Retired AP photographer Nick Ut, the man who captured the iconic war photo featuring the 'Napalm Girl', sat down for an exclusive interview with Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on Thursday morning to discuss life after retirement and future plans.
The 66-year-old Vietnamese American photographer recently donated the photo and five others taken in the same context to the Vietnamese Women’s Museum in Hanoi.
“Vietnam is my home, and the home of those photos,” he said.
“The subjects in most of these photos are Vietnamese girls and women. There’s no place more deserving of these photos than the Vietnamese Women’s Museum.”
“The whole world may know of the Napalm Girl, a girl named Kim Phuc who survived the war, and a photojournalist named Nick Ut who happened to save her,” Nick Ut told Tuoi Tre.
“But when I asked children I saw on the streets of Vietnam whether or not they knew about the Napalm Girl, their answer was no. I hope that Vietnamese students visit museums more often to better understand the history of their nation.”
Among his donations to the museum was a Nikkormat camera that he had used to take photos during the American War in Vietnam.
Nick Ut said he has also donated many personal belongings to museums in Washington, D.C, U.S.A.
“I’m not young anymore, and when the day comes that I am to die, these museums will be the time capsule of my youth,” he said.
Nick Ut said his most haunting experience as a war photojournalist was the constant exposure to blood and death.
“It took a toll on my mind and mental health,” he said.
“I might have left the war behind, but I could never get myself to push those haunting images out of my head. I would wake up in sweats at night to the sound of an approaching airliner.”
The grey-haired photographer said he has refrained from watching war documentaries and movies with blood and violence since the war. They are simply too much of a reminder of war time in Vietnam.
“After half a century of working, retirement came as a welcome blessing,” Nick Ut said of his retirement as an AP photographer in March.
“Now that I have more free time on my hands, I’ve started wandering about and taking photos of the views and people out of boredom.”
'The Terror of War' by Nick Ut. Photo: AP/Nick Ut
Nick Ut said he had refused teaching jobs at universities in the U.S. to return to Vietnam and share his experience with students and young reporters.
“I want to spend time with my family, open galleries, and write books,” he said.
Huynh Cong Ut, known professionally as Nick Ut is a Vietnamese American ex-photographer for the Associated Press (AP) who works out of Los Angeles.
He won both the 1973 Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography and the 1973 World Press Photo of the Year for 'The Terror of War', depicting children in flight from a napalm bombing at the Trang Bang Village in the southern province of Tay Ninh during the American War in Vietnam in 1972.
Nick Ut retired from AP on March 29, 2017.