Girl in Famous Vietnam ‘Napalm’ Shot Speaks Out in California

By: E&P Staff

She was the central figure in one of the most famous news photos ever, but has always been reluctant to say much about it. But yesterday in a church in Newport Beach, Calif., Kim Phuc described that day, and showed her scars, with a blowup of the picture displayed behind her: a young, naked Vientamese girl running in terror from a U.S. napalm attack in 1972.

The photographer, Nick Ut of the Associated Press, was in the front row. He won a Pulitzer for the shot.

The scene is described today in an article in the Orange County Register by Greg Hardesty. Here is an excerpt.
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“I should have died,” Phuc (pronounced Fook) told rapt congregants at Liberty Baptist Church. “My skin should have burned off my body.”
She paused, then said in a sweet voice, “But I’m still beautiful, right?”
People applauded.

It has taken decades for Phuc, now 43, to arrive at the peaceful place she is today ? a journey she shares at churches and schools worldwide.
With Ut, a close friend, listening from the front row, Phuc recounted the events of June 8, 1972, and the lessons she has learned through years of depression, followed by a spiritual awakening.

“She should speak in Iraq,” said Kieu Loan Nguyen, 55, who attended the morning service specifically to hear Phuc’s story. “We all need to listen to her. We all need to heal.”

As the years passed, Phuc said she felt trapped as a pawn of the communist Vietnamese government, which used the famous picture for political purposes. “At one point, I did not want to live,” Phuc said….

At the end of her one-hour talk, Phuc urged people to look at the famous picture with new eyes. “Don’t see a little girl crying out in fear and pain,” Phuc said. “See her as crying out for peace.”

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