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This Photo Only Tells Half The Story

Updated: Mar 7

Feb. 1, 1968 - AP Photo (Eddie Adams)

In this AP file photo, South Vietnamese Gen. Nguyen Ngoc Loan, fires his pistol into the head of suspected Viet Cong officer Nguyen Van Lem (also known as Bay Lop) on a Saigon street early in the Tet Offensive campaign, one of the largest of the Vietnam War which led to intense fighting in cities and towns across the South.

Eddie Adams’ photo made newspapers around the world in 1968. It became one of the most enduring images of the Vietnam War and fueled the anti-war movement across the United States, which viewed the photo as proof that the war was unjustified. But Adams’ photo only tells half the story.

Bay Lop was executed in Saigon on the second day of the Tet Offensive. He was captured after murdering South Vietnamese Lt. Col. Nguyen Tuan, along with the officer’s wife, mother, and six of his children. However, one of his children survived after being shot through the arm and thigh, with another bullet piercing his skull.

Nine-year-old Huan Nguyen stayed next to his mother for two hours after the murders. When night fell, he escaped the scene and avoided the communist guerrillas. His uncle, a South Vietnamese Air Force colonel, took the young boy under his wing. After the fall of Saigon in 1975, the officer and Nguyen escaped to the United States, along with an estimated 125,000 of their fellow countrymen and women.

U.S. Navy and Marine Corps troops took care of the family as they made their way through Guam with thousands of other refugees before being sponsored for relocation to the United States. U.S. Air Force Col. Ed Veiluva sponsored the family, who resettled in Oklahoma as political refugees.

By 1981, Nguyen earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Oklahoma State University. He later earned master’s degrees in electrical engineering, engineering, and information technology. In 1993, he received a direct commission in the U.S. Navy through the Reserve Engineering Duty Officer Program. Huan Nguyen was promoted to rear admiral in October 2019, at the time, the highest-ranking Vietnamese-born officer in the U.S. Navy.

“The images that I remember vividly when I arrived at Camp Asan, Guam (now Asan Beach Park) were of American sailors and Marines toiling in the hot sun, setting up tents and chow halls, distributing water and hot food, helping and caring for the people with dignity and respect.” Nguyen said, “I thought to myself how lucky I am to be in a place like America. Those sailors inspired me to later serve in the United States Navy.” - Adm. Huan Nguyen

Condensed & Edited From -"A Vietnam War Story" by Blake Stilwell, March 4, 2023 - (CherriesWriter.Com)

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Rear Adm. Huan Nguyen, 2019 Promotion Ceremony (U.S. Navy)

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Don, this is extraordinary. Of course I’ve seen the photo, several times over the years, but to know the actual story and the aftermath is astounding.

thank you for sharing it!

Will we see you on the 10th at the museum?

Donald Scanga
Donald Scanga
Jun 07, 2023
Replying to

No I am now scheduled to be in South Carolina. Currently have a presentation scheduled at the museum on the 24th but my wife booked my flight over it. So I need to contact Mike to get it rescheduled.

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