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Military Exercises Claim One Life, Injure Two

July 31, 1986

MARCH AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AP) _ A 21-year-old Ranger was in serious condition today after a ″Gallant Eagle ’86″ demolitions accident that killed one member of the elite Army force and injured another, officials said.

Pfc. Steve Arnold of Marietta, Ga., underwent nearly 12 hours’ surgery on his right hand, which was ″practically, but not quite severed″ in Wednesday’s accident, said John Dwan, spokesman for University Hospital in Salt Lake City.

The desert war games accident killed Pfc. Michael D. Rudess, 19, of Oregon, Ohio, and slightly injured 1st Lt. Burdett Thompson, a military spokesman said.

Thomson was treated at the hospital and discharged, and the cause of the accident is under investigation, said Air Force Maj. John E. Meyer, a spokesman for the combined service group overseeing the exercises.

Details of the accident on the Army’s Dugway Proving Ground, about 90 miles southwest of Salt Lake City, were not available, he said.

The three soldiers were members of a Ranger group, based with the 1st Battalion, 75th Infantry, at Fort Stewart, Ga.

The maneuvers taking place across the Southwest involve 35,000 soldiers of all four armed services who are practicing warfare in a desert environment. The maneuvers began July 25 and end Sunday.

During the 1982 ″Gallant Eagle″ exercises, six paratroopers were killed and 150 injured during a parachute drop in high winds.

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