Steven Lewis Simpson

Nick Ut taker of the Napalm Girl photo in Vietnam – A pure honor to shake his hand

I’ve been fortunate to meet some extraordinary people in this world and some who have shaped history or our art or culture and have even gotten to call one or two my friend but there was one gentleman that I met recently through a dear friend and with whom we had dinner with that it was a pure honor even just to shake his hand and it was Nick Ut.

in 1972 when he was just 19 and working for the Associated Press he took one of the two most famous and staggeringly important images of the Vietnam, the photo of Kim Phuc the young girl who was running from a village naked covered in burns from a US napalm strike on a village.

After taking the photos Nick scooped up the girl and took her to the hospital. To this day they are close and she has become a powerful campaigner for peace and forgiveness.

The following interesting comment about Nixon and the photo is listed on Wikipedia
Audio tapes of then-president Richard Nixon in conversation with his chief of staff, H. R. Haldeman, show that Nixon doubted the veracity of the photograph, musing whether it may have been “fixed.”[3] Following the release of this tape, Ut 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 June 12, 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 Phuc and I will never forget. It has ultimately changed both our lives” ”

— Nick Ut[4]

Another great quote is
“ …an editor at the AP rejected the photo of Kim Phuc running down the road without clothing because it showed frontal nudity. Pictures of nudes of all ages and sexes, and especially frontal views were an absolute no-no at the Associated Press in 1972…Horst argued by telex with the New York head-office that an exception must be made, with the compromise that no close-up of the girl Kim Phuc alone would be transmitted. The New York photo editor, Hal Buell, agreed that the news value of the photograph overrode any reservations about nudity. ”

— Nick Ut[2

He seemed a very sweet guy when we had dinner but it was a great honor just to shake the hand of someone who truly helped shape history for the better.

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126 thoughts on “Nick Ut taker of the Napalm Girl photo in Vietnam – A pure honor to shake his hand

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    Wonderful story. It truly was the most memorable shot from the Vietnam War, along with the equally horrific shot of the Viet Cong soldier being executed in the street at point-blank range.

    Thanks for all of the info on the shot as well. Inspirational!

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    Yeah in a world of so much media fluff it’s great to be able to connect with those operating at a different level.

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