A pillow fight which takes part every year as a tradition for freshmen at the United States Military Academy has turned bloody. The event which took place on West Point’s campus has left 30 students injured and so far no one has been officially named guilty for the incident.
The cadets were taking part in the proceedings as a way to unwind after a “tough first summer” of training, declared Superintendent Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen Jr.
After “Plebe Summer” which consists of several grueling months of physical and mental instruction, such an event is normally harmless, and it can help students relax and form closer bonds with their peers. Usually, the pillow fight meant to build camaraderie between new cadets is overseen by upperclassmen, who ensure that safety measures are observed and no one is injured.
However, the event, which occurred on August 20, took a turn for the worse when two dozen students suffered concussions and 30 had to receive medical assistance. There were other injuries reported, such as a dislocated shoulder, a cheekbone fracture and a broken nose.
It has been rumored that one cadet was even knocked unconscious during the fight, taken away by an ambulance and hasn’t yet returned back to the academy. However, according to the academy’s spokesperson, Lt. Col. Christopher Kasker, all of those injured eventually resumed their military service, but they will receive follow-up examinations.
A video of the incident was posted on YouTube, and it showed several hundreds of cadets swinging pillows and flinging them around, as chaos ensued in the central quad. It is speculated that some of participants used cases that contained hard objects such as helmets. Normally, these helmets should have been worn as protection against head trauma, but instead they were turned into weapons.
Photographs posted on Twitter afterwards showed students with their faces and pillows covered in blood, and at least one cadet being taken away in an ambulance.
A police investigation has begun, in order to establish how the students were injured and to ensure that those who should be held accountable for the incident are punished accordingly. Meanwhile, some students have been praising the fight in their online comments, viewing the injuries as physical marks of bravery and grit.
“While these spirit events do occur, we never condone any activity that results in intentional harm to a teammate”, cautioned West Point’s superintendent.
Military Academy pillow fights have been a traditional rite of passage since 1897, but until recent years there haven’t been any reports regarding injuries sustained at such events. In 2012, someone put a lockbox in a pillow case, which resulted in the 2013 fight being canceled. Similar violent acts have taken place lately also during freshman events organized at the United States Air Force Academy.
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