The annual first year cadet pillow fight at the renowned West Point military academy is likely to have a new set of rules introduced after this year’s event turned into a bloody brawl.
Thirty cadets were treated for injuries including concussion, dislocated shoulders, wounds, and broken bones, when the annual rite of passage event which is meant to celebrate the end of summer training and classes, and foster class spirit, got out of hand.
An academy spokesman said the annual pillow fight, a tradition which dates back to 1897, went wrong when some cadets reportedly stuffed the helmets they are encouraged to wear inside pillow cases, and beat their classmates with these.
Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Kasker said “West Point applauds the cadets’ desire to build esprit and regrets the injuries to our cadets. We are conducting appropriate investigations into the causes of the injuries.”
Any hope the academy had of keeping the incident under wraps went out the window when some cadets posted the pillow fight on YouTube. Photos of bloodied cadets were also posted on Twitter.
Kasker said upperclassmen who oversee the event require cadets to wear helmets but the posted video shows many did not.
Many cadets were unfazed by the injuries. One female cadet told media that “At first the body count, people were joking about it. My friends were really excited. And right after, when we learned how many people had gotten hurt, everyone felt totally hard-core. I know it looks weird from the outside, but it really bonds us.”
Another first year cadet said he had been told by his upperclassman commander “If you don’t come back with a bloody nose, “you didn’t try hard enough.”
Kasker said there were no plans to end the yearly brawl even though this was not the first year things had gone astray. The 2013 annual pillow fight was cancelled in 2013 after some cadets were injured the previous year when an overzealous cadet put a lockbox in his pillow case.