The Terror of War
1973 Pulitzer Prize, Spot News Photography, Huynh Cong "Nick" Út, Associated Press
It rails from the sky, a thick, caustic gel, sticking to anything it touches — thatched roofs, bare skin — then burning, burning. Napalm: Everyone who is in Vietnam during the war sees it. For
Nick Ut, a young Vietnamese photographer working for The Associated Press, the experience is life-altering.
Ut has lost his older brother to the war. He himself has been wounded three times. On June 8, 1972, he sets out to cover a battle raging near Trang Bang, 25 miles west of Saigon. "Really heavy fighting." he says. "I shot Vietnamese bombing all morning, the rockets and mortar." Determined to eliminate an entrenched Viet Cong unit. South Vietnamese planes dive low, dropping napalm. But one plane misses. Fire rains down on South Vietnamese soldiers and civilians. Women and children rim screaming. A mother carries a badly burned child. "The one mother with the baby, she died right in my camera. I hear four or five children screaming, Please help! Please help!"
As Ut furiously snaps photographs, a young girl runs toward him — arms outstretched, eyes clenched in pain, clothes burned off by napalm. "She said. 'Too hot, please help me.' I say yes,’ and take her to the hospital."
The girl. Phan Thi Kim Phuc, survives. She grows up, gets married. Through the years, she and Ut stay in touch, brought together by a moment of tragedy.