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Vietnam War

Nick Ut’s 1972 image of a naked girl fleeing her napalmed village.

Kim Phuc running from a Napalm attack is a memorable picture vividly depicting the art of war.

Vietnam War By Nick Ut's

Photographer Huynh Cong Ut, known by his colleagues as Nick, was working there as a photo journalist for Associated Press at the time and took a number of photographs of the villagers trying to escape the napalm.

Kim Phúc and her family were residents of the village of Trang Bang, South Vietnam. On June 8, 1972, South Vietnamese planes, in coordination with the American military, dropped a napalm bomb on Trang Bang, which had been attacked and occupied by North Vietnamese forces. Phúc joined a group of civilians and South Vietnamese soldiers heading for the safety of South Vietnamese–held positions.

A South Vietnamese Air Force pilot mistook the group for enemy soldiers and diverted to attack. The bombing killed two of Phúc’s cousins and two other villagers.

Associated Press photographer Nick Út earned a Pulitzer Prize for his photograph of the aftermath. It also was chosen as the World Press Photo of the Year for 1972.

The image of Phúc running naked amid the chaos became one of the most haunting images of the Vietnam War. In an interview many years later, she recalled she was yelling, “Nóng quá, nóng quá” (“too hot, too hot”) in the picture.

" To hot, To hot "

After snapping the photograph, Nick Út took Kim Phúc and the other injured children to Barsky Hospital in Saigon, where it was determined that her burns were so severe that she probably would not survive.After a 14-month hospital stay and 17 surgical procedures, she was able to return home. Nick Út continued to visit her until he was evacuated during the fall of Saigon, three years later.

Audio tapes of then-president Richard Nixon, in conversation with his chief of staff, H. R. Haldeman, reveal that Nixon doubted the authenticity of the photograph, thinking it might have been “fixed “.

After the release of this tape, Nick Út commented:

“Even though it has become one of the most memorable images of the twentieth century, President Nixon once doubted the authenticity of my photograph when he saw it in the papers on 12 June 1972…. The picture for me and unquestionably for many others could not have been more real. The photo was as authentic as the Vietnam war itself. The horror of the Vietnam war recorded by me did not have to be fixed. That terrified little girl is still alive today and has become an eloquent testimony to the authenticity of that photo. That moment thirty years ago will be one Kim Phúc and I will never forget. It has ultimately changed both our lives”.

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