USAFA Tradition of First Shirt, First Snow Goes Bad. Supposedly.

A variety of websites are now reporting on the injuries US Air Force Academy cadets received during attempts by Four Degrees (freshmen) to drag their Cadet First Sergeants through the first snow of the season.  The decades-old tradition is one of many that generally stay out of the public eye, though YouTube videos and the like have revealed them for years.

While there is apparent shock that “nearly 30 cadets” were injured in some form (including — gasp — bruises) during the devolution to a “brawl,” that injury count probably doesn’t crack the records set during other traditions.  (One tradition was simply called the “hall brawl.”  Clear enough?)  One paper made a thinly-veiled attempt to criticize USAFA by calling the tradition “hazing,” in an apparent effort to connect the event to the politically sensitive issue of hazing in the military that is now officially banned by AFI 1-1.

While most official responses disavowed the tradition and scolded the cadets, the USAFA commandant had an interesting response.  In essence, it might be a teachable moment — that doesn’t have to end the tradition:

In [an email from General Born], Born indicated that while [Commandant of Cadets BrigGen Greg Lengyel] found the brawl unacceptable, he might be amenable to allowing cadets to keep some version of the tradition if they presented him a proposal for how it could be executed with “good order and discipline and proper risk management.”

One cadet was reportedly treated for a human bite mark.  Does that require a rabies shot?

The comments on the Air Force Times article are classic.