Pulitzer Prize-winning Associated Press war photographers Eddie Adams and Nick Utand one of Ut’s famous subjects Kim Phucwill visit the West Virginia University campus at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 23, to discuss the power of the image during times of war.
The event,”Faces of War: Pictures that Won Hearts and Changed History,”is being held as the finale to a spring journalism class offered by Professor George Esper as a response to the Sept. 11 attacks. The event, open to the public, will be held in Room 21 of White Hall. The previous day, the panel will present the forum in Charleston.
Phuc was just 9 years old on June 8, 1972, when a misdirected napalm bomb was dropped near her family’s home. Ut caught the naked and screaming youngster running down Route 1 near Trang Bang Village, Vietnam. After quickly capturing the image on film, he rushed Phuc to a hospital, where she received treatment that saved her life.
The photograph, which seared the world’s conscience and captured the horrific nature of the Vietnam War, earned Ut nearly every major photographic award in 1973, including the Pulitzer Prize.
Adams’1969 Pulitzer was perhaps just as memorable. This celebrated photographer captured the indelible image of Vietnamese Gen. Nguyen Ngoc Loan executing a Viet Cong lieutenant at point-blank range.
* Nick Ut
Born in Vietnam, Nick Ut (real name Ut Cong) joined the Associated Press in Saigon in 1966, covering the remainder of the Vietnam War.
There were many close calls for Ut. When the Americans and South Vietnamese invaded Cambodia in 1970, he was wounded three timesin the stomach, left leg and on the upper right chest area. Another time Ut recalled”a rocket parted my hairI was very lucky.”
His oldest brother, My Thanh Huynh, also an Associated Press photographer, was not so lucky. He was killed in combat in 1965.
The highlight of Ut’s career came on a rainy day June 8, 1972, as he photographed 9-year- old Kim Phuc as she ran naked and screaming down a road near Trang Bang Village, Vietnam, after a misdirected napalm bomb was dropped on her family’s home by a South Vietnamese plane.
“After I took her picture, I didn’t want to see her die,”Ut recalled.”Seventy-five percent of her body was scorched with third-degree burns.”
After capturing the image on film, he rushed her to a hospital where she received treatment that saved her life. He continued to visit her in the hospital, bring her books and gifts and eventually set up a fund for donations to her family.
The photograph, which seared the world’s conscience, became the scream heard around the globe and earned Ut nearly every major photographic award in 1973, including the Pulitzer Prize, World Press Photo, Sigma Delta Chi Award, George Polk Memorial Award, Overseas Press Club Award, National Press Club Award and others. The picture was the choice of the 20th
century, perhaps remaining the most graphic and memorable image of the Vietnam War.
Today, Phuc is a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador living in Canada, and Ut stays in close contact with her and her family.
Appropriately, Ut was asked in 1993 to open the new AP bureau in Hanoi to work alongside his old friend and Saigon AP colleague, George Esper, now WVU ’s Ogden Newspapers Visiting Professor. Ut moved AP’s first photos out of the post-war Hanoi office.
Today, he continues his general assignment work out of the AP’s Los Angeles bureau.
* * *Nick Adams *
Adams, recipient of more than 500 international, national and local awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, is one of the most decorated photographers in America today. Over his 40-year career, his work has encompassed the fields of journalism, corporate, editorial, fashion, entertainment and advertising photography.
After working as a staff photographer for several newspapers, including the Philadelphia Bulletin, Adams’relationship with the Associated Press began in 1961. He was the first and only photographer with the title of”special correspondent”while on staff there.
He has since photographed the ravages of 13 wars, his last while on assignment in Kuwait for Life magazine in 1991.
His most notable assignment was in Vietnam, where he accompanied both American and Vietnamese troops in more than 150 operations during three tours of duty, totaling over two years. It was there, in 1968, that Adams captured the image of Vietnamese Gen. Nguyen Ngoc Loan executing a Viet Cong lieutenant at point-blank range. Adams was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for this photograph in 1969.
Years later, Adams experienced another challenging and personally rewarding assignment. In 1979, he was the first to capture images of the”boat people”fleeing Vietnam. While on a 30-foot fishing boat with 50 others, Adams documented their flight from the shattered nation.
After the photographs were released, they provoked an unprecedented response. Within months, then-President Jimmy Carter had granted more than 179,000 boat people entry into the United States.
Adams is the only three-time winner of both Sigma Delta Chi’s Distinguished Service Award and the George Polk Memorial Award. He was named the National Press Photographer Association’s (NPPA) Magazine Photographer of the Year by the University of Missouri in 1975. The following year, the National Press Photographer’s Association (NPPA)/University of Missouri honored him with the Joseph Sprague Award, considered to be the highest honor that can be given to a photographer by his colleagues for his contribution to picture journalism.
Today, Adams continues to serve as a special correspondent for Parade Magazine.
* * * *Kim Phuc * * *
Phuc was once a symbol of the horrors of war. Today, Phuc is a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador, spreading a message on the need for reconciliation, mutual understanding, dialogue and negotiation to replace confrontation and violence as a means of settling conflicts.
Phuc was just 9 years old when she was photographed by AP photographer Nick Ut as she ran down a road, screaming in pain from third-degree burns suffered during a napalm attack on her village in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. Two of her infant brothers were killed in the attack. Phuc spent 14 months recovering in a Saigon hospital, undergoing 17 operations to save her life.
She eventually went to study in Cuba and learned Spanish and English. She presently lives in Toronto, Canada, with her husband and two children.