Today is the 40th anniversary of the day Associated Press Photographer Nick Ut shot the Pulitzer Prize-winning Vietnam War photo of a naked little girl running down the road after a Napalm air strike burned through her clothes and skin, destroying her village and killing her loved-ones.
On the White House tapes, President Nixon blamed the photo for turning the tide of public opinion against the war. Perhaps no image so effectively brought home to the American people the agony inflicted on innocent people by the war.
The Associated Press has written a beautiful story detailing the moments surrounding the image and the lives of that little girl, Kim Phuc, now 49, and Ut, still an Associated Press photographer. Ut continues to tackle emotionally charged assignments, including services for the soldiers whose coffins are returned home to the Los Alamitos Joint Forces Training Base after they are killed in combat.
Twice in the last year Ut has photographed Hero Missions at the Los Alamitos base. Hero Missions are solemn ceremonies honoring the bodies of soldiers who died in combat as their coffins are returned to their families. Early this week Phuc spoke to an Newport Beach congregation about how that photo changed the course of her life.
Ut talks about the emotions of that day 40 years ago with the Associated Press:
"I cried when I saw her running," said Ut, whose older brother was killed on assignment with the AP in the southern Mekong Delta. "If I don't help her — if something happened and she died — I think I'd kill myself after that."
For the full story, click here.