​The girl in the picture

The girl in the picture 09:57

Anyone who who lived through the Vietnam War period remembers the girl in the picture. The picture captures a terrible moment, while also raising a poignant question -- a question Jane Pauley sets out to answer in our Cover Story:

A little girl screaming in pain, trying to outrun the napalm burning her body.

It's an image seared into our consciousness still -- the horrors of war visited upon an innocent child.

Did you ever wonder, what happened to that little girl?

AP Photographer Nick Ut's pictures of Kim Phuc, who was the nine-year-old child depicted in the photograph taken in the aftermath of a napalm attack in Trang Bang during the Vietnam War on June 8, 1972. The image shocked the world and helped sway public opinion against the Vietnam War. © Krista Kennell/ZUMAPRESS.com

Kim Phuc is now 52. It was 43 years ago that she got burned. It was the day that defined the rest of her life.

Twenty-one-year-old Nick Ut was there that day, a Vietnamese photographer on assignment for the Associated Press.

"I look in my camera viewfinder, I saw the girl naked running," he told Pauley.

He took the picture that would win the Pulitzer Prize.

"When she passed by my camera, I saw her body burned so badly. I said, '"My God, I need to help her,'" said Ut.

"So they tried to help me," said Kim Phuc. "But after they pouring water over my body, seems like I pass out. I didn't remember anything else."

He wrapped her in a soldier's rain poncho.

"I don't want to see the picture of her naked," he said. "I had covered her. She keep screaming, say 'I'm dying! I'm dying!' all the time."

He took her to the hospital, where the doctors thought she was dying, too. "They placed me to the morgue because they give up hope," she said. "And they consider I have no way to survive."

"They decided, 'This one isn't gonna make it,' you were written off?" asked Pauley.


Her family found her still alive, but barely. After 14 months and 17 operations, she did make it. "I said, 'Wow, God not finished with me yet!'" Kim Phuc laughed.

Kim Phuc (right) with CBS News correspondent Jane Pauley. CBS News

At the time, Kim did not feel like part of God's plan. Only a little girl so horribly disfigured, who would ever marry her?

"At nine years old, I remember I thought, 'Oh my goodness, I got burned and I became ugly. And people will see me different way,'" she said.

So she dreamed of becoming a doctor, and at 19 started medical school. But the picture caught up with her.

The Vietnamese government found a national treasure -- and a propaganda tool.

"So they started to take me out to do a lot of interviews," Kim said.