Forty Ranger school students and four Ranger school instructors were injured by a lightning strike during a lightning protection protocol training on Wednesday. Nine students and two instructors remained hospitalized overnight to ensure they were okay. Fortunately, no one suffered serious injuries. All 44 soldiers returned to duty on Thursday.
The lightning struck at approximately 4:55 p.m. Central time on Wednesday at Eglin Air Force Base in northern Florida. The students were two-thirds away from completing the last phase of Ranger School, the Florida Phase (also called the Swamp Phase).
The United State Army Ranger School is an extremely rough combat leadership course that lasts for 61 days. There are three phases that must be completed: Fort Benning Phase, Mountain Phase, and Florida Phase (to read more about these phases and what they include, click here). Ranger School is the Army’s most challenging course. The school is assured to test a student’s abilities to focus mentally and physically under extreme conditions. The daily fight to stay awake and go without food for long periods of time is just the beginning of the strenuous situations the students go through. Losing tremendous amounts of weight and ruck marching for almost 15-20 miles a day takes a large toll on the body. Each student, successful or not, returns to their unit as a more experienced Soldier and has become an established leader.
I had my very own experience with Ranger School as my husband, my boyfriend at the time, enrolled in this course. He left October 9, 2011 and passed each phase on the first try. He completed the school and graduated on December 9, 2011. This is also a difficult time on relationships as the only way to communicate with the Ranger is through writing letters, with the exception of quick phone calls at the end of each phase. So not only do the soldiers go through the agony of the phases above, but they also are disconnected from family and friends. As I stated above, each student who attends this course will always come back a stronger person and a great leader.