WEST POINT, N.Y. – The annual pillow fight for freshmen at the US Military Academy at West Point turned bloody, leaving 30 cadets injured – 24 with concussions.
At the seemingly innocent pillow fight, numerous freshman cadets called “plebes,” swung pillowcases stuffed with hard objects, including helmets, according to the New York Times.
West Point told The Times among the 30 injured cadets, there was at least one broken bone, dislocated shoulders, and some cadets were knocked unconscious. 24 concussions were reported.
The annual pillow fight marks end of summer training, and has been a tradition at the Academy since at least 1897, according to the Times. According to cadets’ social media, previous years’ pillow fights were just as violent.
A spokesman for the academy, Lt. Col. Christopher Kasker, told the Times the events purpose is to “build camaraderie.” Several cadets told the Times in interviews that they are not allowed to speak to each other prior to the fight.
Kasker said upperclassmen oversaw freshmen and enforced “mitigating measures” to prevent injury. They required cadets to wear helmets, but many did not, as seen in videos uploaded to YouTube of the fight.
The New York Times says that no cadets have been punished, and the Academy has no plans to stop the tradition.