Lightning Strikes 44 Soldiers and Instructors at Army Ranger School

U.S. Army Soldiers participate in waterborne operations training during the Ranger Course on Camp Rudder on Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Aug. 04, 2015. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Brooks)
U.S. Army Soldiers participate in waterborne operations training during the Ranger Course on Camp Rudder on Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Aug. 04, 2015. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Brooks)

Forty students and four Ranger instructors in the swamp phase of Ranger School were struck by lightning Wednesday afternoon.

All 44 were evacuated to a local hospital, but many were discharged, according to a press release from Fort Benning, Georgia, home of the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade. Eleven soldiers remained hospitalized Thursday afternoon, though all had returned to duty by evening, according to news reports.

“At the time of the incident, they were conducting lightning-protection protocols when lightning struck nearby,” the release states.

This is the same class that includes two female candidates who are participating in the third and final phase of Ranger School at Camp Rudder at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.

All of the lightning-strike victims were males. The group was in day seven of the 10-day training cycle during the so-called “swamp phase.”

"The Ranger students and instructors reacted and got everyone proper medical care quickly," Col. David Fivecoat, commander of the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade, said in the release.

"Ranger students and instructors are tough; 31 students will return to training tonight and continue with increased medical monitoring as they try to earn their Ranger tab,” he added.

--Matthew Cox can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com

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Army Rangers