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Napalm Girl

50 Years Later

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About the event

Nick Ut will join another legendary photographer of the Vietnam War, David Hume Kennerly, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1972, acclaimed war photographer James Nachtwey, and AP photographer Maye-E Wong for a discussion about war and photography.

The iconic photo’s subject Phan Thi Kim Phuc will be a special guest and the discussion will include photographs selected by each photographer. Moderated by David Friend.

On June 8, 1972, Nick Ut, then a 20-year-old photographer for the Associated Press, strapped on four cameras – two Nikons and two Leicas – and headed out on Highway 1, north of Saigon. Just after noon he noticed a South Vietnamese Skyraider drop four napalm bombs. Villagers scattered and he heard a young girl screaming, “Nong qua! Nong qua! – Too hot! Too hot!” He looked through his viewfinder and saw that the girl – a nine-year-old Phan Thi Kim Phuc – had pulled off her burning clothes and was running naked down the street.

“The Napalm Girl,” as the photograph quickly became known, appeared in newspapers around the world, including A1 in the New York Times on June 9th. It became, almost immediately, an iconic image that for many symbolized the failures of the war in Vietnam. Nick Ut won a Pulitzer Prize for photography in 1973. Today, the photograph speaks to the horror of war overall, and connects viscerally to the images of civilian casualties coming out of Ukraine.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Nick Ut

South Vietnamese forces follow after terrified children, including 9-year-old Kim Phuc, center, as they run down Route 1 near Trang Bang after an aerial napalm attack on suspected Viet Cong hiding places on June 8, 1972. A South Vietnamese plane accidentally dropped its flaming napalm on South Vietnamese troops and civilians. The terrified girl had ripped off her burning clothes while fleeing. The children from left to right are: Phan Thanh Tam, younger brother of Kim Phuc, who lost an eye, Phan Thanh Phouc, youngest brother of Kim Phuc, Kim Phuc, and Kim’s cousins Ho Van Bon, and Ho Thi Ting. Behind them are soldiers of the Vietnam Army 25th Division.

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