Two soldiers were killed and three Army Ranger candidates were injured after a tree fell on them during a storm Tuesday, Aug. 9, in a training exercise on Yonah Mountain, according to Army officials.
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Second Lt. Evan Fitzgibbon and Staff Sgt. George Taber died after being transported to the hospital.
Along with three Army Ranger candidates, Fitzgibbon and Taber were struck by a falling tree around 3:15 p.m. Tuesday “while sheltering during a weather-induced training hold,” according to a news release by Army officials.
“We are all deeply saddened by the loss of these two outstanding Soldiers and send our heartfelt condolences to their families,” Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning Commanding General Maj. Gen. Curtis A. Buzzard said in a statement. “They are in our thoughts and prayers.”
Fitzgibbon was an infantry officer assigned to the Infantry Basic Officer Leader Course and the 199th Leader Brigade at Fort Benning.
Taber was a Special Forces medical sergeant at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.
“Those who volunteer to attend Ranger School represent the very best of our military,” Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade Commander Col. Christopher C. Hammonds said in a statement. “This loss resonates across our Army and across our nation.”
The Army conducts training on Yonah Mountain including the Ranger School's Mountain Phase. Soldiers who train on the mountain typically will report out of Camp Merrill in the northern part of the state.
This is the second deadly incident involving soldiers stationed in Georgia in the past month. In late July, Sgt. 1st Class Michael D. Clark was killed by a lightning strike at Fort Gordon near Augusta. Nine other soldiers were also injured in the incident.
The Associated Press contributed to this article. DCN is a sister publication to the Gainesville Times and Forsyth County News.