Lightning strike leaves 1 soldier dead, 9 injured during a training exercise

Jul 22, 2022, 5:41 AM
A lightning strike during a training exercise killed one soldier and injured 9 others on June 20. (...
A lightning strike during a training exercise killed one soldier and injured 9 others on June 20. (Michael Holahan/USA Today Network)
(Michael Holahan/USA Today Network)

(CNN) — One soldier was killed and nine others were injured when lightning struck during a midmorning military training exercise at Fort Gordon near Augusta, Georgia, on Wednesday, the U.S. Army Reserve Command said.

The soldiers were attending an annual training for medical units to refine their processes and medical skills in the field and stressful environments, the Reserve Command said Thursday in a news release.

Sgt. 1st Class Michael D. Clark, 41, was killed in the strike, the news release said.

Clark was an operating room specialist assigned to the 933rd Forward Resuscitative Surgical Company and a native of Springfield, Massachusetts. He had served in the Army and U.S. Army Reserve for more than 22 years and deployed four times in support of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The nine soldiers who were injured are in good condition, and one has since been released from the hospital, the news release said.

“Sgt. 1st Clark was a loving husband, father, and a Patriot who deeply loved our country,” said Maj. Stephen W. Rhinehart, the company’s commander. “His leadership, knowledge, experience, and love for his fellow Soldiers was immeasurable. Sgt. 1st Clark’s smile and laughter were infectious and always brought joy to everyone around him. Words will never be able to describe how much he will be missed, but his influence on our unit and Soldiers will remain forever.”

Around the time of the strike, a storm was moving through the area from the northwest to the southeast at roughly 45 mph, according to CNN Weather. The temperature was around 80 degrees.

Eleven weather-related deaths in 2021 were attributed to lightning, according to the National Weather Service.

Other soldiers have died during training exercises in the United States this year, including Staff Sgt. Seth Michael Plant, who was killed by a bear in Alaska, and U.S. Army Pfc. Joseph A. Marquez, 20, who died during a vehicle-involved incident in Washington state.

In March, another soldier was killed in an incident involving two helicopters at an airfield at Georgia’s Fort Stewart.

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Lightning strike leaves 1 soldier dead, 9 injured during a training exercise