The Charlotte Observer
One soldier died and nine others were injured after lightning struck an Army post in Georgia, according to army officials.
Sgt. 1st Class Michael D. Clark, 41, died after the July 20 strike at Fort Gordon, according to a news release from the U.S. Army Reserve.
“Sgt. 1st Clark was a loving husband, father, and a Patriot who deeply loved our country,” Maj. Stephen W. Rhinehart, commander of the 933rd Forward Resuscitative Surgical Company, said in a statement. “His leadership, knowledge, experience, and love for his fellow Soldiers was immeasurable. Sgt. 1st Clark’s smile and laughter were infectious and always brought joy to everyone around him. Words will never be able to describe how much he will be missed, but his influence on our unit and Soldiers will remain forever.”
The lightning hit a Fort Gordon training area during an exercise for medical units, the release says. The exercise was designed to help units “refine their processes and medical skills in field and stressful environments.”
Of the soldiers who were injured, eight are in good condition, and one has been treated and released.
Clark of Springfield, Massachusetts, served as an operating room specialist assigned to the 933rd Forward Resuscitative Surgical Company. He served in the U.S. Army and the U.S. Army Reserve for more than 22 years and was deployed four times in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“People are our most important asset,” Lt. Gen. Jody Daniels, chief of the Army Reserve and commanding general of the U.S. Army Reserve Command, said in a statement. “Sgt. 1st Class Clark was a valuable member of our Army Reserve team and we are all deeply saddened by his loss.”
An Army service member who identified herself on Facebook as TC Capps posted that she was in a training tent during the lightning strike.
“I heard a loud boom and saw a blast,” she wrote. “I was struck by lightning and knocked unconscious. Have 20% 3rd degree burns and will need surgery, please pray for my buddy that passed away.”
Clark’s death is the seventh known lightning fatality of the year in the U.S. and the second in Georgia, according to the National Lightning Safety Council.
Fort Gordon is an army installation just southwest of Augusta and about 150 miles east of Atlanta.
The United States Army Signal Corps, a branch that manages communications and information systems for the armed forces, and the Cyber Center of Excellence, which focuses on the Army’s cyberspace operations and electronic warfare, are located there, according to Fort Gordon’s website.
Around 80,000 people live at Fort Gordon, including military families, contractors, retirees and others. The population includes around 16,000 service members and 9,000 civilian employees.