30 U.S. Air Force cadets injured after large fight breaks out

Military cadet brawl 
By: Anika Rao 

(Scroll down for video) A large fight broke out at a U.S. Air Force Academy, which injured dozens of cadets, according to military officials.

Nearly 30 cadets from the Air Force Academy required medical attention, with six of them hospitalized after an annual tradition to commemorate the first snowfall of the season became a melee that spiraled out of control, military officials said on Wednesday.

An unauthorized ritual last week, called "First Shirt / First Snow," in which first-year cadets try to pull their sergeant cadet into a snow bank, grew violent and resulted in injuries, the academy said in a statement.

"A relatively small number of cadets decided to take part in this unsafe activity," Brig. Gen. Gregory Lengyel said in the statement. "This incident is unacceptable."

The six cadets who were hospitalized after the incident last Thursday, have been released, and the other 21 were treated for bruises and / or lacerations in the cadet clinic at the academy, the school said.

Lengyel, who serves as commander of cadets, said school officials are investigating the incident. "Our Air Force expects better. I'm sure that the cadets will learn and grow from this incident."

An internal email obtained about the incident, apparently written by Brig. Gen. Dana Born to school administrators, said that the annual ritual has become a fight between freshmen and upperclassmen.

"This ritual has become increasingly violent, with a significant number of cadets requiring medical attention in the last two years," adding that the latest injuries included a concussion, a bite to an arm and cuts that required stitches.

"Obviously, this has gotten out of hand and cannot be repeated," Born wrote. "There's no way we can pass or defend it."

Lengyel could allow the tradition to continue if cadets can prove it can be done with "order, discipline and sound risk management."