The photo taken by an Augusta soldier of an accidental mortar tube explosion that killed her and four others during a live-fire training exercise in 2013 was released this week by the Army journal Military Review.
The photo shows an up-close and grim look at the explosion. It shows soldiers, not yet reacting to the blast, being enveloped in fire and surrounded by rocks and other flying debris.
Spc. Hilda Clayton was a Combat Camera soldier attached to the 4th Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division in eastern Afghanistan. She deployed with the unit from her home unit in Maryland, the 55th Signal Company.
According to Military Review, Clayton was working with an Afghan National Army photojournalist to document the training. She was killed in the explosion along with four Afghan soldiers, including the other photojournalist.
Military Review, the Army’s professional journal, said her efforts came at a critical time in the war when the Afghan soldiers were assuming responsibility for military actions and partnership was crucial.
“Not only did Clayton help document activities aimed at shaping and strengthening the partnership, but she shared in the risk by participating in the effort,” the journal stated.
She was honored for her sacrifice by the Defense Information School, the training center for Combat Camera soldiers, who added her name to the Hall of Heroes. The training center also renamed an annual competition in her honor. The Specialist Hilda I. Clayton Best Combat Camera Competition consists of five days of events testing Combat Camera soldiers on their physical and technical skills, according to Military Review.
Clayton was killed July 2, 2013. She was a 2009 graduate of Westside High School.
(c)2017 The Augusta Chronicle (Augusta, Ga.)
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