Jump to content
308AR.com Community
  • Visit Aero Precision
  • Visit Brownells
  • Visit EuroOptic
  • Visit Site
  • Visit Beachin Tactical
  • Visit Rainier Arms
  • Visit Ballistic Advantage
  • Visit Palmetto State Armory
  • Visit Cabelas
  • Visit Sportsmans Guide

Ranger training deaths


Recommended Posts

Training can suck - training SHOULD suck, as realistically as possible.  Two Ranger students killed by a falling tree in Mountain Phase, Dahlonega, GA, during severe weather. 

Nobody should get killed by Mother Nature, though.  This is a terrible situation.

Two US Army Ranger Candidates Killed During Mountain Phase Training

by Guy McCardle 1 day ago

Remembering the Fallen

“C-130 rollin’ down the strip, Airborne Ranger’s gonna take a little trip. Mission Top Secret destination unknown; he don’t know if he’s ever comin’ home.” – Author’s recollection of a Jody call from many years ago

Everyone knows that military training is dangerous. When we raise our hands to take the oath, we know what can happen. Ranger training can be particularly hazardous; last week, it claimed two more victims.

According to information published by The Hill, two Ranger candidates have been killed during a training exercise in Georgia. Both men, SSG George Taber, 30, and 2LT Evan Fitzgibbon, 23, died after being struck by a falling tree on August 9th on Yonah mountain.

Due to the sudden shift in the weather in the mountainous training area, the National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning from 3:00 PM to 3:45. They warned that wind speeds could reach 60 miles per hour, which could be combined with quarter-sized hail.

A press release from the US Army Maneuver Center of Excellence noted that three other Ranger candidates were non-fatally injured by the same falling tree. This occurred about 3:15 PM local time as the men sought shelter during a training hold necessitated by inclement weather. All of the injured were taken to a nearby hospital, where Fitzgibbon and Taber were pronounced dead.

Major General Curtis A. Buzzard, Commanding General of Fort Benning, told the press, “We are all deeply saddened by the loss of these two outstanding Soldiers and send our heartfelt condolences
to their families. They are in our thoughts and prayers.” 

The Stars and Stripes tells us through Army spokesman Michael Negard that a safety investigation has been launched by a team from the Army Combat Readiness Center at Fort Rucker. This is standard practice in these types of incidents.

The deaths come on the heels of another weather-related training fatality in Georgia. The Washington Times reported on the death of 41-year-old Sergeant First Class Michael D. Clark from a lightning strike on July 22nd, 2022, at Fort Gordon. Eight other soldiers were injured in the storm and required medical attention.

Fitzgibbon and Taber

Evan Fitzgibbon was an 11A Infantry Officer assigned to the Infantry Basic Officer Leader Course (199th Leader Brigade at Fort Benning, GA). He was a 2021 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and was engaged to be married. Following his acceptance into West Point 5 years ago, he told OrangeObserver.com, “I know what to expect, but I don’t know what God has planned for me there. But the main thing that I hope to accomplish is to just be developed into the best leader that I can be.” At the time of his death, he was well on his way.

LT-Taber.jpg?resize=1024%2C787&ssl=1 LT Fitzgibbon is shown here in a photograph taken from his time at West Point. Screenshot from YouTube.

Taber was a Special Forces Medical Sergeant, 18D, assigned to the 7th Special Forces Group at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. He enlisted on March 14th, 2017.

Taber.jpg?resize=817%2C930&ssl=1 SSG Taber was a Special Forces medic, the best of the best. He was from Glen St. Mary, Florida. Screenshot from YouTube.

CNN quoted a 2018 Congressional report looking at deaths in the military. They found that “Since 2006 … a total of 16,652 active-duty personnel and mobilized reservists have died while serving in the US armed forces. Seventy-three percent of these casualties occurred under circumstances unrelated to war.” Anyone who has served can attest to how dangerous training can be. Ideally, we train like we fight.

Past Losses

Unfortunately, deaths during Ranger training are nothing new. In a 1995 incident, as told by Bradley Graham at The Washington Post, four Ranger candidates died during the swamp phase in Florida. The men had been in cold swamp water for almost six hours. That is double the time usually allowed during training. The water was supposed to be roughly knee deep, but due to recent heavy rains, it swelled to about chest to neck deep on the men.

Water temperatures were later reported as being 52°F, and the ambient air temperature hovered around 65°F. Multiple candidates had to be medically evacuated due to hypothermia. Two candidates were flown to a medical treatment facility at Eglin Air Force base, where they died. Dense fog then rolled in, grounding air ambulances. Freezing soldiers had to be carried by litter to the nearest road where they could be taken to the closest civilian hospital. One soldier died shortly after arrival. The fourth loss of life came when a soldier was separated from his platoon while crossing a swamp. His body was recovered the next morning in waist-deep water.

Regarding this latest loss of life, Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade Commander Colonel Christopher C. Hammonds stated, through the official Army press release, that “Those who volunteer to attend Ranger School represent the very best of our military. This loss resonates across our Army and across our nation.” 

Rest in peace, gentlemen. Thank you for your service to our great nation.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

15 hours ago, blue109 said:

What a crappy way to go, after all the work to get to that point. 

On both counts, I agree.  That SF Medic, though.  There's a long training pipeline to make an SF Medic.  What a bad situation.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I hate seeing people killed in training - it always sucks.  

From my side of the fence, training has to be real, or it's worthless.  There are different perspectives on that thought, though.  It all comes down to mission, Command Climate, and unit expectations/task orders.  Nobody expects a state Air National Guard unit to conduct an airfield seizure in a foreign country.  They'd never be able to train for something like that, ever.  Everything in the task order for something like that would be "High Risk Training" for them, and analysis-paralysis would doom a train-up for something like that.  Unit leaders would be terrified, and the "Risk Assessments" (a real thing, mandatory process to go through for every training event), would be a nightmare there.

On the other side of that, EVERYBODY expects 82d Airborne Division to be able to conduct an airfield seizure - THAT is their primary mission above all else.  Sure, it's still all "High Risk Training" - and it's something that they do all the time, train for all the time, and that amount of risk is mitigated/alleviated/accepted - through proper training. 

Two sides of the coin.  Different perspectives, viewed through the lenses of both leadership, and experience.  One unit says, "No WAY!" and the other unit says, "Really?  Again?  We just did this drill yesterday..." 

Depending on what the unit mission is, the training level of the soldiers is, the readiness level is...  "High Risk Training" can often be "what we do everyday."  There can be a point when what you do everyday IS "High Risk," and all training becomes mundane.  Accidents can happen from that attitude.  The more you do it, the more you perform it, the more proficient you are - you do it every single day - the chance that you can let safety slide increases.  And that's when the accident strikes.  And people can die because of it. 

I did numerous tours in Korea.  I always ran the weapons qualifications ranges, quarterly.  It was easy.  I was always briefed on "You have to make sure of..."  Whatever.  Let me write my OPORD, I'll include the Risk Assessment, I'll brief Bn Staff - then start asking me questions.  Once I ran a quarterly assigned-weapons qual, that next month, I had to run the Heavy Weapons qual.  And on and on it went.  I ran all the weapons ranges over there, for the units I was in.  Most of the people that had to shoot, only got to qual once a year - based on last qual date before coming to Korea, the ranges had to be quarterly.  Base Defense assignees, some of those guys had never seen a 240 machine gun before, or a M2 .50 Cal, or a M249 SAW.  Ever.  Now, they're assigned as a "machine-gunner."    That scared leadership in an Intel unit. 

But, back in the states, I'd be on a weapons range once a week.  Different guns, different week.  If we went more than a month, not shooting something, then it was only because we had a different training focus at the time, that was a longer-term training cycle.  It's just different perspectives.... 

For both of these guys that died because a tree fell on them, in a crazy storm, that just sucks, so bad I can't even fathom it.  There's nothing that you can do to mitigate that risk, assume that risk, do any kind of pretraining to minimize that risk - of a tree falling on you in a major storm.  It completely sucks.

I'll tell you what both these guys already had ingrained in their memory, and hardwired into them, at this point in the training cycle that they were going through, and it's this:

Recognizing that I volunteered as a Ranger, fully knowing the hazards of my chosen profession, I will always endeavor to uphold the prestige, honor, and high esprit de corps of the Rangers.

Acknowledging the fact that a Ranger is a more elite Soldier who arrives at the cutting edge of battle by land, sea, or air, I accept the fact that as a Ranger my country expects me to move further, faster and fight harder than any other Soldier.

Never shall I fail my comrades. I will always keep myself mentally alert, physically strong and morally straight and I will shoulder more than my share of the task whatever it may be, one-hundred-percent and then some.

Gallantly will I show the world that I am a specially selected and well-trained Soldier. My courtesy to superior officers, neatness of dress and care of equipment shall set the example for others to follow.

Energetically will I meet the enemies of my country. I shall defeat them on the field of battle for I am better trained and will fight with all my might. Surrender is not a Ranger word. I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy and under no circumstances will I ever embarrass my country.

Readily will I display the intestinal fortitude required to fight on to the Ranger objective and complete the mission though I be the lone survivor.

Rangers lead the way!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...