Army Holds Annual Academy Pillow Fight – Well Ain’t That Special? ‘Bless Their Heart’
The annual West Point Academy pillow fight leaves 30 injured, including 24 concussions.
The Marine Corps and Navy certainly have their traditions. And the Air Force, well, they haven’t been around long enough for traditions. But unless a member, some military traditions may seem a bit ah…..odd.
But a pillow fight? For our future military leaders? Really now, that’s embarrassing.
The annual event, meant to build camaraderie and class spirit among the freshmen or ‘plebe’ class resulted in 30 injured freshmen. Reported wounds include concussions, at least one broken leg, a broken nose, a cheekbone fracture and dislocated shoulders.
The August ‘spirit building’ measure turned into a bloody brawl. Academy spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Kasker told reporters the upperclassmen, who are tasked to oversee the annual pillow fight’ had put in place what he called ‘mitigating measures’.
But a YouTube video of the event clearly shows many cadets NOT wearing helmets. Lt. Col 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.”
The pillow fight is held at the end of a 7 month end training period, during which cadets are not supposed to speak to one-another.
Steeped in Tradition
The actual origins of the annual event are a bit sketchy. But there is some evidence the annual pillow fight dates back to 1897. While not officially endorsed by the school, Academy commanders turn a blind eye to the event as a team bonding experience. Academy Superintendent Lt. General Robert L. Caslen, in a statement said,
“There are currently no plans to discontinue the fight, and nobody is currently being punished for causing the injuries.”
A female student who participated in the pillow fight turned brawl said,
“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.”
The injuries say something about the leadership of the upperclassmen. If the mitigating measures had been enforced there’d likely be a lot fewer injured plebes.
A sorority initiation pillow fight is understandable, even desirable. But future Army officers? There is no end to the jokes about military men and women having a pillow fight:
‘As part of the new ‘kinder gentler’ army did they replace a foot race or ball game with pillow fighting?’
‘Army seeks new training weapon. Procurement contract issued to Serta.’
‘Which weighs more, pound of bullets of pound of feathers? Army conducts tests to determine answer.’
‘Biting too hard, Army star running back sidelined rest of season from pillow injury.’
Army commander says, ‘Pugil sticks, pillows, what’s the difference?’
In 2012, a cadet put a lockbox in a pillow case prompting the Academy to cancel the 2013 event.
Academy Superintendent Caslen said,
“While these spirit events do occur, we never condone any activity that results in intentional harm to a teammate. Although the vast majority of the class appears to have maintained the spirit of the event; it is apparent that a few did not.”
“We remain committed to the development of leaders of character. We will continue our investigation, ensure accountability, and reinforce with the Corps that we must all take care of our teammates.”
Lt. General Caslen said he takes full responsibility for the pillow fight.
See the pillow fight here: