In an emotional pairing, Ut was reunited with Kim Phuc, the subject of his best-known image, the so-called “Napalm Girl” photo from the Vietnam War, which showed her after she was painfully showered with the defoliant during an air strike. It earned Ut a Pulitzer Prize in 1973 and helped heighten awareness of the war.
Former AP Vietnam correspondent Peter Arnett introduced his longtime friend:
Nick Ut was born 65 years ago in a small village in Vietnam in the midst of one of the bloodiest revolutionary wars of the 20th century.I first met him in Saigon in 1965 during the funeral of his older brother Huynh Thanh My, age 26, a Vietnamese Associated Press photographer killed while covering a battle against the Vietcong.Nick begged us to allow him to follow in his brother’s footsteps, and the AP hired him as a darkroom assistant. He was 15 years old.
Nick Ut’s Press Club award tonight for lifetime achievement is a testament to his superb photographic skills, his professional dedication through war and peace, and his strong sense of humanity.This was most evident when in 1972 he famously not only photographed the desperate escape of wounded Vietnamese children from a napalm bomb strike against their village, but comforted the most grievously wounded child, 9-year-old Kim Phuc.He draped her naked body in a soldier’s raincoat and drove her to a medical clinic for immediate treatment—and only then sending off his pictures.Nick did not forget her when he won the Pulitzer Prize for his picture, and helped Kim Phuc as much as he could as she began her recovery.
Most recently, Ut traveled to Miami for Phuc’s latest series of laser treatments.
Arnett also read a testimonial from AP Director of Photography Santiago Lyon:
Nick currently works on an eclectic mix of stories every day, ranging from breaking news to celebrity sightings and everything in between. Throughout, his solid professionalism, charismatic charm and good cheer have served him well and we are lucky to have him on our staff.
Ut has been busy lately shooting wildfires in California.