A Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer who visited Washington, D.C., this week to accept an award from the White House was attacked downtown the next day.
Nick Ut, 70, became famous for a photo he took during the Vietnam War showing a young girl running through the streets of Vietnam following a napalm attack.
Ut accepted the Medal of Arts award at the White House Wednesday.
As he was walking to dinner on 15th Street NW Thursday, Ut was punched randomly.
“What happened last night, we had trouble,” he said. “I really don’t see that guy tackle me last night, and I hear yelling, but too late for me, and he punched me already.”
Ut fell to the ground, hitting metal fencing surrounding a tree and hurting his ribs, back and leg.
“His left leg was hurt, which is ironic because it’s the same leg that he still has shrapnel in from covering the Vietnam War,” said longtime friend and fellow award-winning photographer Mark Edward Harris, who was with Ut at the time of the attack.
The men say the assault was on an otherwise deserted street, blocks from the White House.
Harris took photos of his friend after the attack and the alleged assailant quickly surrounded by U.S. Secret Service police.
Ut didn’t want to go to the hospital. He was more concerned about his camera than himself.
“I worship Nick on so many levels, but definitely the bravery,” Harris said. “But he doesn’t even know it, particularly. It’s just who he is.”
Ut is getting lots of calls, including from the woman who became known as Napalm Girl.
“So worried about, Kim Phuc, the girl in the picture, and she always calls Nick, Uncle Nick, and she’s calling him now seeing if he’s OK and worrying about him,” Harris said.
They’re staying in D.C. through the inauguration, hoping to take more interesting photos.