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Famous Vietnamese General Dies

July 15, 1998

SPRINGFIELD, Va. (AP) _ Nguyen Ngoc Loan, the South Vietnamese general whose summary execution of a bound prisoner was depicted in a photograph that stunned the world three decades ago, has died. He was 67.

Loan died Tuesday evening at his home in Burke, a suburb of Washington, D.C., after a battle with cancer, said his daughter, Nguyen Anh.

The photo of Loan aiming a pistol point-blank at the grimmacing prisoner’s head moments before the trigger was pulled on Feb. 1, 1968, became a grim and memorable image of the Vietnam War.

The photograph, by Eddie Adams, won a Pulitzer prize for The Associated Press. The shooting also was captured on movie film by another cameraman, Vo Suu.

At the time, Loan was head of South Vietnam’s national police. The North Vietnamese had begun the Tet Offensive, their big military push southward, the month before. Firefights had broken out all over Saigon and Loan’s police were trying to rid the South Vietnamese capital of Viet Cong guerrillas.

Shortly after Adams arrived and other newsmen arrived, Loan led the prisoner, whose hands were bound, onto a street corner, pulled his handgun and shot him in the head. The general told the newsmen that the prisoner was a known Viet Cong captain.

Gen. Loan fled South Vietnam in 1975, the year Communists overran the country, and moved to northern Virginia the same year. He opened a restaurant named Les Trois Continents in Dale City, Va., in the late ’70s.

Funeral arrangements were incomplete today.

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