Eighteen paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division were injured in a lightning strike Wednesday — the second strike lightning strike in eight days to injure soldiers.
The soldiers in Wednesday's incident are from 1st Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team. They were conducting a live-fire exercise on a training range on post when the incident happened, said Master Sgt. Patrick Malone, a spokesman for the 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
By Thursday afternoon, nine paratroopers had been discharged from Womack Army Medical Center and returned to duty, while eight remained at Womack for observation, Malone said.
One soldier was taken to UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill for cardiac monitoring, he said. The soldier was taken there instead of a local civilian hospital because of a lack of bed space, Malone said.
The incident happened about 8:10 p.m. Wednesday, Malone said.
The paratroopers had just completed a live-fire exercise and had gathered to conduct an after-action review of the day's events, he said, adding that a storm had just begun to roll through the area at that time.
When the lightning struck, the soldiers "immediately conducted a lightning strike drill, where they moved from higher ground down to lower ground and spread out," Malone said.
After getting accountability of all 60 soldiers on site, the troop medic began checking soldiers for possible signs or symptoms from the strike, he said.
"The soldiers that were at the range at the time immediately reacted to the lightning strike, and they did what soldiers are trained to do, and that's to check on each other, to ensure that they're OK," Malone said. "We're committed to ensuring the safety of all our paratroopers, whether it's a lightning strike or an airborne operation."
On Aug.13, 40 Ranger School students and four instructors were injured in a lightning strike at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.