A series of lightning strikes injured 17 U.S. Army Ranger School students and two instructors on Wednesday while they were training at Eglin Air Force Base in the Florida Panhandle.
Nine students and two instructors were reportedly still hospitalized Thursday night but according to WLTZ, “11 soldiers from Fort Benning have all been released after being struck by lightning.”
This is the same class—of nearly 165 students — that includes two female candidates participating in the third and final “swamp phase” of Ranger School at Camp Rudder. This is the first Ranger School class to include women. Neither female student was involved in the incident, the local NBC affiliate reported.
When lightning struck the students –who are trying to earn their Ranger tab– they were in the field on the seventh day of a 10-day mission. Nine soldiers were airlifted to Eglin Hospital immediately, according to WSAV.
Initial reports stated that 40 students and four Ranger instructors were evacuated to a local hospital, but many were discharged.
“At the time of the incident, they were conducting lightning-protection protocols when lightning struck nearby,” according to a press release from Fort Benning, Georgia, home of the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade.
“Ranger students and instructors are tough,” said Col. David Fivecoat, commander of the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade. Fivecoat said 31 students returned to training the same night, but continued with increased medical monitoring.