Wesson Model 38 "Bodyguard" revolver, in front of AP photographer Eddie Adams and NBC News television cameraman Võ Sửu. The photograph and footage were broadcast worldwide, galvanizing the anti-war movement.
The photo won Adams the 1969 Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography, though he later regretted its effect. The image became an anti-war icon. Concerning Loan and his famous photograph, Adams wrote in Time:
- The general killed the Viet Cong; I killed the general with my camera. Still photographs are the most powerful weapon in the world. People believe them, but photographs do lie, even without manipulation. They are only half-truths. What the photograph didn't say was, "What would you do if you were the general at that time and place on that hot day, and you caught the so-called bad guy after he blew away one, two or three American soldiers?"
Adams later apologized in person to General Nguyễn and his family for the damage it did to his reputation. When Loan died of cancer in Virginia, Adams praised him: "The guy was a hero. America should be crying. I just hate to see him go this way, without people knowing anything about him."
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