The story behind Napalm Girl – 50 years on

It is an image that came to represent the horrors of war.
A young, naked girl, arms outstretched, screaming in pain, running from horrors unseen straight towards the camera.

Kim Phuc Phan Thi was just nine years old when her village in Vietnam was napalmed.
Third degree burns covered half her body. She was not expected to survive. Two of her cousins did not.
Listen to Niall’s full interview with Kim Phuc Phan Thi on the Sky News Daily podcast

Fifty years on she still bears the scars – both physical and mental.
Yet the message she wishes to spread is not of anger or revenge, but of forgiveness and peace. Somewhat timely, given events in Ukraine.

More from World

“I saw the aeroplane,” she told the Sky News Daily podcast. “It was very loud, very fast. And I stood right there.
“I saw the four canisters. Black. Falling down from the aeroplane. And I heard a haunting noise, that stays with me to this day.


“Then all of a sudden there was the fire everywhere around me”.
Kim was to spend the next two years in hospitals and clinics; over that time, the photograph, taken by Associated Press’s Nick Ut, became one of the most iconic images from the conflict.

Image: Kim was only nine years old when her village in Vietnam was struck by napalm
The image’s power and infamy were not lost on the Vietnamese government – Kim became a useful tool of propaganda.
“And then it hit me so bad. Many times, my thoughts went to suicide.
“It was so hard to deal with. Physical pain and now emotional pain.
“And because of that, I thought suicide. But I couldn’t do it.”
It was her newfound Christian faith that saved her.
Click to subscribe to the Sky News Daily wherever you get your podcasts
Kim eventually left Vietnam to study in Cuba where she met and married her husband. The two managed to defect to the West when the plane returning them home refuelled in Newfoundland.
They made a new life in Canada, and in 1996 she was invited to speak about her experiences to several thousand Vietnam veterans in Washington DC.

Image: Kim Phuc Phan Thi now uses her Christian faith to spread a message of forgiveness – giving funds through her charity to groups providing free medical care to children who are victims of war and terrorism
It was there she met the American pilot who coordinated the attack on her village.
“He cried like a child… couldn’t stop. And he asked me, do you forgive me? Do you forgive me?
“And I say, ‘yes, I do. That’s why I’m here’.
“And he told me ‘please, can you look at my eyes? You can see the sorrow that I carry for 24 years’.
“And of course, I gave him a big hug.”
It is a message of forgiveness that she now takes to the world through the work of the Kim Foundation International, giving funds to groups providing free medical care to children who are victims of war and terrorism.
That desperate, terrified little girl turned her pain into love – and made the world just that little bit better.
Niall Paterson presents the Sky News Daily podcast – bringing a deeper look at the big stories, with Sky News correspondents, and expert guests.
Producer: Soila Apparicio
Editor: Philly Beaumont
Interviews Producer: Alys Bowen
Podcast Promotions Producer: David Chipakupaku

Source : Sky News