A South Vietnamese Soldier Punches A Suspected Member Of The Viet Cong, March 1965

May 21, 2021

This image, a colorized version of a photo originally taken by Eddie Adams in March 1965, shows a Vietnamese soldier punching a member of the Viet Cong. This, and other photos by Adams, captured the essence of the Vietnam War, and an unexpected moment. The photo, which shows the raw violence of the Vietnam War, did not become as well known or as incendiary as a photo Adams would take three years later. Both photos require an understanding of the full story, without which people rush to judgment.

Photo by Eddie Adams, colorized by Mads Madsen

In 1951, Eddie Adams joined the Marine Corps during the Korean War as a combat photographer. After the war, one of his assignments was to photograph the entire Demilitarized Zone after it was created as part of the Armistice Agreement of 1953 . He then covered the Vietnam War for the Associated Press. 

American Forces Began To Arrive

Source: (Internet Archive).

Since the 1950s, the U.S. had been providing South Vietnam with aid and advisors. Starting around 1964, President Johnson told the public that Vietnam would be pacified soon, as the resistance was weakening. This was not true. The Viet Cong guerillas were entrenched in villages throughout South Vietnam, operating in the shadows, and American intelligence struggled to measure its strength or the locations of its forces.