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2 soldiers killed, 3 injured by fallen tree in Georgia, Army says

Army officials have released the names of two soldiers based out of Fort Benning, Georgia, who were killed Tuesday after being struck by a falling tree during training. 

The victims were identified Wednesday as 2nd Lt. Evan Fitzgibbon and Staff Sgt. George Taber, the U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence reports. Three other soldiers were injured. 

Officials had previously called their cause of death a "weather-related incident." According to a release from the Maneuver Center of Excellence, Taber, Fitzgibbon and three others were sheltering in place on Yonah Mountain during a "weather-induced training hold" when they were struck by the tree. Yonah Mountain is located in northeast Georgia, about 170 miles northeast of Fort Benning. 

Fitzgibbon was an infantry officer commissioned at West Point in 2021. Taber was a Special Forces medical sergeant who enlisted in 2017. 

"We are all deeply saddened by the loss of these two outstanding soldiers and send our heartfelt condolences to their families," Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning Commanding General Maj. Gen. Curtis A. Buzzard said. "They are in our thoughts and prayers."

An Army spokesperson told CBS affiliate WMAZ-TV that the soldiers were taking part in a Maneuver Center of Excellence training program at Yonah Mountain when the incident occurred. 

The injured soldiers were treated by Army personnel before being transported to a hospital. Their conditions were not immediately available.

The Army conducts training on Yonah Mountain, which includes the Ranger School's Mountain Phase. Soldiers who train on the mountain typically will report out of Camp Merrill in the northern part of the state. 

"Those who volunteer to attend Ranger School represent the very best of our military," Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade Commander Col. Christopher C. Hammonds said. "This loss resonates across our Army and across our nation."

This is the second deadly incident involving soldiers stationed in Georgia 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. Fort Gordon is located just west of Augusta. 

The gate at Fort Benning in Georgia. John D. Helms/Maneuver Center of Excellence Public Affairs Office
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