It's a jarring image, and that's before learning that the Army photographer who captured it was killed moments later. The photo shows the first instant of a mortar tube explosion during a training exercise in Afghanistan in 2013, a blast that killed 22-year-old Army Spc. Hilda Clayton, reports Time. The explosion also killed the Afghan photographer she'd been training, along with three Afghan soldiers, reports the Army Times. The Army has published final images from both photographers in its journal Military Review. (The feature on Clayton is on the second last page, while an Army press release has the images here.)
A staffer who served with Clayton brought the images to the journal's attention, and they were published with the consent of her family in Augusta, Ga., reports Stars and Stripes. "Not only did Clayton help document activities aimed at shaping and strengthening the (Afghan) partnership but she also shared in the risk by participating in the effort," says the story, adding that Clayton’s death "symbolizes how female soldiers are increasingly exposed to hazardous situations in training and in combat on par with their male counterparts." Clayton was the first "combat documentation and production specialist" killed in Afghanistan, the Army says. Her unit, known as Combat Camera, has created an annual contest in her honor.