In 2013, Hilda Clayton was killed during a training mission in Afghanistan. Her primary role was a combat photographer, and the photos that were captured show an explosion erupting around her and two other soldiers.
She worked as a visual information specialist attached to the 4th Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. “Not only did Clayton help document activities aimed at shaping and strengthening the partnership but she also shared in the risk by participating in the effort,” written from the Military review. Clayton was documenting the drill and training another combat photographer, who also tragically died in the accidental blast. The photos capture the moment that the mortar tube accidentally exploded, killing Clayton and three other Afghan soldiers on July 2, 2013. The image shows, debris in front of an orange haze of flame and a soldier covers his ears from the blast.
After her death, the annual photo contest of the Fort Meade, Md.-based 55th Signal Company named it the SPC Hilda I. Clayton Best Combat Camera Competition in her honor.