Soldier tried to identify himself as a "weak swimmer" before drowning at River Ranger School (2023)

Cpl. James A. RequenezHe was a powerful player, known for his selflessness and for putting most of his weight on ruck marches.

But before you cross a river duringforest ranger schoolLast stint in Florida in March 2021, he exercised a rare moment of personal concern, according to witness statements taken after his death by drowning obtained by Army Times.

Before Requenz's class began their final field exercise, instructors asked which students were "weak swimmers," a label that provides additional safety considerations. Requenz raised his hand.

However, an instructor told the 28-year-old member of3e bataljon, 75e Ranger-regiment, who must have been identified as a weak swimmer during the early stages of the course in Georgia, three witnesses said. Requenz also passed thewater survival assessmentthere, so it wouldn't carry the Florida label.

But one student said in his statement that Requenz was not a good swimmer. The two had spoken before and Requenz didn't want to take that water test again, which involves swimming with a rifle and a cargo vest. But Requenz's concerns were not further expressed.

On the day of the river crossing, he even offered to carry his team's M240 machine gun, although he had never carried it across a rope bridge before. The Ranger school policy states that any student who is a weak swimmer should not wear any special equipment and also carry a chemical light stick for identification.

“He voluntarily took the 240 that day and seemed fine through the swamp,” reads a testimony from a fellow intern. "He uttered no struggle."

Requenes' drowning death during the ensuing river crossing was investigated by the U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center. Witness statements and an incident report were obtained by the Army Times at the request of the Freedom of Information Act.

There were three recommendations included in the report, all of which have been redacted. Requenz's wife was told that a course change would involve the use of life jackets under instructors.

"The two instructors who tried to help my husband got tired," Nieves Requenez told the Army Times. "They think they could have helped a little more with the life jackets because then they wouldn't have lost a lot of energy."

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Soldier tried to identify himself as a "weak swimmer" before drowning at River Ranger School (1)

On the eighth day of the field exercise, March 25, 2021, the students were instructed to move through a swamp and river by Zodiac boat before engaging a target. They reached the river at sunset, around 6:20 PM.

The current was stronger than expected. After two students who were good swimmers tied the rope, the instructors sent a student who had previously been identified as a weak swimmer. Everything seemed to go well.

But another M240 gunner that day, whose name has been removed from the investigation, said in his testimony that the rope was "quite slack" on the bridge, making it difficult to cross.

The anonymous student struggled when he got to the middle of the path because he couldn't lie down and push the rope, as the students were told, without filling himself with water. Instead, he let go of the rope and began to swim.

He lost control of his M240's towline while swimming. When he reached the riverbank, he tried to warn the instructors that he had accidentally left his rifle on the rope, but they told him to stay alert because they had something more pressing to deal with: the incoming M240 gunner, Requenez, had difficulty holding the line. head. above the water.

Instructors trained him from the riverbank to calm down and lie down, allowing his backpack to serve as a flotation device, the study said. Safety swimmers came out to help him out of his ruck, but he kept rolling and Requenz couldn't get him under control. At some point in the fight, Requenz sank and his team lost track of him.

An instructor followed the rope underwater. He felt the picatinny rail of an M240, but nothing else, according to his testimony. The team began removing the rope so that a lifeboat could cross and search downriver in case Requenez was gone.

Soldier tried to identify himself as a "weak swimmer" before drowning at River Ranger School (2)

But when the soldiers pulled the rope to the river bank, they felt a considerable weight. An unresponsive Requenz was still attached to his swimmer's safety line, along with the other M240, according to the investigation.

Medics gave Requenz CPR as the lifeboat made its way down the river a mile to an ambulance, which took him to a helicopter. From there he was airlifted to Eglin Air Force Base Hospital.

Requenz arrived around 7:00 PM. and was pronounced dead a short time later by the attending physician.

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Investigators could not say for sure what role the two M240s on the rope played in the drowning accident, Requenez's wife said. But they told him that the machine guns crushed the rope, flooded it and made it difficult to handle.

Commander of the Ranger Training Brigade, Colonel Antwan Dunmyer, said in a statement to the Army Times that "improvements have been made to the Florida phase to increase field security and prevent future incidents."

The command declined to comment on what those changes were.

"In order to provide the most realistic combat training, the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade does not discuss all training details publicly," Dunmyer's statement read. "Our commitment remains to provide the most disciplined and well-trained ranger instructors and the most realistic training environment to develop future combat-ready leaders."

Requenz had not yet graduated from Ranger School, a leadership course available to all soldiers, but he had already been selected and assigned to the Ranger Regiment, a special operations unit known for direct action raids.

His wife never knew he was a bad swimmer, but ranger school takes its toll on the body. Students are sleep deprived and exhausted on the field. The extra weight on the rope and the river's strong current likely contributed to the concerns that had led Requenez to identify himself as a weak swimmer days before.

"I feel like [students] should be able to identify as weak swimmers at any time," Nieves told Army Times. "My husband was always aware of how strong water really is, and he always told me not to underestimate it."


Kyle Rempfer was an editor and reporter covering combat operations, criminal cases, foreign military aid, and training casualties. Prior to entering journalism, Kyle served in the US Air Force Special Tactics and deployed to Paktika Province, Afghanistan and Baghdad, Iraq in 2014.


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Soldier tried to identify himself as a "weak swimmer" before drowning at River Ranger School? ›

However, an instructor told the 28-year-old member of 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment

75th Ranger Regiment
The 75th Ranger Regiment, also known as Army Rangers, is the U.S. Army's premier light infantry unit and special operations force within the United States Army Special Operations Command. › wiki › 75th_Ranger_Regiment
, that he had to have been identified as a weak swimmer during the initial phase of the course in Georgia, three witnesses said. Requenez also passed the water survival assessment there, so he would not carry the label in Florida.

How many have died at Ranger School? ›

Ranger training deaths

Deaths have occurred during Ranger Training. In the winter of 1977, two students in class 2-77 died of hypothermia while on patrol in the Florida swamp. In 1985, in the Swamp phase, a soldier drowned crossing a stream against a strong current.

Who was the Green Beret killed in Ranger school? ›

Green Beret and West Point Grad Killed in Severe Storm at Ranger School. The Army said Staff Sgt. George Taber and 2nd Lt. Evan Fitzgibbon were both killed when a tree fell on them during a windstorm at Yonah Mountain near Dahlonega, Georgia, the home of Ranger School's Mountain Phase.

Who were the two Army Ranger cadets killed by falling tree in Georgia? ›

- The U.S. Army identified two soldiers killed by a falling tree on Tuesday in north Georgia. Officials said Army Ranger candidates 2nd Lt. Evan Fitzgibbon and Staff Sgt. George Taber died during a weather-induced training hold at Yonah Mountain outside of Dahlonega.

How much does the Ranger school ruck weight? ›

Six-mile ruck march with a 35-pound rucksack and weapon in less than one hour, 30 minutes.

Is Ranger School harder than Navy SEALs? ›

While the route to SEALs training is more direct than for the Rangers, each training is more intensive. To be considered for SEALs training, candidates must meet a series of strict physical criteria and pass several tests.

Is Ranger School harder than Marines? ›

Army Rangers go through much more of an in-depth and grueling training process than that of your average Marine, such as SERE, Pathfinder, Air Assault, Airborne, and so forth. In order to join this elite fighting force, you must volunteer for the Rangers and complete airborne training.

What Army Ranger has the most kills? ›

Nicholas Irving is better known as The Reaper, an Army Ranger sniper and machine gunner with 33 kills in a single deployment and an unconfirmed kill total that could easily be into triple digits. But Irving, now 30 and retired from the military, has been haunted by nightmares from the day of his first kill.

What is the pass rate for Ranger School? ›

BLUF: After initial course prerequisites are verified, we have an ̴80% graduation rate.

Why is the Ranger beret tan? ›

The distinctive headgear of the 75th Ranger Regiment is the tan beret. The beret is a mark of distinction that brands the wearer as a proven warrior. The tan color is reminiscent of the leather caps worn by the original rangers of American heritage and lore.

What Army Ranger was killed by a tree? ›

Evan Fitzgibbon, 23, died after they were hit by the tree while sheltering from a storm on Yonah Mountain near Dahlonega, Ga., according to an Army statement. Fitzgibbon and Taber, along with three other Ranger candidates, were struck by the tree around 3:15 p.m. “during a weather-induced training hold.”

Were Fort Benning soldiers killed in the weather? ›

A weather-related incident has left two Fort Benning-based soldiers dead and three others hurt in Georgia, the U.S. Army said Tuesday. According to WSB-TV, Army officials said the incident occurred at Yonah Mountain near Dahlonega, in the northern part of the state.

Who were the two soldiers killed by falling tree? ›

George Taber and 2nd Lt. Evan Fitzgibbon died Tuesday after they were struck by a falling tree while sheltering during “a weather-induced training hold,” Army officials at Fort Benning said in a news release.

How heavy is an empty Army ruck? ›

A Service Member's ruck sack weighs about 45 pounds without water!!!! If you're joining us in person or virtually, and want to get some tips on how to pack your ruck properly, and/or what typically goes into a ruck sack, here's a tutorial to help you out!

What is the max weight to ruck with? ›

Our recommendation for most people is to start with 20 lbs of weight for rucking, progress in increments of ~10 lbs, and ultimately max out at ⅓ of your bodyweight. It's more important to keep proper form while rucking than to have more weight.

What is the height limit for the Army Rangers? ›

The ideal height requirement for men in the military is between 60-80 inches / 152-203 cm. Anyone above or below this requirement is likely to get rejected.

Is Ranger school harder than Green Beret? ›

While both of these units are highly elite in their own right, the amount of specialized training it takes to be a Ranger is less than what it takes to be a Green Beret.

Who trains harder Navy SEALs or Marines? ›

Yes. Navy SEAL training is more difficult than Marine training. There is quite a difference in the Navy SEAL completion rate from the Marines. Marines complete their 13-week boot camp training at a success rate of 85%, roughly three times higher than the success rate of seals.

What is the hardest military class to get into? ›

There's a great argument that the Marine Corps has the hardest military training of anyone, and here's why. Of course, when you reach the top, you can find them becoming SEALs or a part of the Marine Raider Regiment (MRR), but the training of any Marine is some of the hardest military training in the world.

What is the Marine equivalent to Army Rangers? ›

The Marine Raider Regiment (MRR), formerly known as the Marine Special Operations Regiment (MSOR), is a special operations force of the United States Marine Corps, which is a part of Marine Corps Special Operations Command (MARSOC).

Is Army Ranger equivalent to Navy SEAL? ›

Navy Seals. The difference between Army Rangers and Navy Seals is that Army Rangers is an elite military unit within the United States Army, while Navy Seals is an elite military unit within the United States Navy. Army Rangers are a unit of elite soldiers in the US military.

What is the hardest military branch boot camp? ›

#1. US Marine Corps. The Marine Corps' boot camp length is 13 weeks. Also, the 13 weeks of boot camp break down into four different phases.

What is the most elite Ranger unit? ›

The 75th Ranger Regiment is the U.S. Army's premier large-scale special operations force, and it is made up of some of the most elite Soldiers in the world.

What is the most confirmed kills by a soldier? ›

Charles Benjamin "Chuck" Mawhinney (born 1949) is a former United States Marine who holds the Corps' record for the most confirmed sniper kills, having recorded 103 confirmed kills and 216 probable kills in 16 months during the Vietnam War.

What is the deadliest soldiers? ›

MARCOS, India. The abbreviation MARCOS stands for Marine Commandos. Indian MARCOS are one of the most lethal Special Forces in the world. They are trained in HALO and HAHO and are armed with the greatest assault guns, sniper rifles, and real-time battle equipment.

How many hours of sleep do you get in Ranger School? ›

Sleep During Training

Even on the weekends, when they're encouraged to sleep more, they still get fewer than seven hours. Those in Ranger School only get around three hours per night.

How many people pass Ranger School on the first try? ›

The U.S. Army Ranger School is an extreme, 62-day combat leadership course focused on small-unit tactics. The course typically starts with 4,000 candidates from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, and only about 50 percent will graduate.

How hard is Ranger School really? ›

Ranger School is arguably the most difficult training course the Army has to offer. The combination of academic stress, from the requirement to pass leadership practical tests, the strenuous physical demands of the training, and the grueling lack of food and sleep, the course is truly a "beast."

What is the failure rate of Army Ranger school? ›

BLUF: After initial course prerequisites are verified, we have an ̴80% graduation rate.

How many people died in the 75th Ranger Regiment? ›

The 75th Ranger Regiment casualties by survival (A) and theater of operation (B) between October 1, 2001, and March 31, 2010. OIF indicates Operation Iraqi Freedom; OEF, Operation Enduring Freedom. Of the 419 casualties incurred, 32 (8%) died and 387 (92%) lived; 239 (57%) occurred in OIF and 180 (43%) occurred in OEF.

What is the fail rate for Ranger School? ›

Army Ranger School is a 62-day training course with three phases: Fort Benning, Mountain, and Swamp. Each of these phases is designed to train candidates to exhaustion. The Ranger School attrition rate is high, with a 42% pass and a 58% fail rate. Army Ranger School Requirements can be found at


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