Sunday 4 December 2016

Watch: US officer training academy bans pillow fights after dozens of injuries, including broken nose and 24 concussions

Published 26/11/2015 | 14:01

America's West Point military academy has banned pillow fights after this year's traditional melee ended with dozens of injuries, broken bones and threats of legal action.

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First-year cadets, nicknamed "plebes", organise the annual night-time pillow fight every August as a way to build camaraderie after a long summer of training for the young men and women destined to become America's military leaders.

But this year the brawl - held on August 20 - caused a broken nose, one fractured cheek and at least 24 concussions.

 Images posted on social media showed cadets packing hard objects inside their pillows - including a helmet - although the army said many injuries were caused by elbows or falls.

An investigation concluded that more senior cadets failed to take proper control as the event spiralled into greater violence.

A number of "plebes" - the nickname for first-year students - said they were hit from behind or when they were not ready.

Many wore body armour, possibly encouraging greater force to be used.

And one cadet broke his nose when a blow from behind sent his helmet rotating forward.

Initially the academy, which is in New York state, took a robust view of the high spirits.

A spokesman for the academy, Lt Col Christopher Kasker, said there were no plans to end the annual pillow fight.

“West Point applauds the cadets’ desire to build esprit and regrets the injuries to our cadets,” he said in September. “We are conducting appropriate investigations into the causes of the injuries."

That changed on Wednesday when the head of the academy said the event had been banned.

"While never officially sanctioned, it is now officially banned, and we will take appropriate action to ensure that all faculty, staff, leaders, the Corps of Cadets and everyone at West Point knows that it will not be tolerated," said Lt Gen Robert Caslen.

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