The brawl occurred Thursday during an unofficial ritual at the Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., called “First Shirt/First Snow,” according to Air Force Times. The ceremony involves throwing cadet first sergeants into the snow. Of late, the ritual has become increasingly violent with many cadets getting injured and requiring medical treatment over the last two years.
The ritual turned into a brawl again this year as 27 cadets were injured during the “First Shirt/First Snow.” Some of the injuries the cadets suffered include concussions, cuts and scrapes that needed stitches. One cadet had a human bite that needed treatment, according to The Associated Press. Dean of Faculty Brig. Gen. Dana Born, in an email that the Air Force Times and the AP received, said, “This ritual has devolved to become increasingly violent, with significant numbers of cadets requiring medical care over the past two years.”
“What used to be four degrees throwing the first shirt into the snow has turned into a brawl between upperclassmen defending the first sergeant and the four degrees trying to capture the first sergeant,” Born said.
According to Born, the brawl was not widespread, although she did not specify how many cadets had participated in the ritual or the subsequent brawl. Some cadets had not participated at all in the ritual.
The new commandant of cadets, Brig. Gen. Greg Lengyel, had already discussed the brawl in two meetings, according to Air Force Times. Lengyel was open to the idea of keeping the ritual going as long as cadets could propose a plan that would make the ritual more manageable and safer.