Remembering Defining Photo of Vietnam War

Photographer and subject recall the horrors of napalm in Vietnam War

By Ted Chen and Jason Kandel
|  Sunday, Jun 3, 2012  |  Updated 7:04 PM PDT
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It's been 40 years since the photo captured the horror of the United States' then-longest war. A naked and badly burned 9-year-old girl running away from the napalm bombing of her village. Ted Chen reports for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on June 3, 2012.

It's been 40 years since the photo captured the horror of the United States' then-longest war. A naked and badly burned 9-year-old girl running away from the napalm bombing of her village. Ted Chen reports for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on June 3, 2012.

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To many people, it is the defining picture of the Vietnam War -- a naked and badly burned 9-year-old girl running away from the napalm bombing of her village.

Los Angeles-based photographer Nick Ut still remembers those terrible moments like they were yesterday.

“When she running I say, ‘Oh, my God, I don’t want her to die. That’s why I took water. I really wanted to help her,” said Ut, an Associated Press photographer.

They have been connected ever since.

And it's now 40 years since Ut took that famous photograph of Kim Phuc, now 49.

To mark the anniversary, the two of them returned to Liberty Baptist Church today in Newport Beach, where Phuc has spoken twice before.

For Phuc, who now lives in Canada with her husband and two children, the burns from that day are very much a part of her. She is often in pain.

The memories are fresh.

“We were running up the road,” she said. “There were bombs and explosions of gasoline. My clothes were burned off by the fire. My skin was on fire.”

Phuc also lost her brothers that day.

But today, as a devout Christian, she wants those who look at the little girl in the picture to know there's no anger or bitterness.

“She has joy she has hope and she learned about forgiveness,” Phuc said.

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