30 Cadets Injured in All-Out 'Brawl'

Sergeant-tossing ritual leaves 6 hospitalized

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 2, 2012 4:10 PM CDT

(Newser) – An Air Force ritual devolved into an all-out melee last week that left 30 cadets injured and six hospitalized—with concussions, cuts, and an arm bite, NBC News reports. It was all part of the unauthorized "First Shirt/First Snow" ritual, in which cadets toss a sergeant into a snow bank at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. Not too surprisingly, the rite has led to melees and injuries the past couple of years. "Obviously, this has gotten out of hand and cannot be repeated," wrote Brig. Gen. Dana Born to school administrators.

Just how does the ritual turn into a massive melee? When "upperclassmen defending the first sergeant" begin brawling with "the four degrees trying to capture the first sergeant," wrote Born, according to the Air Force Times. But a new commander at the school says he may allow the sergeant-tossing to continue if cadets can do it nicely. "Our Air Force expects better," says Brig. Gen. Greg Lengyel. "I expect better, and I’m confident the cadets will learn and grow from this."

U.S. Air Force Academy Cadets of the Class of 2012, lower their heads during the Invocation at the start of the commencement ceremony, Wednesday, May 23, 2012, in Colorado Springs, Colo.
U.S. Air Force Academy Cadets of the Class of 2012, lower their heads during the Invocation at the start of the commencement ceremony, Wednesday, May 23, 2012, in Colorado Springs, Colo.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
The Air Force Thunderbirds fly over head as graduating cadets celebrate with the hat toss after graduation ceremonies at the Air Force Academy in Colorado, in this May 27, 2009 file photo.
The Air Force Thunderbirds fly over head as graduating cadets celebrate with the "hat toss" after graduation ceremonies at the Air Force Academy in Colorado, in this May 27, 2009 file photo.   (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski, File)
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