A Vietnamese girl of nine years old ran for her life 50 years ago as US fighter planes fired napalm bombs. The image of her rushing about screaming while nude went down in history. At the age of 59, she got the last skin treatment in the nation that had waged war on hers for the horrible burns she acquired in the attack.
Kim Phuc Phan Ti, also known as “Napalm Girl,” has been having several operations and therapies to ease the agony from the third-degree burns she sustained on her body when napalm was dropped on her hamlet in June 1972 during the Vietnam War.
The severely burnt girl was released from the hospital after a year in the hospital and 17 procedures. Before she could move fully, she had to have numerous further treatments over the following ten years. Even yet, she endured pain every day.
In 1992, Phan Ti and her husband left Vietnam under communist control and applied for asylum in Canada. She contacted Dr. Jill Zwaibel in Miami (in the US state of Florida) in 2015 to receive specialized care for her burns and scars. Dr. Zwaibel consented to provide the therapy without charging a fee after learning Phan Ti’s tale.
Phan Ti was in Miami for the last operation when Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nick Ut, who captured her now-famous battle photograph before rushing her to the hospital, joined her. He also took further photos of her. She grinned this time.
Phan Ti described the terrible experience that altered her life in an interview with CBS News. She was playing with other kids when Vietnamese troops ordered her to escape.
Before her community caught fire, she glanced up and saw an airplane dropping bombs. She yelled, “Too hot! Too hot!” and bolted for the door. She had third-degree burns all over her body and had her garments burnt off.
“Oh my gosh, I got burned, then I will be ugly, then people would perceive me differently,” she recalled thinking.
Phan Ti, who had had successful skin-treatment treatments, declared: “Now 50 years later, I am no longer a victim of war, I am no longer the Napalm girl, but rather a friend, a helper, a grandma, and a survivor shouting out for peace.