Kim Phuc Talks About
the Incident of June 8, 1972
by Horst Faas and Marianne Fulton
Kim Phuc said in London:
"I see the picture and the documentary (referring to a film that
was made about her life in 1997). That makes me remember all the
time. I saw the airplane. I saw the fire. I got burned. I was so
scared and crying and running out of the fire."
Kim Phuc added later:
"Panicking under the fire I suddenly realised that my feet had not
been burned. At least I could run away. If my feet wound have been
burned I would have died in the fire."
Kim Phuc does not try to avoid memories.
She wants to see the photograph exposed to future generations. "Let
the world see how horrible wars can be", Tom Buerkle of the IHT
Rather than returning with his eight
rolls of film directly to the AP office in Saigon Nick Ut did not
hesitate to load Kim Phuc with some members of her family into the
AP's minibus and drive her to the provincial hospital in Cu Chi.
Nick Ut recalled in London, 28 years
later, with Kim Phuc standing beside him: "When we reached there
the hospital was overcrowded with war injured people. I had the
impression that the emergency nurse who received us intended to
hospitalise Kim Phuc, but not rush her to be treated - considering
her a hopeless case and to die sooner or later. I got through to
a doctor and explained who I was, what I had photographed and that
Kim Phuc needs immediate help."
Kim Phuc said in London about Nick
Ut:" He saved my life. He's wonderful, isn't. he? I am so grateful
that he didn't only do his job, but he's a human being helping another."
Kim Phuc now calls Huynh Cong 'Nick'
Ut her 'Uncle Ut'.
However, the happy ending in London
was preceded by endless years while doctors fought for her life.
Her chin was molded to her chest, caused by burn wounds. Her left
arm was almost lost, except for the bones and scarred flesh. Seventeen
operations were necessary to give Kim Phuc a life back worth living.
Today Kim says she knows no hate.
"If I could talk to the pilot who dropped the bomb," she said,"
I would say that we can' t alter history."
Pilot and plane were part of the 518th
Squadron of the South Vietnamese Airforce (VNAF) based in Bien Hoa.
The family of Kim Phuc - in Nick
Phan Thi Kim Phuc had seven brothers
and sisters between the ages of 18 and 1 years old at the time of
the June 8, 1972 air raid in which she was injured.
Her parents - the father Phan Thanh
Tung and mother Du Ngoc Nu owned a small roadside restaurant and
some land just behind the Cao Dai pagoda. The members of the family
were at the time believers of the Cao Dai religion, a faith combining
elements of Christianity, Buddhism and Taoism, founded in the region
west of Saigon in the early 20th century.
The family had not fled when North
Vietnamese troops showed up in Trang Bang. They were not aware until
the very last moment that they would be in the target area of an
air strike which was aimed at North Vietnamese troops but mistakenly
caught unaware civilians.
In Nick's award winning picture other
members of her family run alongside her.
At left, screaming in agony from an
eye injury is her then 12-year old brother Phan Thanh Tam. A bit
behind is her youngest brother Phan Thanh Phuoc , then 5 years old
and not seriously injured in the raid. At right are Kim Phu's small
cousins Ho Van Bo, a boy, and Ho Thi Ting, a girl.
Other pictures show Kim Phuc's aunt,
Nguyen Thi Xi, carrying the nine-months old boy Phan Can Cuong and
her grandmother Ly Thi Tho with the three year old Phan Van Danh
- both distant relatives of Kim Phuc.
Cuong and Danh were the two fatal
casualties of the raid. Danh died in Kim Phuc grandmother's arms,
Cuong died ten days later from burns.