(Clarinda) – Page County has played host to a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer who recorded the carnage of the Vietnam War.
Members of the 61st US Army Assault Helicopter Company held a meeting Thursday night at Ice House in Clarinda. Among those present was a special guest. Nick Ut was a photographer for the Associated Press for 51 years. From 1967 to 1975, Ut took photos of the ongoing conflicts in Southeast Asia. In January 1972, he took one of the most provocative photos in the history of photojournalism. Ut was at the scene when a napalm attack accidentally struck a South Vietnamese village, instead of North Vietnamese troops. As he took photos of villagers fleeing the attack, Ut told KMA News his camera spotted a naked girl who had been burned by napalm.
“Then I saw this girl running around naked,” Ut said. “I saw his arm and body so badly burned, I said, ‘wow, I don’t want to take any more pictures.'”
Ut then dropped her camera and rescued the injured girl.
“After seeing the girl running, I put my camera down on the freeway,” Ut said. “I put water on her body and tried to help her. I knew she could have died in a matter of minutes, which is why I tried to help her now. Most of the time. some media left after taking a photo. I was alone. there. “
Ut then took the girl to a local hospital. He then brought his film to the AP office in Saigon. Editors initially rejected the photo because it depicted a girl in full frontal nudity. But, it was then distributed to newspapers and media across the country. Ut’s photo won him the Pulitzer Prize for topical photography in 1973. Ut says he enjoyed attending the Vietnamese helicopter unit reunion in Clarinda.
“You know, I was so happy to see all the former Vietnam War pilots, because I flew with them almost every day, everywhere,” Ut said. “I flew to Hamburger Hill, Cambodia, Laos. A few times I almost got shot.”
In fact, Ut has been injured at least three times while in Southeast Asia. Ut moved to the Los Angeles area in 1975 and covered events in Hollywood until his retirement three years ago. He currently lives in Monterey Park, California. Another note: the naked girl in the photo survived her ordeal and now lives in Canada.