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In this Vietnamese name, the family name is Nguyễn, but is often simplified to Nguyen in English-language text. According to Vietnamese custom, this person should properly be referred to by the given name Lém.
General Nguyễn Ngọc Loan summarily executes Nguyễn Văn Lém.

Nguyễn Văn Lém (referred to as Captain Bảy Lốp) (died 1 February 1968 in Saigon) was a member of the Viet Cong who was summarily executed in Saigon during the Tet Offensive. The execution was captured on film by photojournalist Eddie Adams, and the momentous image became a symbol of the hostility of war. The execution was explained at the time as being the consequence of Lém's suspected guerrilla activity and war crimes, and otherwise due to a general "wartime mentality."

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Biography

On the second day of Tet, amid fierce street fighting, Lém was captured and brought to Brigadier General Nguyễn Ngọc Loan, then Chief of the Republic of Viet Nam National Police. Using his personal sidearm, General Loan summarily executed Lém in front of AP photographer Eddie Adams and NBC television cameraman Vo Suu.[1] The photograph and footage were broadcast worldwide, galvanizing the anti-war movement; Adams won a 1969 Pulitzer Prize for his photograph.

South Vietnamese sources said that Lém commanded a Viet Cong assassination and revenge platoon, which on that day had targeted South Vietnamese National Police officers, or in their stead, the police officers' families. Photographer Adams confirmed the South Vietnamese account, although he was only present for the execution. Lém's widow confirmed that her husband was a member of the Viet Cong and she did not see him after the Tet Offensive began. Shortly after the execution, a South Vietnamese official who had not been present said that Lém was only a political operative.

Though military lawyers have yet to definitively decide whether Loan's action violated the Geneva Conventions for treatment of prisoners of war (Lém had not been wearing a uniform; nor was he, it is alleged, fighting enemy soldiers at the time), where POW status was granted independently of the laws of war it was limited to Viet Cong seized during military operations[2].

See also

References

  1. ^ "Nguyen Ngoc Loan, 67, Dies; Executed Viet Cong Prisoner". New York Times. July 16, 1998. http://www.nytimes.com/1998/07/16/world/nguyen-ngoc-loan-67-dies-executed-viet-cong-prisoner.html. Retrieved 2009-05-07. "But when Brig. Gen. Nguyen Ngoc Loan raised his pistol on Feb. 1, 1968, extended his arm and fired a bullet through the head of the prisoner, who stood with his hands tied behind his back, the general did so in full view of an NBC cameraman and an Associated Press photographer."  
  2. ^ Major General George S. Prugh (1975). "Prisoners of War and War Crimes". Vietnam Studies: Law at War: Vietnam 1964-1973. US Army Center of Military History. http://www.army.mil/cmh-pg/books/vietnam/law-war/law-04.htm. Retrieved 2006-10-24.  

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