The two soldiers who died while training on a Georgia mountain range were identified Wednesday as it was revealed they were fatally struck by a falling tree, the Army said.
The two fallen soldiers, 2nd Lt. Evan Fitzgibbon and Staff Sgt. George Taber, and three others were hit by the tree while on the Yonah Mountain, which is north of Atlanta, officials said.
Fitzgibbon and Taber were pronounced dead at the hospital.
Two of the three wounded soldiers were treated with non-life threatening injuries and the other was in stable condition, the Army said.
“Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with the families, friends, and leadership of these two outstanding leaders who unexpectedly lost their lives in the pursuit of excellence,” US Army Fort Benning said in a Facebook post.
Fitzgibbon graduated from West Point and was commissioned in May 2021. He was an infantry officer assigned to the Infantry Basic Officer Leader Course, 199th Infantry “Leader Brigade” at Fort Benning in Georgia.
Tader, who enlisted in the Army in 2017, was a Special Forces Medical Sergeant assigned to the 7th Special Forces Group at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.
They were part of the training program with the Maneuver Center of Excellence.
“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, according to 11 Alive News. “This loss resonates across our Army and across our nation.”
Soldiers were sheltering after their training was delayed due to the weather Tuesday, the Army said, 11 Alive News reported.
“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, the news outlet reported. “They are in our thoughts and prayers.”
This is the second time in as many months soldiers in Georgia have been killed and injured.
In late July, Sgt. 1 Class Michael Clark was killed when he was struck by lightning at Fort Gordon near Augusta while nine other soldiers suffered injuries.