Forty Army Ranger students and four instructors were struck by lightning as they were undergoing a training exercise about how to protect themselves from lightning bolts during thunderstorms, said U.S. army officials Thursday.
Lightnings bolts struck the 44 individuals in a storm Wednesday afternoon while they were at the Eglin Air Force Base in north Florida.
They were all immediately taken to a local hospital, where 17 students and three instructors remained overnight for observation. The rest were treated and released, said the army in a statement.
“The Ranger students and instructors reacted and got everyone proper medical care quickly,” said Col. David Fivecoat, Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade commander.
“Ranger students and instructors are tough,” added Fivecoat. “31 students will return to training tonight (Thursday) and continue with increased medical monitoring as they try to earn their Ranger tab."
At the time of the strike, the Ranger students were in day seven of a 10-day intense training cycle.
Army Rangers are part of a specialty unit of rapidly deployable troops trained for extreme terrain – such as mountain, desert and swamp – and often for special operation targets. At the time of the lighting strike, the group was in the swamp phase training for waterborne operations.