Army releases photo of the blast that killed soldier in Afghanistan


U.S. Army Specialist Hilda Clayton.
U.S. Army Specialist Hilda Clayton.

Nearly four years ago, an accident with a mortar tube took the life of an Army photographer in Afghanistan. This month the Army decided to release the images taken by Specialist Hilda Clayton of the explosion that took the life of Clayton and four Afghan soldiers on July 2, 2013, in the eastern Afghan area of Qaraghahi.

Clayton was a visual information specialist attached to the 4th Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division based at Forward Operating Base Gamberi.

The following photo was published in the May-June edition of the Army’s Military Review journal:

Blast 1
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. Above: The photo taken by one of the Afghan soldiers at the moment of the explosion. Background: The photo was simultaneously taken by Spc. Clayton.

According to the journal’s article, “Clayton’s death symbolizes how female soldiers are increasingly exposed to hazardous situations in training and in combat on par with their male counterparts.”

Since Clayton’s death, her name has been added to the Defense Information School’s (DINFOS) Hall of Heroes. She was furthered honored by Combat Camera, which honored her by naming their annual best combat camera competition after her – the Spc. Hilda I. Clayton Best Combat Camera (COMCAM) Competition.

Clayton’s family and unit approved of the release of the photos, an official from the Army University Press told Stars and Stripes.

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