FORT MEADE, Md. (WJZ) — Fourth of July brings tragic news for a Fort Meade soldier’s loved ones. Army Specialist Hilda Clayton, 22, was killed this week in Afghanistan.
Vic Carter has more from those who knew her.
Clayton was a member of the Baltimore Nighthawks–an all women football team. Her teammates, who were more like sisters, still can’t believe she’s gone.
“She was just one of those really sweet people that wasn’t worried about the limelight,” a teammate said.
When Clayton wasn’t taking pictures as a military photographer, she was running drills as a rookie with the Baltimore Nighthawks.
The independent women’s football team is made up of strong women, but nothing could prepare the group for the news they received this week.
“It is a shock,” said Coach Tanya Bryan, team owner. “I kept hoping somebody’s going to send a message and say, ‘Oops, sorry. Big mistake.'”
Bryan learned Wednesday. Clayton, who was stationed out of Fort Meade, was killed in a non-combat incident in Afghanistan.
Several Nighthawks have been deployed in the past, but she is the first to not come back.
“I’ve never had someone in my circle or that close to me lose their lives fighting overseas,” said Lil Drumgold, teammate.
Clayton left before playing in her first game, but while deployed, she stayed in constant contact with team members who’d become like family.
“It was special because they were still part of what we were doing. She was just really looking forward to getting back,” Bryan said.
Fourth of July for the Nighthawks now has a new meaning. They hope people really think and remember the soldiers who’ve sacrificed for our freedom.
For them, Clayton wasn’t just another casualty–she was a friend, a sister who cannot be replaced.
“Was just a really genuine, pure soul. And there just aren’t enough people like that,” said Bryan.
Again, Clayton’s death was described as non-combat related. It is currently under investigation.
Clayton was still somewhat of a newlywed. She’s only been married for about a year and a half. Her husband is also in the military.