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Report: West Point Pillow Fight Causes 24 Concussions

  • VOA News

FILE - The 2014 graduating class of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in West Point, N.Y., toss their hats during commencement ceremonies, May 28, 2014.

FILE - The 2014 graduating class of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in West Point, N.Y., toss their hats during commencement ceremonies, May 28, 2014.

A pillow fight last month at the prestigious U.S. Military Academy left 30 cadets injured, including 24 with concussions.

The August 20 incident, first reported Saturday by The New York Times, was described as an annual event that marks the end of a "grueling" summer of training for freshman cadets at the school, also known as West Point — taken from the New York city in which it's located.

The paper said the fight got out of hand when some cadets stuffed pillowcases with hard objects, thought to be helmets.

The academy superintendent, Lt. General Robert Caslen, acknowledged the incident in a written statement later Saturday, saying 24 cadets had been diagnosed with concussions, none of them serious. Other injuries included a broken nose, a dislocated shoulder and a hairline fracture of a cheekbone. The statement did not explain how the injuries were sustained.

Caslen said the pillow fight was intended to build "esprit de corps" among the first-year cadets, known as plebes, and that previous plebe classes have participated in similar events.

He said no one had yet left the academy because of the injuries and that "all participants have been returned to duty." He said a military police investigation was underway.

Earlier, Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Kasker told the Times that upperclassmen took measures to prevent injuries during the pillow fight, including requiring cadets to wear helmets. The newspaper said no cadet had been punished so far.

The report quoted one upperclassman who wrote on the social media forum Yik Yak that "my plebe was knocked unconscious and immediately began fighting when he came to. I was so proud I could cry."

One female first-year student said about the fight and the resulting injuries, "I know it looks weird from the outside, but it really bonds us."

The pillow fights have been an annual event at the U.S. Army's publicly funded academy since at least 1897, but reports of injury have emerged only recently.

The Times said the event was canceled in 2013, after a cadet caused injuries a year earlier by putting a lockbox in a pillowcase.

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