The United States Army has released chilling final photos made by a combat photographer showing an accidental blast during a live-fire training exercise in Afghanistan, in 2013.
The photo shows the exact moment a mortar tube accidently exploded, killing Spc. Hilda I. Clayton and four members of the Afghan National Army participating in the noncombat training exercise in Qaraghahi, Afghanistan.
The photos were published with the permission of Clayton’s family and her army unit and are featured in the latest edition of Military Review in a tribute to the fallen combat camera soldier.
Spc. Hilda L. Clayton, 22, from Augusta, Georgia, was assigned to the 55th (Combat Camera) and the 21st Signal Brigade, Fort Meade, Maryland.
Soldiers belonging to the Combat Camera unit are trained to take photos and video images and are deployed to the front lines to document live combat and military exercises around the world.
“Clayton’s death symbolizes how female soldiers are increasingly exposed to hazardous situations in training and in combat on par with their male counterparts,” Army officials said in a tribute in the latest issue of Military Review journal.
Her service was acknowledged during memorial ceremonies held at Forward Operating Base Gamberi on July 8, 2013, and on Dec. 13, 2013 at the Defense Information School located in Fort Meade Maryland, according to Military Review. Her name was added to the Defense Information School’s Hall of Heroes and her unit has named its annual photo competition the SPC Hilda I. Clayton Best Combat Camera (COMCAM) Competition in her memory.
The tragic accident marked the first death of an Army combat documentation and production specialist in Afghanistan.