Kim Phuc, known to a generation as the napalm girl, thanked her rescuers today in Toronto to mark the 40th anniversary of the iconic photo that some say helped stop the Vietnam War.
It was June 8, 1972, when South Vietnamese airplanes bombed Phuc’s village with the incendiary gel.
With her skin burning, the 9-year-old girl fled naked down a road, screaming.
Nick Ut, then 21, turned and raised his camera to capture the picture.
“I’m so grateful he was there,” Phuc told The Associated Press. “He helped me and rushed me to the nearest hospital. He saved my life. He’s my hero. This opportunity tonight I want to honor all of my personal heroes.”
Ut was on assignment for the AP from Saigon when bombs dropped 150 yards away from him about 7 a.m. that morning.
Villagers started running down Highway 1, including Phuc’s grandparents who asked Ut to help.
Ut told the New York Daily News that British journalist Christopher Wain doused Phuc with water.
“I had my car there, my AP company car with my driver,” Ut told the Daily News. “Then I put all the children in my car, four kids in my car. Kim Phuc was yelling, ‘I’m dying! I’m dying!’”
He had to show his American press pass to nurses at the hospital, who said they were too overwhelmed with patients, to ensure Phuc received treatment.
Ut, who still shoots for AP, earned a Pulitzer Prize for the photo.
Phuc became a spokeswoman for communist Vietnam until defecting to Canada in 1992. She has two sons, and is now a UNESCO goodwill ambassador.
She was to thank Ut as well as other journalists, doctors and nurses who saved her life at a dinner in Toronto on Friday.
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