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Nick Ut, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Photojournalist, Retires This Month

After 51 years as a photojournalist, Nick Ut is retiring this month.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer, whose “Napalm Girl” photograph garnered instant international attention when it was first published in 1972, has had quite a storied career, according to the AP.

After the death of his older brother, also an AP photographer, the 15-year-old Ut approached AP’s Saigon bureau chief, Horst Faas, and asked for a job. At first, he was refused – Faas did not want the deaths of two brothers on his hands – but Ut eventually talked his way into the darkroom in 1966 and, later, onto the battlefield.

Throughout the American War, Ut took scores of photographs and was wounded four times, however it was his 1972 photograph taken in Trang Bang of a young girl running down the road, her skin burned from a napalm attack, which earned the then-21-year-old a Pulitzer, among other awards. Shortly after the photograph was taken, Ut rushed the girl in the picture, nine-year-old Kim Phuc, to a hospital. She survived, and the two have been friends ever since.

The photograph of Kim Phuc fleeing a napalm attack, taken on June 8, 1972, which won Nick Ut a Pulitzer Prize. Photo via Flickr user manhhai.

After the war, the Long An native worked for AP’s Tokyo bureau for a while before relocating to Los Angeles, where he photographed local news events as well as scores of celebrities.

Moving forward, the 66-year-old Ut will spend his retirement with his two grandchildren and taking photographs.

“I'll take pictures until I die,” Ut told AP. “My camera is like my doctor, my medicine.”

Here are some of Ut’s photographs from the American War era – as well as a few pictures of Ut himself during that time – courtesy of Flickr user manhhai:

Nick Ut in the 1970s.

Ut photographing the conflict between Vietnam and Cambodia in 1970 near Svay Rieng, Cambodia. He was wounded shortly after the photograph was taken.

Medics treat Ut's injuries in Trang Bang in 1972.

Route 13, 1972.

Refugees on Route 13, 1972.

An Loc, 1972.

A family flees toward Saigon along Route 13, 1972.

Soldiers in Cambodia, 1970.

Napalm bombs and white phosphorous explode on the outskirts of Trang Bang on June 8, 1972.

A woman flees a temple that has just been bombed in Trang Bang, 1972.

An old woman carries a child burned by napalm in Trang Bang, 1972.

Kim Phuc, the "Napalm Girl" who appeared in Ut's Pulitzer-Prize winning photo, was severely burned by the napalm attack in Trang Bang on June 8, 1972. Ut rushes to help her.

Newswoman Edie Lederer kisses Ut upon hearing the news that he won the 1973 Pulitzer Prize for for spot news photography.

[Photos via Flickr user manhhai]


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