#AtoZ 1968 – “E” is for Execution (Viet Cong)

“You’re going to get a concept that maybe this really is one world and why the hell can’t we learn to live together like decent people.” ~ Astronaut Frank Borman, on seeing the entire earth from outer space as he and the crew of the Apollo 8 returned from orbiting the moon.

photograph by Eddie Adams/Associated Press

If there was ever a photo that brought the brutality of war onto the front page of a newspaper, this was it.

In this photo, Brigadier General Nguyễn Ngoc Loan, the police chief of South Vietnam, walks up to a prisoner, Nguyễn Văn Lém, and fires a bullet into his head. In the middle of the street.

Nguyễn Văn Lém was a member of the Viet Cong and was responsible for killing the wife and six children of a South Vietnamese military officer. He admitted that he was proud  to carry out his unit leader’s order to kill. Adams’s photograph was broadcast worldwide, and helped to galvanize the anti-war movement. Eddie Adams won a 1969 Pulitzer Prize for his photograph.

A to Z badge 2


Here’s the #78 song on Billboard’s Year-End Top 100 Singles of 1968

“Revolution” by The Beatles

20 thoughts on “#AtoZ 1968 – “E” is for Execution (Viet Cong)

  1. One of many amazing photographs from the Vietnam war. Photojournalism was at its peak then, unlike today when they go about chasing celebrities instead. Did you see the Vietnam War documentary series last year? – a marvellous bit of television about such a dark time.


  2. How sad and disturbing-both the photograph and the background story. It shows how cruel war can be. Neither side is blameless, and there are no winners. Even sadder that we don’t seem to have learned much from the past.


  3. See this photograph again alongside the Beatles’ powerful song collapse the past fifty years, if only for a few moments.
    The executioner’s cool and calm as he aims the gun are shattering.


  4. Over the years my feelings about the war have changed as I have learned more and more about it. I managed to watch all of Ken Burns documentary and it was all hard to watch and relive what happened.


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