Horst Faas, one of the top photojournalists who covered the Vietnam War, died May 10 in Munich, Germany. He was 79. Faas served as the Associated Press’s chief of photo operations in Saigon from 1962-72. Under his leadership, AP photographers took some of the most riveting and lasting images of the war.
That included Nick Ut’s famed Pulitzer-Prize winning 1972 photo of the young Vietnamese girl burned by napalm, and Eddie Adams’ shot of the ARVN Gen. Loan shooting a Viet Cong suspect in the head on the streets of Saigon during Tet 1968.
Eddie Adams, Faas later wrote, “loved young Nick Ut, whose brother, Huynh Cong La (Thanh My), had died photographing for the AP in 1965. And he admired the art and sensitivity of [the French photographer] Henri Huet, whom he helped to bring over to The AP from UPI in 1965.
“It was these two great photographers and close friends who made me feel like a lottery winner twice over again when I edited their film: Henri Huet with his moving sequence of a wounded medic aiding others wounded in battle (1967) and, of course, Nick Ut and his ‘napalm girl,’ Kim Phuc, in 1972.
“Henri died in 1971 in the flames of a helicopter. Eddie Adams, Henri Huet and Nick Ut wrote our history with perfect, singular newsphotos.”
The German-born Faas himself received the Pulitzer for his Vietnam War coverage, as well as the Overseas Press Club’s Robert Capa Award and other honors. ”I don’t think anyone stayed longer [in Vietnam], took more risks or showed greater devotion to his work and his colleagues,” the late Vietnam War correspondent and author David Halberstam said of Faas. “I think of him as nothing less than a genius.”