A stunning picture, taken by US Army combat photographer Hilda I. Clayton as a mortar tube accidentally explodes, has emerged online.
Specialist Hilda Clayton was taking pictures of Afghan soldiers taking part in live-fire training in Qaraghahi in July 2013 when a mortar bomb accidentally exploded, killing her and four others.
The 22-year-old, and an Afghan counterpart, captured the exact moment the mortar exploded, killing them both and three Afghan soldiers involved in the exercise.
The photos were published in the latest issue of the Military Review Journal. The visual information specialist’s death was the first involving an Army combat documentation in the war, according to the website.
“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,” the article accompanying the photos read.
Four Afghan National Army soldiers also died in the blast, including one whom Clayton was training in photojournalism.
Clayton was a member of the Fort Meade, Maryland-based 55th Signal Company, a combat camera unit with a long history of photographing the front lines. She was also the first Army combat filmmaker killed in Afghanistan.
The Afghan soldier is not identified in the article, but his last photo, taken at almost the same moment as Clayton’s, appears below.
In honor of Clayton, her camera unit has named its annual competition the SPC Hilda I. Clayton Best Combat Camera (COMCAM) Competition.