44 Army Rangers and instructors struck by lightning at Eglin Air Force Base

While training at Eglin Air Force Base outside of Pensacola, Florida, 40 Army Ranger students and four instructors were struck by lightning at 4:55 pm on Wednesday.

The 44 were all then rushed to a hospital, where 17 remained overnight, according to a press release from Fort Benning.

The class of Army Rangers is the first to include five women, none of whom were affected by the lightning.

“At the time of the incident, they were conducting lightning-protection protocols when lightning struck nearby,” the press release states.

“The Ranger students and instructors reacted and got everyone proper medical care quickly,” said Col. David Fivecoat, of the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade, in the statement. “Ranger students and instructors are tough. [The] students will return to training tonight and continue with increased medical monitoring as they try to earn their Ranger tab.”

The incident occured on the seventh day of a 17 day traning cycle where recruits are trained in swamp conditions on things like boat operation and stream crossings. The students were in the final leg of the gruelling training process recurits undergo to become an Army Ranger.

Army ranger swamp trainingJohn D. Helms via Wikimedia CommonsA U.S. Army Ranger student pulls himself and his combat gear from the water during the rope bridge, small boat and swamp training at Camp Rudder on Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Feb. 15, 2011.

Though it affected an unusually large group, lightning itself is very common in Florida. More people are killed by lighting in Florida than any other state, according to the University of Florida. The entire state is a high-risk area for lightning, seeing 100 storm days a year, compared to 5 storm days in California.

Luckily, all instructors and soldiers have been released, and are expecting to complete training and earn the coveted Ranger tabs.

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