Army identifies 2 soldiers killed by falling tree in Georgia

FORT BENNING, Ga. (AP) — The Army identified two soldiers killed during training in the north Georgia mountains as a special forces medical sergeant and a recent West Point graduate.

Staff Sgt. George Taber and 2nd Lt. Evan Fitzgibbon died Tuesday after they were struck by a falling tree while sheltering during “a weather-induced training hold,” Army officials at Fort Benning said in a news release. Three other soldiers were injured and treated at a hospital.

The fatal incident occurred at Yonah Mountain, about 70 miles (112 kilometers) northeast of Atlanta, where the soldiers were taking part in the Army’s grueling Ranger School. The two-month course tests soldiers’ abilities to overcome fatigue, hunger and stress in rugged environments.

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

The Army said Taber was a medical sergeant assigned to the 7th Special Forces Group at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. He enlisted in the military in 2017.

Fitzgibbon was assigned to a training unit at Fort Benning. He was commissioned last year after graduating from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

It was the second deadly incident involving Georgia-based soldiers in the past month. In late July, Sgt. 1st Class Michael D. Clark was killed by a lightning strike at Fort Gordon near Augusta. Nine other soldiers were also injured in the incident.

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