U.S. Army authorities have confirmed that two soldiers died during a “weather-related” incident while attending a training program on Yonah Mountain in Georgia. The individuals were 2nd Lt. Evan Fitzgibbon and Staff Sgt. George Taber.
According to officials, the two men were a part of a Ranger School training program at the Maneuver Center of Excellence on August 9. The “weather-induced” training took place on Yonah Mountain near Dahlonega, Georgia.
On Facebook, the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade announced the tragic loss of the two men.
“It is with a heavy heart that we announce the death of 2nd Lt. Evan Fitzgibbon and Staff Sgt. George Taber,” the post read.
According to the Brigade, during the training, a lightning strike caused a tree to fall on five soldiers on Yonah Mountain. Among the five individuals were Fitzgibbon and Taber, who were pronounced dead at the hospital. All three of the remaining soldiers sustained injuries from the weather event. Two saw treatment for non-life-threatening injuries while another remains in stable condition while still receiving medical care.
The Army has yet to name any of the other soldiers present at the weather event.
Previously, the Brigade posted since-removed photos from the training during a “beautiful morning” on Yonah Mountain. In all five of the snapshots, the soldiers appeared in good spirits as they navigated the terrain. It’s unclear just how long after officials took these photos the lightning strike took place.
Community Mourns Loss of Two Soldiers on Yonah Mountain
In order to honor the service and dedication of the two late soldiers, officials shared a bit of their experience and accomplishments in the Army.
“Fitzgibbon was an infantry officer assigned to the Infantry Basic Officer Leader Course, 199th Infantry ‘Leader Brigade’ at Fort Benning, Ga. He was a graduate of West Point – The U.S. Military Academy and commissioned in May 2021,” the post continued. “Taber was a Special Forces Medical Sergeant assigned to the 7th Special Forces Group, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. He had served in the Army since his enlistment in March 2017.”
The Army also extended its condolences to the loved ones who survive Fitzgibbon and Taber.
“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,” Army officials wrote in a press release.
Likewise, fellow Army supporters on Facebook penned their own thoughtful messages in response to the Brigade’s post. Some even struggled to process such an unpredictable loss of the two Ranger trainees.
“Such heartbreaking news. Such an unexpected and tragic event to happen to our best and brightest warriors,” one supporter wrote.
“We wish a speedy recovery to the injured. Condolences to their families,” another shared.