Army photographer captures her own death in mortar explosion

U.S Army combat camera photographer Spc. Hilda Clayton took this photo July 2, 2013 that was released by the U.S. Army, that shows an Afghan soldier engulfed in flame as a mortar tube explodes during an Afghan National Army live-fire training exercise in Laghman Province, Afghanistan. The accident killed Clayton and four Afghan National Army soldiers. (Spc. Hilda Clayton/U.S. Army via AP)

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) – The U.S. Army has published the final photo of a combat photographer who captured her own death on camera in an accidental mortar explosion in Afghanistan nearly four years ago.

The photograph of Spc. Hilda Clayton was published this week in Military Review.

Spc. Hilda I. Clayton, 22, was the first combat documentation and production specialist to be killed in Afghanistan. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army)
h to train.

The Army’s professional journal noted that Clayton’s death “symbolizes how female soldiers are increasingly exposed to hazardous situations in training and in combat on par with their male counterparts.”

Clayton snapped the picture during a live-fire training exercise on July 2, 2013 in the Laghman Province, Afghanistan. The blast also killed four Afghan National Army soldiers. One of them was a photojournalist Clayton had partnered with to train.

Clayton, of Augusta, Georgia, was a member of the Fort Meade, Maryland-based 55th Signal Company. She was 22.

Not only did Clayton help document activities aimed at shaping and strengthening the partnership but she also shared in the risk by participating in the effort.

Clayton’s service and sacrifice were recognized during memorial ceremonies at Forward Operating Base Gamberi in 2013.

Combat Camera further honored Clayton by naming the award for the winner of its annual best combat camera competition after her.

A mortar tube accidentally explodes 2 July 2013 during an Afghan National Army (ANA) live-fire training exercise in Laghman Province, Afghanistan. The accident killed U.S. Army Spc. Hilda I. Clayton and four ANA soldiers. (This photo taken by one of the Afghan soldiers at the moment of the explosion.)

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