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Haunting Image by Soldier Killed in Blast Released by Army

Image: Spc. Hilda I. Clayton last image of mortar exploding
An Afghan soldier reacts as a mortar tube accidentally explodes during a live-fire training exercise in Afghanistan on July 2, 2013. Both the solider and Spc. Hilda I. Clayton, who captured the image, were killed in the blast. Spc. Hilda Clayton / U.S. Army via EPA

Army Specialist Hilda Clayton was killed by a mortar explosion in 2013, but the military only just recently released a chilling image she captured in the final moments of her life. The 22-year-old combat photographer was working with members of the Afghanistan National Army when the mortar accidentally exploded.

Image: Spc. Hilda I. Clayton last image of mortar exploding
U.S. Army combat photographer Spc. Hilda I. Clayton U.S. Army via EPA

Her photograph captures an Afghan soldier reacting to the blast during a live-fire training exercise. Four Afghan soldiers were killed in the blast.

The Army defended its decision to release the image, saying "these photographs illustrate the dangers our military men and women face both in training and in combat." Another photo released by the Army shows the same explosion from the vantage point of an Afghan National Army photographer, also killed in the blast. Clayton was training him when the accident occurred.

Image: Afghan Army photojournalist  image of mortar exploding
Afghan soldiers react as a mortar tube accidentally explodes during a training exercise in Afghanistan on July 2, 2013. This image was captured by an Afghan National Army photojournalist who was training with Spc. Hilda Clayton. Afghan National Army / via EPA

Clayton's family and unit approved of the release of the photos, an official from the Army University Press told Military.com.

Clayton was attached to the 4th Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, based at Forward Operating Base Gamberi in eastern Afghanistan.