Napalm Attack

I have already covered this event before, and Nick Ut’s photo I posted back then was the definitive photo of the event. However, I just recently came across other photos in the series and became instantly intrigued. Although they were not seen in the most famous photo, there are other photographers in the background trying to take the picture (one of them was David Burnett, who missed the famous scene because he was changing his film).

The photographers were of course to cover the Battle of Trang Bang. The first photo, in all its hazy demonic fire, showed the moment when napalm bombs were fired. The second photo was the shot. The third photo was taken moments after, as you can see by the distance from the billboards on the right. The crying girl had stopped crying; two children running together had sort of split up and veered to the left while the little kid at the back was now wayback, having either stopped running or turned back. The runners either overtook the photographers, or the photgraphers arrived from the righthand side, where there is a big commotion.

In the last photo, there was ITN reporter Christopher Wain who captured the scene on video.

Napalm Attack


In 1972, this picture of a nine-year-old girl, Kim Phuc, fleeing her village after a napalm attack brought the Vietnam War home to many. Although the picture was initially scoffed for having a naked girl at its centre, the shocking nature of napalm attacks silenced the prudes. The picture was so revealing in the nature that President Nixon accused its photographer of staging the photo.

Behind the girl, one can observe all the South Vietnamese armies running with Kim, other members of her family including her younger brother, who looked back into the black smoke. The Vietnamese photographer Nick Ut had been just outside the village when two planes dropped four napalm bombs. He heard the cries, and “I want some water, I’m too hot, too hot,” – in Vietnamese, “Nong qua, nong qua!”

Nick snapped this picture, and afterwards gave her some water, and took her to the hospital. The New York Times, where the photo editors were relieved that the girl was too young to have pubic hair (that would have required a retouching), decided to put the photo on the front page

Nick won a Pulitzer and the World Press Photo of the Year for this photo. Kim Phu herself would toured the world inciting numerous political controversies: she became the star of numerous humanitarian events and anti-war campaigns and also the hero of a bestselling book Girl in the Picture.