News.com.au Posted Tues., Jan.30, 2018
THIS haunting pic (above) of a handcuffed prisoner seconds before his death changed the way the world saw the Vietnam War. Now the story behind it is out. IT WAS a fraction of a second that jolted Americans’ view of the Vietnam War.
In a Saigon street, South Vietnam’s police chief raised a gun to the head of a handcuffed Vietcong prisoner and abruptly pulled the trigger. A few feet away, Associated Press photographer Eddie Adams pressed his shutter.
Taken 50 years ago, on February 1, 1968, during the North’s surprise Tet Offensive, Adams’ photo showed the war’s brutality in a way the American people hadn’t seen before.
Protesters saw the image as graphic evidence that the US was fighting on the side of an unjust South Vietnamese government.
“Pictures don’t tell the whole story,” he said later. “It doesn’t tell you why.” After 50 years, the Saigon execution remains one of the defining images of the war. Time magazine has declared it one of history’s 100 most influential photos.
“It still represents a lot of what photojournalists do, that idea of bearing witness to an important event,” said Keith Greenwood, a University of Missouri photojournalism-history professor. “There are ugly things that happen that need to be recorded and shared.”
It was the second day of the Tet Offensive. North Vietnamese forces and Vietcong guerillas had attacked South Vietnamese towns and cities, including the capital Saigon, during a holiday ceasefire.
Adams, a former Marine Corps Korean War photographer who joined the AP in 1962, and NBC cameraman Vo Suu had been checking out fighting in a Saigon neighbourhood when they saw South Vietnamese soldiers pulling a prisoner out of a building, towards the newsmen.
The soldiers stopped. Police chief Lt Colonel Nguyen Ngoc Loan walked up and lifted his pistol. Adams figured the chief planned a gunpoint interrogation.
Instead, Loan fired, and Adams’ photo froze the moment in time when prisoner Bay Lop faced death. Suu’s footage also captured the moment, in motion.
Loan told the two, “They killed many of my men and many of your people,” and walked away, Adams recalled in a 1998 interview for an AP oral history project.
At the AP’s New York headquarters, photography director Hal Buell saw the image emerging from the radio-based system used to transmit photos at the time. After some deliberation, he and other editors decided to distribute it worldwide.
“I knew when it went out that you were going to get two reactions. The doves were going to say, ‘See the kind of people we’re dealing with here (in South Vietnam)?’ And the hawks said, ‘It shouldn’t have been used — you guys gotta get on the team,”’ said Buell, now retired.
But, he said: “The image had an impact and its impact was felt by those people who were on the fences.”
The photo appeared on front pages, TV screens and protest placards. The Tet Offensive proved a military failure for the Communists, but it fuelled the American public’s pessimism and weariness about the war. It ended when the North prevailed in 1975.
Full article here: http://www.news.com.au/technology/gadgets/cameras/famous-war-photograph-haunted-the-man-behind-the-lens/news-story/1f12f5a222cce38cbd4b4ca42c8524b5