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Pulitzer winning photographer donates historic war photos to museum

Update: May, 08/2017 - 09:00
Most suitable home: Nick Út explains the photo collection he donated to the Vietnamese Women’s Museum on May 6, 2017. VNS Photo Lê Hương
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI – Former Associated Press war photographer Huỳnh Công Út (Nick Út) donated a set of five historic photos of the American war in Việt Nam and a camera he used during the war to the Vietnamese Women’s Museum in Hà Nội on May 6.

His photo of Phan Thị Kim Phúc, a nine-year-old girl running naked along the road crying from burns inflicted by a napalm bomb dropped by the US in the southern province of Tây Ninh in 1972, won a Pulitzer Prize in 1973.

Easing pain: A photo by Nick Út’s colleague showing him pouring water on Phan Thị Kim Phúc’s burnt body on June 8, 1972. The photo is among the collection Nick Út donated to the Vietnamese Women’s Museum.
The photo has been exhibited at various museums and libraries in the US and millions of people have seen it as a symbol of the fierce war in Việt Nam by the Americans,” Út told Việt Nam News. “Women and children are major victims in these photos and I think there is no other place better suited to keep them than this museum.”

“I’m no longer young. I would like these photos to tell the next generations about the war,” he said.

Four other photos were taken at the same place on June 8, 1972, including a photo taken by one of Út’s colleage, which captured Út pouring water on Phúc’ body to ease her pain while waiting for a car to take her to the hospital.

Út also gave the museum a Nikkormat camera, one of the cameras he used during the time he worked for AP as a photo journalist.

“These are valuable photos with long-lasting power,” said Dương Thị Hằng, deputy director of the museum. “The photos record war pains of women and children, which helped kick off many anti-war demonstrations in the world.”

The “Napalm Girl” photo shocked the world when it was sent four hours later by the AP office in Sài Gòn to AP headquarters in New York, igniting an anti-American war movement in the US and Europe.

The photo won Út a Pulitzer Prize in 1973, though he did not know what the prize meant when he received the news.

Turning point: The historic photo dubbed ’Napalm Girl’ taken by Nick Út in Tây Ninh Province on June 8, 1972.

The photo series by Út also changed Phúc’s life. As a war victim, she has travelled around the world to talk about the American war in Việt Nam as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador.

Út, who was born in 1951 in the southern province of Long An, now resides in Los Angeles.

He worked for the AP as a photo journalist since the age of 16. He had also covered battles in Laos and Cambodia.

After the war in Việt Nam ended, he was sent to Japan to work. In 1977, he moved to Los Angeles, where he continued working for AP capturing news events and the lives of Hollywood stars.

Since his retirement in 2007, Út has returned to Việt Nam more often to take pictures of people and landscapes.

The photos he donated will be dislayed at the museum, located at 36 Lý Thường Kiệt Street, till May 18, part of a special exhibition themed “Museum and History: Sharing Untold Stories”, before being moved to the museum’s permanent collection. — VNS


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