Photo by Nick Ut.

"Napalm Girl" Photographer Returns to Vietnam With an IPhone. This Is What He Found.

by Carlo Alcos Jun 8, 2015

43 YEARS ago a then 21-year-old Huynh Cong “Nick” Ut snapped what has become the iconic image of the Vietnam War (and one of history’s most famous photos) — the photo above of a young naked girl screaming and running from napalm being dropped from the air by South Vietnamese forces looking for Viet Cong insurgents. Nick won a Pullitzer Prize in 1973 and the image was named World Press Photo of the Year for 1972.

The 9-year-old girl in the photo — Kim Phúc — was one of the children that Nick helped. He used his press credentials to get them admitted to a hospital for aid. Kim’s burns were so severe it seemed unlikely she would survive — after a 14 month hospital stay that involved several skin transplants she was finally released and today lives in Canada.

In that era of technology, it took several hours for the photo to appear in the media, and not before a lot of debate over whether the nudity was too extreme for the front page. This is not the case today: Because of technology there’s been a large-scale democratization of media, and images are now shared within moments of being taken on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

This week Nick Ut returned to the small village of Trang Bang — the location of his original photos — with an iPhone in hand to capture some of his own war memories. He used the Associated Press’s Instagram account to post some of his images.


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