Famed photographer attacked day after receiving presidential award

A famed photographer was attacked on the street in Washington, D.C., a day after receiving an award from the president.

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Pulitzer Prize winning photographer Nick Ut was in Washington on Wednesday to accept the National Medal of Arts, the highest award given to artists and art patrons. He is the first journalist to receive the presidential award.

On Thursday, he was walking to dinner when he was randomly attacked on the street, WRC reported.

“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, 70, fell onto some metal fencing on the ground surrounding a tree, injuring his ribs, back and leg, WRC reported. He refused to go to a hospital. Ut was more concerned about his camera.

“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 Mark Edward Harris, Ut’s friend and fellow photographer who was with him at the time of the attack.

The attacker was quickly surrounded and taken into custody by Secret Service police.

Ut and Harris are in Washington through the inauguration taking photos.

Ut spent 51 years as a photojournalist for The Associated Press. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Spot Photography in 1973 for his “Terror of War” picture of the Vietnam War. Ut took the image in 1972 of a terrified 9-year-old Kim Phuc running down a road, her body burning from napalm bombs dropped on her village.

After taking the image, Ut helped take Phuc to a hospital. Doctors were able to save her life. In 1989, Ut and Phuc were reunited in Havana, where Phuc was attending medical school. They have remained close friends.

Harris said she calls Ut, “Uncle Nick.”

“She’s calling him now seeing if he’s OK and worrying about him,” Harris said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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