In 1972, Associated Press news photographer Nick Ut’s image of a screaming, naked, 9-year-old Vietnamese girl fleeing a napalm attack on the village of Trang Bang helped to galvanize American sentiment against the Vietnam war. Today, after 51 years with the AP, Ut will celebrate his retirement with a party and exhibit of his work (including that iconic Pulitzer Prize-winning photo) at 6:30 p.m. at The Perfect Exposure Gallery, 1125 Crenshaw Blvd.
Ut, whose Vietnamese name is Huỳnh Công Út, has worked in Vietnam, Tokyo, South Korea and, currently, here in Los Angeles. He was wounded three times in the Vietnam war in his knee, arm, and stomach. He has photographed a wide range of influential stories in news, sports, riots, fires, presidents, the trial of the century, and many celebrities. But his most famous work has remained that indelible shot from June 8, 1972, which continues to garner attention today — most recently because it was briefly banned from Facebook for violating that site’s policy against nude photos. (After snapping the photo, Ut helped the girl, Phan Thi Kim Phuc, get medical attention. She survived her wounds and in 1997 established the Kim Phúc Foundation, which provides medical and psychological assistance to child victims of war.)