Pulitzer-Winning L.A.-Based AP Photographer Nick Ut, Who Took Iconic Vietnam War Photo, Retires After 51 Years

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Famed Associated Press photographer Nick Ut, who won the Pulitzer Prize for his 1972 photo that became an iconic image of the Vietnam War, is retiring after a half-century in journalism.

Nick Ut is seen at a news event. (Credit: KTLA)

Los Angeles-based Ut's last day with the wire service was Wednesday. It was his 66th birthday.

When Ut was 21, he was working for AP in his native Vietnam when he took a photo of a naked 9-year-old girl fleeing her village after a napalm attack. He saw that she was burned so badly her skin was falling off her arm and used his media credentials to get her treated at a hospital.

"If I walked away, I think I'd kill myself one day, if I don't help her," Ut told KTLA.

He is still close with that girl, Kim Phúc, years later.

In March 2017, on the eve of his retirement, Nick Ut holds the 1973 photo that earned him a Pulitzer Prize. (Credit: KTLA)

Ut won the Pulitzer Prize for spot news photography in 1973 for the photo, which became known as "Napalm Girl."

He had followed his older brother into the profession, taking the job at AP when the brother was killed by Viet Cong.

Ut came to California as a refugee in 1975, after Saigon fell. AP sent him to Tokyo, and then to Los Angeles in 1977.

He became a fixture at Southern California news scenes, covering major stories like the O.J. Simpson trial.

On the 35th anniversary of the "Napalm Girl" photo, he captured a very different image from a scene that became famous: that of sobbing socialite Paris Hilton in the back of a sheriff's vehicle, jail-bound in 2007.

He called his career "from hell to Hollywood," the AP has reported.

"A different story every day. That's why I enjoy," he said.

Nick Ut on assignment at a crime scene in Altadena on July 6, 2017. (Credit: Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

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