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Army reveals how 2 soldiers were killed in ‘weather incident’

A U.S. Army Ranger instructor explains the technical instructions of rappelling from the 50-foot rock to his left in Dahlonega, Ga., April 13, 2009. (Photo by Master Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo, U.S. Air Force).
August 11, 2022

The U.S. Army identified the two soldiers killed in a “weather-related incident” in northern Georgia on Tuesday and revealed they were struck by a falling tree during a storm.

2nd Lt. Evan Fitzgibbon and Staff Sgt. George Taber died of injuries sustained during a weather-related incident on Tuesday Aug. 9 at Yonah Mountain near Dahlonega, Ga. In an emailed statement to American Military News on Wednesday, a Fort Benning official said Fitzgibbon, Taber and three other soldiers were sheltering during a weather-induced training hold when a tree fell on them around 3:15 p.m. Tuesday.

The five injured soldiers were all transported to a local hospital where Fitzgibbon and Taber were pronounced deceased.

Fitzgibbon, Taber and the three other soldiers were attending Army Ranger School.

Yonah Mountain is located about 70 miles northeast of Atlanta and 170 miles northeast of Fort Benning. Yonah Mountain is the primary training location for the “Mountain Phase” of Ranger training.

“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 on Wednesday. “They are in our thoughts and prayers.”

Fitzgibbon was an Infantry Officer (11A), assigned to the Infantry Basic Officer Leader Course, 199th Leader Brigade at Fort Benning. He commissioned as an officer on May 22, 2021 after graduating from the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY.

Taber was an Army Special Forces Medical Sergeant (18D) with the 7th Special Forces Group, based out of Eglin Air Force Base. He enlisted in the Army on March 14, 2017.

“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 Wednesday. “This loss resonates across our Army and across our nation.”

Local weather forecasts showed thunderstorms in the area on Tuesday.

Less than a month ago, an Army soldier was killed and nine others were injured after a lightning strike at the range on which they were training at Fort Gordon. The Army identified the deceased soldier as 41-year-old Sgt. 1st Class Michael D. Clark, an operating room specialist assigned to 933rd Forward Resuscitative Surgical Company, 3rd Medical Command (Deployment Support).

The deadly lightning strike at Fort Gordon last month is at least the second time U.S. military personnel were injured by lightning this year.

In May, a U.S. Air Force Airman stationed at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas was injured after lightning struck nearby. Base officials said coworkers of the unidentified Airman called for the base’s emergency services immediately after the strike. The Airman was reported conscious when first responders arrived and completed an initial assessment. The Airman was transported to a nearby hospital to undergo further evaluation and treatment.