US & Canada

US photographer captured moment of her death in Afghanistan

The photo taken by Clayton at the moment of her death Image copyright Hilda Clayton
Image caption The photo taken by Clayton at the moment of her death

A photo taken by a US Army camerawoman of the moment she and four Afghans were killed in an explosion has been released by the American military.

Specialist Hilda Clayton, 22, and four Afghan National Army soldiers died when a mortar shell blew up during a training exercise on 2 July 2013.

The US Army also released a photo by an Afghan whom Spc Clayton was training in photojournalism. He was among the dead.

The accident happened in the eastern province of Laghman.

Military Review magazine published the images.

"Clayton's death symbolises how female soldiers are increasingly exposed to hazardous situations in training and in combat on par with their male counterparts," the Army wrote in the edition.

This photo was taken by an Afghan soldier with whom Clayton had partnered to train in photojournalism Image copyright US Army
Image caption This photo was taken by an Afghan soldier whom Clayton was training in photojournalism

The photos were published with the permission of the Clayton family.

The Army said that "not only did Clayton help document activities aimed at shaping and strengthening the [US-Afghan] partnership but she also shared in the risk by participating in the effort."


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The visual information specialist, who was from the US state of Georgia, has had a photography award named in her honour by the Department of Defense.

Military photographers must pass a five-day test of their physical and technical skills to qualify for the Spc Hilda Clayton Best Combat Camera award.

Clayton Image copyright Army
Image caption Clayton was a native of the US state of Georgia
A soldier competes in the 5th annual Hilda Clayton Best Combat Camera Competition in April 2017 Image copyright DVIDS
Image caption A soldier competes in the annual Hilda Clayton Best Combat Camera Competition in April 2017

An Army photographer and others show the inner life of soldiers and explore the human cost of war.

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Media captionThe American faces at war

All pictures copyrighted

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