Nearly 30 Air Force Academy cadets injured in annual ritual

DENVER Thu Nov 1, 2012 5:57am EDT

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DENVER (Reuters) - Nearly 30 Air Force Academy cadets required medical care, with six of them hospitalized, after an annual tradition to mark the first snowfall of the season turned into an out-of-control melee, school officials said on Wednesday.

An unauthorized ritual last week called "First Shirt/First Snow," in which freshman cadets try to throw their cadet sergeant into a snowbank, grew violent and resulted in injuries, the academy said in a statement.

"A relatively small number of cadets chose to take part in this unsafe activity," said Brigadier General Gregory Lengyel. "This incident was unacceptable."

The six cadets who required hospitalization in last Thursday's incident have all been released, and the 21 others were treated for "bruises and/or lacerations" at the academy's cadet clinic, the school said.

Lengyel, who serves as the commandant of cadets, said school officials are investigating the incident. "Our Air Force expects better. I expect better, and I'm confident the cadets will learn and grow from this."

An internal email about the incident obtained by the Air Force Times newspaper, reportedly written by Brigadier General Dana Born to school administrators, said the annual ritual "has turned into a brawl" between freshmen and upperclassmen.

"This ritual has devolved to become increasingly violent, with significant numbers of cadets requiring medical care over the past two years," The Times cited the email as saying, adding that the latest injuries included concussions, an arm bite and cuts that required stitches.

The Times said the internal memo indicated Lengyel might allow the tradition to continue if cadets can show it can be conducted with "good order and discipline and proper risk management."

Located in Colorado Springs, 60 miles south of Denver, the academy has an enrollment of about 4,100 cadets, and graduates are commissioned first lieutenants in the U.S. Air Force.

(Editing by Steve Gorman and Todd Eastham)

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Comments (7)
JamVee wrote:
This is a military academy, not Harvard. These students are supposed to become Military “warriors” folks. I’m betting that none of the injuries were anywhere near as bad as the average daily injury rate, at any military basic training unit, anywhere. Stop coddling everyone for gods sake. We are trying to turn these kids into WIMPS!

Nov 01, 2012 8:29am EDT  --  Report as abuse
MizT wrote:
I agree with JamVee! I’m sure the things that go on at the Citadel would curl the toes of any average joe. I think someone just didn’t like being the receiver of the tradition here.

Nov 01, 2012 10:50am EDT  --  Report as abuse
littlebigman wrote:
Perhaps the authors can explain their reason for leaving what actually happened out of their lame story.

Nov 01, 2012 10:52am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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