Woman From ‘Napalm Girl’ Photo Receives Her Final Burn Treatment 50 Years Later

An enduring symbol of the Vietnam War is a Pulitzer Prize-winning photo titled The Terror of War. Better known as Napalm Girl, the horrifying image by photojournalist Nick Ut features a girl, just 9 years old, running naked after a napalm attack on Vietnam on June 8, 1972. That girl, now a woman 50 years later, is Kim Phuc Phan Thi. Thi suffered severe injuries as a result of that attack, but five decades later, she has finally received her final burn treatment.

The iconic image shows the atrocities of war. Thi is seen screaming and running out of a fire, her clothes having burned off as soon as the napalm touched her. “I still remember my arm and seeing all the fire. I was so terrified, and I was so scared. And I thanked God my feet weren't burned, and I was able to run out of that fire…. We just kept running and running and running for a while,” she recalled. “And I cried out ‘Too hot! Too hot!’ The soldiers tried to help me. They tried to pour the water over me, and at that moment, I lost consciousness.”

Ut is who ultimately saved Thi. “After he took the picture, he saw me burning so badly … he put down the camera and took me to the nearest hospital, and I thought he saved my life,” she shared. “I owe him. He's my hero. Not only did he do his job as a photographer but also, he did extra as a human being. He helped. Now, I feel like he's a part of my family. That's why I call him Uncle Ut.”

Thi spent 14 months in the hospital following the attack. “I was really deformed,” she explains. “I could not feel at all, and a machine had to help wake up my nerves. Now, you see me looking normal.” This culminated with a 12th and final round of laser treatment at the Miami Dermatology and Laser Institute. Thi still suffers from ongoing pain from that horrible day, but the treatment—performed on her scorched back—helped heal some of her physical scars.

The 50th anniversary of the Napalm Girl photo offered a time of reflection for Thi. “I want everybody to celebrate my life, 50 years later. I am not a victim of war anymore. I am a survivor. I feel like 50 years ago, I was a victim of war but 50 years later, I was a friend, a helper, a mother, a grandmother and a survivor calling out for peace.”

An enduring symbol of the Vietnam War is a photo titled The Terror of War, aka Napalm Girl, by photographer Nick Ut. It shows a girl running naked after a napalm attack.


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A post shared by Nick Ut (@utnicky)

It's been 50 years since that attack on Kim Phuc Phan Thi—the girl in the photo. She recently had her last treatment to help heal some of the scarring on her back.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Nick Ut (@utnicky)


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Nick Ut (@utnicky)

h/t: [The Premier Daily]

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Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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