Remembering the Fallen

“C-130 rollin’ down the strip, Airborne Ranger’s gonna take a little trip. Mission Top Secret destination unknown; he don’t know if he’s ever comin’ home.” – Author’s recollection of a Jody call from many years ago

Everyone knows that military training is dangerous. When we raise our hands to take the oath, we know what can happen. Ranger training can be particularly hazardous; last week, it claimed two more victims.

According to information published by The Hill, two Ranger candidates have been killed during a training exercise in Georgia. Both men, SSG George Taber, 30, and 2LT Evan Fitzgibbon, 23, died after being struck by a falling tree on August 9th on Yonah mountain.

Due to the sudden shift in the weather in the mountainous training area, the National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning from 3:00 PM to 3:45. They warned that wind speeds could reach 60 miles per hour, which could be combined with quarter-sized hail.

A press release from the US Army Maneuver Center of Excellence noted that three other Ranger candidates were non-fatally injured by the same falling tree. This occurred about 3:15 PM local time as the men sought shelter during a training hold necessitated by inclement weather. All of the injured were taken to a nearby hospital, where Fitzgibbon and Taber were pronounced dead.

Major General Curtis A. Buzzard, Commanding General of Fort Benning, told the press, “We are all deeply saddened by the loss of these two outstanding Soldiers and send our heartfelt condolences
to their families. They are in our thoughts and prayers.” 

The Stars and Stripes tells us through Army spokesman Michael Negard that a safety investigation has been launched by a team from the Army Combat Readiness Center at Fort Rucker. This is standard practice in these types of incidents.

The deaths come on the heels of another weather-related training fatality in Georgia. The Washington Times reported on the death of 41-year-old Sergeant First Class Michael D. Clark from a lightning strike on July 22nd, 2022, at Fort Gordon. Eight other soldiers were injured in the storm and required medical attention.