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Woman from Vietnam War Napalm Photo Receiving Treatment for Painful Scars

Woman from Vietnam War Napalm Photo Receiving Treatment for Painful Scars

Phan Thi Kim Phuc, the Vietnamese girl in the iconic napalm attack photo, is finally receiving treatment for the burns she sustained in the attack. 

The photo shows Phuc at age 9 after the South Vietnamese Air Force dropped napalm on a village below. The napalm hit Phuc, burning the clothing off her body, and burning her chest, back and arms. 

The Christian Examiner reports South Vietnamese soldiers poured water on her burns after the photo was taken and she was sent to the hospital. But medical personnel didn’t believe she would survive. 

"They place me to the morgue because they give up," Phuc told CBS News. "They consider that I have no way to survive."

But Phuc lived, enduring 17 surgeries in 14 months. Still, she endured great pain constantly and was unable to attend school. 

Phuc said she was bitter during this time and full of hatred; people avoided her because of her scars. 

She frequently went to the library for solace. While there, Phuc found an old Bible and began to read. She became a Christian and her life began to turn around. 

“When I became a Christian, I just have so much peace in my heart. I trust that God will open a door for me,” Phuc said. 

Phuc now lives in Canada with her husband and travels to speak about her story. After speaking to one congregation, a member connected Phuc with his daughter-in-law, a dermatologist who specializes in burn victims. 

Four decades after the napalm attack, Phuc is now receiving treatment to remove the painful scars with a laser. The process can take over a year.

Phuc has remained in contact with Nick Ut, the photographer who captured the napalm attack photo in 1972. Ut is now photographing Phuc as she undergoes treatment for her scars.  

"He's the beginning and the end,” Phuc said of Ut. “He took my picture and now he'll be here with me with this new journey, new chapter."

Publication date: November 13, 2015