Sports - Air Force

Nov 1, 2012 1:05 AM by Andy Koen

Six cadets hospitalized after initiation ritual

COLORADO SPRINGS - An unauthorized initiation ritual at the US Air Force Academy seems to have gotten out of hand last week. As part of the practice commonly called First Shirt/First Snow, freshmen cadets will try to throw their First Sergeants into the snow on the day of the first snowfall of the season.

According to an Academy news release issued Wednesday, 27 cadets received medical care and six were sent to the hospital following the October 25 incident. The six who were hospitalized have all been released. Most of the injuries were bruises and minor lacerations.

A video uploaded in 2011 to the website YouTube.com shows dozens male and female cadets trying to wrestle one another to the ground inside a staircase area. When the camera operator moves outside, cadets can be seen throwing snowballs at one another.

Brigadier General Gregory Lengyel, the Commandant of Cadets said in a statement, "A relatively small number of cadets chose to take part in this unsafe activity. This incident was unacceptable."

He continued, "Our Air Force expects better. I expect better, and I'm confident the cadets will learn and grow from this."

General Lengyel also emphasized to the entire cadet wing that good military units set and enforce high standards and maintain good order and discipline, that incidents of this kind are not in accordance with good order and discipline and they are not condoned in the Air Force.

"We teach and practice risk management, where we analyze the risk for all activities, and activities like this are not worth the risk of injury or other serious consequences," Gen. Lengyel said.

Academy officials are investigating the incident and say appropriate measures will be taken.

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