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Army identifies Ranger candidates killed by falling tree during Georgia storm

The Hill logo The Hill 8/11/2022 Ellen Mitchell
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The Army has identified the two Ranger candidates killed by a falling tree Tuesday during a training exercise in the north Georgia mountains. 

Staff Sgt. George Taber, 30, and 2nd Lt. Evan Fitzgibbon, 23, died after they were hit by the tree while sheltering from a storm on Yonah Mountain near Dahlonega, Ga., according to an Army statement

Fitzgibbon and Taber, along with three other Ranger candidates, were struck by the tree around 3:15 p.m. “during a weather-induced training hold.”  

All injured personnel were transported to a local hospital, where Fitzgibbon and Taber were later pronounced dead. 

“We are all deeply saddened by the loss of these two outstanding Soldiers and send our heartfelt condolences to their families,” Maj. Gen. Curtis Buzzard, the commanding general of Fort Benning and the Maneuver Center of Excellence, said in the release. “They are in our thoughts and prayers.” 

Yonah Mountain, which sits about 80 miles northeast of Atlanta, is used for training as part of the Army’s grueling, two-month Ranger School.  

Taber, a medical sergeant with the 7th Special Forces Group at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., enlisted in the Army in March 2017, according to the service. 

Fitzgibbon, who was commissioned in May 2021 after graduating from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, was assigned to a training unit at Fort Benning.  

This is the second deadly weather-related incident for Georgia-based soldiers within a month.

Sgt. 1st Class Michael D. Clark was killed and nine others were injured by a lightening strike at Fort Gordon in late July.

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