2 Soldiers Dead After Weather Accident At Site Used For Ranger School Mountain Phase

So you want to be a Ranger?

A Ranger instructor talks a student into a belay position during a two-day exercise at Mount Yonah during the Mountain Phase of Ranger School. Two soldiers were killed and three injured on the mountain Monday, Aug. 9, 2022. US Army photo by Patrick A. Albright.

Patrick Albright/Fort Benning Public Affairs Offi

Two soldiers were killed, and three others were injured in severe weather while training on a north Georgia mountain that is regularly used to teach Army Rangers the basics of fighting over rugged, high-angle terrain.

Northern Georgia news station WRWH quoted local emergency officials in reporting that the soldiers were Rangers and that a tree fell on the group after snapping in high wind on Yonah Mountain. Yonah Mountain is a training area on Camp Frank D. Merrill used during the Mountain Phase of Ranger School. The training area is near Dahlonega, a small town in the Georgia mountains about 60 miles north of Atlanta.

According to Fort Benning scheduling documents, Ranger class 9-22 was scheduled to train under the 5th Ranger Training Battalion, which runs Mountain Phase, beginning Sunday, Aug. 7.

So, you want to be a Ranger?

A Ranger student completes the 200-foot lead climb during the two-day exercise at Mt. Yonah during the Mountain Phase of U.S. Army Ranger School.Army photo by Patrick A. Albright

Patrick Albright/Fort Benning Public Affairs Offi

Army officials did not confirm whether the soldiers were in a Ranger class, saying only that all five soldiers were participating in a training program at the Maneuver Center of Excellence, which is based at Fort Benning and oversees a number training programs, including Ranger School, according to Fox 5 Atlanta.

The incident marked the second time weather had turned deadly for soldiers training in Georgia in less than three weeks. Sgt. 1st Class Michael D. Clark, 41, was killed in a lightning strike at Fort Gordon near Augusta on July 20. Clark was an operating room specialist assigned to 933rd Forward Resuscitative Surgical Company, 3rd Medical Command, according to an Army statement released Thursday. A native of Springfield, Massachusetts, Clark served more than 22 years in the active Army and Reserves, deploying four times to Iraq and Afghanistan.

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Matt White is a senior editor for Coffee or Die Magazine. He was a Pararescueman in the Air Force and the Alaska Air National Guard for eight years and has more than a decade of experience in daily and magazine journalism. He also teaches journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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