This Happened — February 1: The Saigon Execution
On this day in 1968, Nguyễn Văn Lém, a member of the Viet Cong, was summarily executed for alleged war crimes in Saigon during the Vietnam War. An Associated Press photographer captured the execution in one of the most iconic images in war reporting history.
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Who witnessed the execution of Nguyễn Văn Lém?
When Nguyễn Văn Lém, a member of the Viet Cong, was summarily executed for alleged war crimes in Saigon during the Vietnam War, Võ Sửu, a cameraman for the U.S. TV network NBC, and Eddie Adams, an Associated Press photographer were there to witness and capture the event.
How did Eddie Adams photograph the execution?
Adams has said that at the time, he believed that Brigadier General Nguyễn Ngọc Loan, Chief of the Republic of Vietnam National Police, was just going to threaten Lém, and took out his camera to record the event. The photograph he captured showed the moment the bullet entered Lém's head.
What happened to the Saigon execution photograph?
After being shared worldwide, the photograph electrified the anti-war movement in the United States. The photograph became famous in contemporary American journalism, and won Adams the 1969 Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography.