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Pillow Fight Packs Some Pain, As Some Cadets Play Dirty

ARUN RATH, HOST:

Life is intense for cadets at the Military Academy at West Point. With intense physical training and battle simulations, people can get hurt. And last month, one skirmish left 30 cadets with injuries, including 24 concussions, one report of a broken nose, one dislocated shoulder and lots of scrapes and bruises and blood. What caused the carnage?

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING AND TRUMPET MUSIC)

RATH: Pillows.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING AND TRUMPET MUSIC)

RATH: The plebe pillow fight is an annual tradition, possibly dating back to 1897, according to The New York Times. The event is meant to build espirit de corps among the new classmates. It looks like a scene out of "Braveheart," with swords and shields switched out for pillows and mattresses. Things got out of hand when some cadets apparently added helmets and other hard objects to the pillowcases.

Photos posted on social media revealed smiles and congratulations on the plebs's new reputation as the fiercest pillow regiment of the U.S. Military. Still, West Point commanders are taking discipline very seriously. In a press release, U.S. Military Superintendent Lieutenant General Robert L. Caslen Jr. stated that an investigation into the incident is ongoing to, quote, "ensure accountability and reinforce with the corps that we all must take care of our teammates." All cadets have since been returned to duty, minus their down-stuffed weapons. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Journalist Arun Rath is the new host of the NPR newsmagazine Weekend All Things Considered. The Saturday and Sunday edition has moved its broadcast to the west coast. Rath has had a distinguished career in public media as a reporter, producer and editor, most recently as a senior reporter for the PBS series Frontline and The World® on WGBH Boston. He has also worked for several NPR and public radio programs.
Arun Rath
Beginning in October 2015, Arun Rath assumed a new role as a shared correspondent for NPR and Boston-based public broadcaster WGBH News. He is based in the WGBH newsroom and his time is divided between filing national stories for NPR and local stories for WGBH News.