Fifty years ago, a nine-year-old Vietnamese girl ran for her life after American fighter jets dropped napalm bombs. The picture of him running and screaming naked became one for the annals of history. Now, at the age of 59, she has received the ultimate skin treatment for severe burns caused by the attack, in the same country that waged war against her.
Nicknamed ‘Napalm Girl’, Kim Phuc Phan Ti undergoes several procedures and treatments to relieve pain from third degree burns on her body that she suffered during a napalm strike in her village in June 1972 during the Vietnam War Was.
After a year’s stay in the hospital and 17 surgeries, the badly burned girl was discharged. She had to go through several more procedures over the next decade before she could walk properly again. Yet every day was yearning for him.
Phan Ti and her husband fled communist-ruled Vietnam in 1992 and sought asylum in Canada. In 2015, she came in contact with Dr. Jill Zwiebel in Miami (in the US state of Florida), seeking special treatment for her burns and scars. Knowing Phan Ti’s story, Dr. Zwiebel agreed to provide the treatment for free.
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nick Utt, who shot his now-iconic war photo before taking him to the hospital, joined Phan Ti in Miami for the final procedure and took more pictures of him. This time she was smiling.
In an interview with CBS News, Phan Ti recalled the horrific ordeal that changed her life: She was playing with other children when Vietnamese soldiers told her to run.
He looked up, watching an airplane drop a bomb, before his village engulfed in flames. “Very hot! Very hot!” She cried while running. His clothes were burnt, and third degree burns were all over his body.
“I still remember what I thought in that moment — ‘Oh my god, I get burned, then I’ll be ugly, then people will look at me in a different way,'” she said.
After successfully completing her skin healing procedures, Phan Ti said, “Now 50 years later, I am no longer a victim of war, I am no longer a napalm girl, I am now a friend, a helper, I am a grandmother.” And now I am a survivor crying out for peace.”