Execution of Nguyễn Văn Lém

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Nguyễn Văn Lém
Execution of Nguyễn Văn Lém.jpg
General Nguyễn Ngọc Loan summarily executes Nguyễn Văn Lém.
Born c. 1931
Died 1 February 1968 (aged 36)
Republic of Vietnam
Allegiance FNL Flag.svg Viet Cong
Rank Captain
Spouse(s) Nguyễn Thị Lộp

Nguyễn Văn Lém (Vietnamese: [ŋʷǐənˀ vān lɛ̌m]; 1931 or 1932 – 1 February 1968), often referred to as Bảy Lốp was summarily executed in Saigon, during the Vietnam War. Lem was a Viet Cong member captured during the early part of the Tet Offensive, where Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces forces launched a massive surprise attack.

He was brought to Brigadier General Nguyễn Ngọc Loan who then executed him. The event was witnessed and recorded by Võ Sửu, a cameraman for NBC, and Eddie Adams, an Associated Press photographer. The photo and film became two famous images in contemporary American journalism.[1]


Nguyễn Văn Lém was a Viet Cong officer or Captain and was known by the code name "Bảy Lốp". His wife, Nguyen Thi Lop, explains that his code name consisted of "Bảy" for seventh son, and "Lốp" from her own name.[2]


Lém was captured on Feb 1st 1968 during the Tet offensive.[3] He was brought to Brigadier General Nguyễn Ngọc Loan, Chief of the Republic of Vietnam National Police on Lý Thái Tổ street (10°45′54″N 106°40′48″E / 10.765°N 106.68°E / 10.765; 106.68).[4] General Loan summarily executed Lém using his (Loan's) sidearm, a .38 Special Smith & Wesson Bodyguard revolver.[5] Lem was 36 years old at the time of his death.[2]

Witnessing the event was Associated Press photographer Eddie Adams and NBC News television cameraman Vo Suu.[6]


The photograph and footage were broadcast worldwide, galvanizing the anti-war movement.[7] Adams' photo of the event won him the 1969 Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography.[8]

Lem's wife, Lop, did not learn about her husband's death until she was given a newspaper with the photo on the front page.[9]

In 1975, Nguyễn Ngọc Loan fled South Vietnam during the Fall of Saigon, moving eventually to the United States.[10] Pressure from congress resulted in a Library of Congress investigation of Loan.[11] In 1978, the INS contended that Loan had committed a war crime, following a report by the Library of Congress which concluded that the summary execution of Nguyễn Văn Lém had been illegal under Vietnamese law.[12] This would have resulted in his permanent resident status being revoked and preventing him from becoming a United States citizen. United States President Jimmy Carter personally intervened by halting the process, "such historical revisionism was folly" and allowed Loan to stay.[13][14] Loan died on 14 July 1998 in Burke, Virginia, at age 67.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Nguyen Ngoc Loan, 67, Dies; Executed Viet Cong Prisoner". The New York Times. 16 July 1998. Retrieved 5 July 2009. 
  2. ^ a b "Unforgettable". people.com. Retrieved 2018-07-05. 
  3. ^ News, ABC. "Stunning AP Images of Vietnam War from Stunning Images of Vietnam War". ABC News. Retrieved 2018-07-05. 
  4. ^ "Nguyen Ngoc Loan, 67, Dies; Executed Viet Cong Prisoner". The New York Times. 1998-07-16. Retrieved 2009-05-07. 
  5. ^ Buckley, Tom. "Portrait of an Aging Despot", Harper's magazine April 1972, Page 69
  6. ^ Rubin, Cyma; Newton, Eric (eds.). The Pulitzer Prize Photographs. Newseum Inc. ISBN 978-0-9799521-3-5. 
  7. ^ "The Vietnam War, Through Eddie Adams' Lens". NPR.org. Retrieved 2018-07-05. 
  8. ^ "Pulitzer Prize Winners". www.pulitzer.org. Retrieved 2018-07-05. 
  9. ^ "Vietnam: Vietnam War Anniversary: Media (2) | AP Archive". www.aparchive.com. Retrieved 2018-07-05. 
  10. ^ Barnes, Bart (1998-07-16). "NGUYEN NGOC LOAN DIES AT 67". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2018-07-09. 
  11. ^ Dickey, Christopher (1978-11-03). "U.S. Acts to Deport Saigon Official Who Killed Bound Prisoner in 1968". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2018-07-09. 
  12. ^ Christopher Dickey (November 3, 1978). "U.S. Acts to Deport Saigon Official Who Killed Bound Prisoner in 1968". Washington Post. Retrieved July 3, 2018. The INS now contents in a legal proceeding against Loan that he should have been tried in Vietnam for the execution, a war crime, and that his permanent resident status should be rescinded on the grounds of "moral turpitude." ... But Sawyer said that he also then requested the Library of Congress to research the issue. The results of the library's report, which concluded that summary execution of such nature were illegal under Vietnamese law at the time, were forwarded to INS last spring. 
  13. ^ "Carter bids to halt Viet general's deportation". The Miami News. 6 December 1978. p. 9C. Retrieved 9 July 2018 – via Newspapers.com. (Subscription required (help)). 
  14. ^ "Viet executioner won't be deported". Detroit Free Press. New York Times Service. 2 December 1978. p. 2A. Retrieved 9 July 2018 – via Newspapers.com. (Subscription required (help)). 

External links[edit]