Shortly after midnight, two members of the South Carolina National Guard were taken to the hospital after being in close proximity to a lightning strike while on duty in Washington D.C., according to the National Guard and D.C. Fire and EMS Department.
"#DCsBravest received a call for a report of 2 military personnel suffering the effects of a nearby lighting strike within the Lafayette Park perimeter,” the department tweeted. Both were transported with non life threatening injuries.”
According to Army Captain Jessica Donnely, Director, South Carolina National Guard Public Affairs the troops were transported to the hospital to address any injuries and are currently in stable condition.
“They will remain at the hospital for 24 hours for observation," she said in a statement to Military Times.
Donnely told Military Times their names will not be released because they are in the hospital. There are about 450 SCNG troops in D.C. for the civil unrest efforts, she said.
The troops are in the nation’s capital as part of a massive effort to help quell unrest in the wake of protests against racism and police brutality in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, a black man who prosecutors say was murdered by a white Minneapolis police officer.
Governors in 33 states and the District of Columbia have activated more than 41,500 National Guard members to assist state and local law enforcement in support of civil unrest operations. The numbers may change as governors assess their needs.
It’s part of the largest activation of National Guard troops in history.
As of Friday morning, 85,000 National Guard soldiers and airmen were activated for domestic operations across the United States, according to the National Guard. That surpasses the roughly 51,000 Guard members who were activated during the 2005 Hurricane Katrina response. There are now more than 110,000 Guard men and women engaged in homeland and overseas missions.
The lightning strike the troops were near was part of a strong storm that swept the region last night.
Howard Altman is an award-winning editor and reporter who was previously the military reporter for the Tampa Bay Times and before that the Tampa Tribune, where he covered USCENTCOM, USSOCOM and SOF writ large among many other topics.