Remembering Hoorst Faas

Associated Press on WhoSay

This article first appeared in a slideshow on The Associated Press website,

As chief of photo operations for The Associated Press in Saigon for a decade beginning in 1962, Horst Faas didn’t just cover the fighting – he also recruited and trained new talent from among foreign and Vietnamese freelancers.

The result was “Horst’s army” of young photographers, who fanned out with Faas-supplied cameras and film and stern orders to “come back with good pictures.”

He and his editors chose the best and put together a steady flow of telling photos – South Vietnam’s soldiers fighting and its civilians struggling to survive amid the maelstrom.

Faas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning combat photographer who carved out new standards of covering war with a camera and became one of the world’s legendary photojournalists in nearly half a century with the AP, died on Thursday in Munich, said his daughter, Clare Faas. He was 79.

Among his top proteges was Huynh Thanh My, an actor turned photographer who in 1965 became one of four AP staffers and one of two South Vietnamese among more than 70 journalists killed in the 15-year war.

My’s younger brother, Hyunh Cong “Nick” Ut, followed his brother at AP and under Faas’s tutelage won one the news agency’s six Vietnam War Pulitzer Prizes, for his iconic 1972 picture of a badly burned Vietnamese girl fleeing an aerial napalm attack.

Nick Ut now lives and works in California as an AP staff photographer. Here, Ut remembers his friend and colleague, Horst Faas.

— The Associated Press

By Nick Ut

Horst Faas with Nick Ut

May 12, 2012: Horst Faas embraces colleague Nick Ut during a reunion party in Ho Chi Minh city, Thursday, April 28, 2005. Veteran journalists gathered from around the globe in Vietnam to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the end of the war and remember and honor colleagues who had died. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

The first time I worked with Mr. Horst Faas was in 1966. He was then AP’s chief photographer for Southeast Asia, based in Saigon. He accepted me as an AP photographer, replacing my brother, Huynh Thanh My, an AP photographer who had been killed while on assignment covering the war in Vietnam.

In 1972, when my “Napalm Girl” picture was being edited on the light table, a couple of AP photo editors rejected the picture because the girl was nude. When Faas and correspondent Peter Arnett came back from their lunch, and Faas saw my picture, he asked about it.

“Who got this photo?” he asked. The editor said it was taken by Nick Ut. Faas asked why hadn’t it been sent to New York yet. Why was it still here? He convinced the editors that the photo needed to be sent, just as it was. So the “Napalm Girl” picture was transmitted to AP New York headquarters and the rest of the world. It became the Pulitzer Prize-winning photo for News that year.

Horst Faas was the best boss I ever met. He was kind to everyone. After he retired, he always contacted me by email, always calling me “Son.” He asked me to come visit him in Munich and have a photo show with him. I last spoke to him a month ago, about me coming to visit him in Germany this September. That became my last conversation with him, and I will never see him there.

I am deeply thankful for Mr. Faas. He changed my life twice. He hired me to work for AP, and he selected my picture, and now it is well known. I will never forget this man.

He’s the only Horst Faas.

About nick ut

Nick joined the Associated Press in 1966, when he was 16, following the death of his older brother, Huynh Thanh My, an AP photographer who was killed in combat the year before. Nick himself was wounded three times during his coverage of the war. Since the war ended in 1975, Nick has worked for the Associated Press in Tokyo, South Korea, Hanoi, where he opened the bureau in 1993, and Los Angeles, where he currently resides with his family.

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