Hilda Clayton

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Hilda Clayton
Hilda Clayton.jpg
Born(1991-05-21)May 21, 1991
DiedJuly 2, 2013(2013-07-02) (aged 22)
OccupationU.S. Army combat photographer

Hilda I. Ortiz Clayton (May 21, 1991 – July 2, 2013) was a U.S. Army combat photographer who was killed in 2013 when a mortar exploded during an Afghan training exercise. She captured the explosion that killed her and four Afghan soldiers.[1] She was assigned to the 55th Signal Company (Combat Camera) 21st Signal Brigade, Fort Meade, Maryland.[2]

Early life[edit]

Clayton was born on May 21, 1991 in Augusta, Georgia. She graduated in 2009 from Westside High School in Augusta.[3] Clayton is of Puerto Rican descent.[3]

Military service[edit]

Clayton's photo as the mortar shell exploded.

On July 2, 2013, Clayton, who was then a visual information specialist with 55th Signal Company (Combat Camera), was photographing the training of Afghan National Army soldiers at Jalalabad, Laghman Province, Afghanistan.[4] She was photographing the live firing of a mortar, but the mortar shell exploded while in the launch tube.[5][6] Clayton and an Afghan soldier took pictures at about the same time.

Various sources have been conflicting about who took which picture. Stars and Stripes, Military Review, CBS News and Fox News credit the above photo to Clayton.[1][7][8][9] Daily Mail and Army Times attribute another picture to Clayton.[10][11]

Clayton's photograph was made public in the U.S. Army's Military Review in May 2017 by permission of her family and received widespread press attention from, among others, The New York Times, Time magazine and the BBC.[4][8][12][13]

55th Signal Company named their annual competitive award for combat camera work "The Spc. Hilda I. Clayton Best Combat Camera (COMCAM) Competition" in her honor.[8]


  1. ^ a b Martin, David (May 3, 2017). "Army combat photographer's last picture is of her own death". CBS News. Retrieved May 4, 2017.
  2. ^ Hart, John (May 2, 2017). "Local Army photographer honored nearly four years after death". WJBF. Augusta, Georgia. Retrieved May 4, 2017.
  3. ^ a b "Hilda Clayton's Obituary". The Augusta Chronicle. Retrieved 25 July 2018 – via Legacy.com.
  4. ^ a b Katz, Andrew (2 May 2017). "The Story Behind an Army Combat Photographer's Final Picture". Time. Time Inc. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
  5. ^ Brown, Wesley (4 July 2013). "Official: Training explosion killed Augusta Army photographer". The Augusta Chronicle. Archived from the original on 20 October 2017. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  6. ^ Gardiner, Thomas (3 May 2017). "Army releases Spc. Hilda Clayton's final photographs". The Augusta Chronicle. Archived from the original on 15 August 2017. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  7. ^ Fichtl, Marcus (1 May 2017). "Army releases images of combat photographer's final moments before fatal blast". Stripes.com. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  8. ^ a b c "Spc. Hilda I. Clayton: May 21, 1991 to July 2, 2013". Military Review: The Professional Journal of the U.S. Army. Army University Press. May–June 2017. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  9. ^ Associated Press (3 May 2017). "Army photographer captures her own death in mortar explosion". Fox News. Fox Broadcasting Company. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  10. ^ Blakeley, Kiri (1 May 2017). "The last thing a hero combat photographer saw before she died: Army releases harrowing image of mortar blast that killed 22-year-old". Daily Mail. Associated Newspapers Ltd. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  11. ^ Diamond, Christopher (1 May 2017). "Army releases combat photographer's last photos before fatal explosion". Army Times. Sightline Media Group. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  12. ^ Hauser, Christine (5 May 2017). "A Fatal and Fiery Photograph Reawakens Memories of a Soldier's Life". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
  13. ^ "US photographer captured moment of her death in Afghanistan". BBC News. BBC. 3 May 2017. Retrieved 8 January 2018.