Wednesday, May 9, 2012

When Nick Ut Saved the Naked Running Girl

I don't mean to be as flip as that title might suggest.  The photograph shows children, one a naked girl running down the road.  You can't see how badly burned she is from the front, but the children from a South Vietnamese village had been caught in a napalm attack from their people's own military. 

First lets have an definition of Napalm from Wikipedia:
Napalm is a thickening/gelling agent generally mixed with petroleum or a similar fuel for use in an incendiary device, primarily as an anti-personnel weapon.
It makes the burning fuel stick to the human or other body so it burns more effectively.  This is what the South Vietnam army was dropping on the people of the village that you will see in the video.  That kind of horrific tactic is why many Americans didn't feel bad that South Vietnam and their allies, er we, lost the war. .

More importantly, this is a look at what was allowed in those days, and may still be allowed in the theater of war.  It is cleaned up and removed from sight of people back home.  We saw the still at the time.  Everyone most likely remembers it, and I read a report of what happened once in the 80s.  But I never saw the video before, never saw Kim Phuk's back with it's horrible burn before I saw this report.

The report will tell you that Nick Ut works in LA now as a photographer.  I have seen his name on many photos, including ones that people might call paparazzi shots.  He was the guy or one of the photographers who caught Paris Hilton crying as she was driven back to complete her sentence of incarceration a few years back.  We all have to get by somehow.

(The people in fatigues were all photographers and reporters, not military.)