Kennedy to Kent State: Images of a Generation


Eddie Adams, American, 1933-2004
The Associated Press

Brigadier General Nguyen Ngoc Loan Executing the Viet Cong Guerilla, Bay Lop, 1968
Gelatin silver print

Gift of Howard G. Davis, III A.K.A. David Davis, 2011.125

In this Pulitzer Prize winning photograph, police officer Nguyen Ngoc Loan summarily executes Nguen Van Lem (nomme de guerre Bay Lop) after Lop evidently murdered a South Vietnamese colonel and seven of his family members.  Because Adams and an NBC camera crew were present, Loan felt it necessary to respond immediately to Lop’s act saying, “[In war] if you hesitate, if you didn’t do your duty, the men won’t follow you.”  The photograph forever altered Loan’s life, branding him a savage in a war already beleaguered with images of gratuitous violence.  Adams maintained regret having ever taken the photograph, asking, “How do you know you wouldn't have pulled the trigger yourself?”

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