This Combat Photographer Kept Snapping Until Her Last Moment

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Four years ago, Army Spc. Hilda Clayton, a visual information specialist, was snapping photos moments before a live-fire training accident took her life and the lives of four Afghan soldiers in the eastern Afghan area of Qaraghahi.


Taken on July 21, 2013, the photos — published in the May and June edition of the Army’s Military Review journal — show the moment a mortar tube exploded, revealing that Clayton continued to document her surroundings until the very last moment.

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

But more than that, the photos show that she died in the line of duty, fulfilling her mission.

A mortar tube accidentally explodes during an Afghan National Army live-fire training exercise in Laghman province, Afghanistan, July 2, 2013.Army photo by Spc. Hilda Clayton

The blast killed Army Spc. Hilda Clayton, who photographed this image, and four Afghan soldiers.Army photo by Spc. Hilda Clayton

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