Trang Bang 8.6.72: Napalm
Phan Thi Kim Phuc


Associated Press

On June 8, 1972, children and their families fled the village of Trang Bang down Route-1, their bodies seared by napalm. The young girl screaming, in particular, was etched onto the world's mind by the photograph of Huynh Cong 'Nick' Ut, an AP photographer.

The girl was Phan Thi Kim Phuc.

The photograph showing excruciating pain and death has become a photographic icon, an antiwar rallying point and a symbol of hope. The photograph rightly stands among a few honorable and memorable images of the last 150 years of photojournalism.

The picture taken near the village of Trang Bang in South Vietnam on June 8, 1972, thrust the burned, screaming youngster into photographic history. The London "Observer" Sunday paper calls the photograph "the most haunting image of the horror of war since Goya" in their review of the exhibit (by science writer Deyan Sudjic).

Kim went on to survive although it took 14 months of painful rehabilitation to treat the third degree burns that was over more than half of her body.

Kim is now a Canadian citizen and shares her thoughts on survival and inspiration. She has traveled all over the world, meeting and talking with people about peace. She is now a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Phan Thi Kim Phuc in 2000

Epilogue: Trang Bang Revisited, April 2000

Excerpts from an AP story, April 26, 2000 by Richard Pyle, Associated Press writer

TRANG BANG, Vietnam - A lot has changed around this fork in the road since the day in 1972 when napalm exploded next to the Cao Dai temple and Phan Thi Kim Phuc fled, blistered and screaming, into photographic history.

The highway has been widened, the temple is larger and has a fresh coat of yellow paint. Kim Phuc's brother, Phan Thanh Tam - the one with his mouth in a crescent of agony in the famed photo that encapsulated the war's horrors - is now 41 and has a paunch. He runs an open-air coffee shack on the very spot where a South Vietnamese bomb hit on June 8, 1972.

Tam says he still has nightmares about the incident.

But he was all smiles Tuesday when Associated Press photographer Huynh Cong "Nick" Ut returned to the village of Trang Bang

"The girl was running, with her arms out. She was crying, Nong qua! Nong qua!' (Too hot! Too hot!). She had torn off all her clothes," Ut said. "When I saw she was burned, I dropped my camera beside the road. I knew I had a good picture. I got her into our van and took her and the family to the Cu Chi hospital."

The picture, and that act of mercy, established a bond between Ut and Kim Phuc "I always feel very sad when I come back here - I feel sad for Kim Phuc, her family and the other people who got hurt," he said.

Tam's earnings from the small roadside restaurant are so meager that he recently had to disconnect his phone, relying on letters to keep in touch with his sister in Canada. But he continues to draw a kind of pride from the tragedy of 1972. "Many people come here to hear the story," Tam said, holding up a Spanish-language magazine spread of Ut's pictures, and thumbing into his wallet for the business cards of recent journalist-visitors .

"When I think about the war," he added, speaking through an interpreter. "I think about Kim Phuc, and about the picture."

 

Tet-Offensive Saigon: Festnahme einer Vietcong-Kämpferin - Hintergrundbericht
Tet-Offensive Saigon:
Die Hinrichtung - Hintergrundbericht

 


*Letzte Änderung: 26.07.2002 - maw

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