WEST POINT, NYAccording to an official statement released by the U.S. Military Academy Tuesday, six cadets are dead and 14 wounded after an unsuccessful panty raid on the women's barracks Monday night.
The USMA has not yet released the names of the fallen cadets, but according to the statement, the four male and two female cadets will be posthumously promoted to platoon commander and buried with full military honors.
Company Commander Roger Phillips, a junior at the academy, was among the injured. Currently in a full-body cast, he fell from a third-story window after he was wounded by a bayonet thrust in the tomfoolery.
"A bunch of us were goofing around after lights-out, and we started daring each other to sneak into Bartlett Hall and steal some of the girls' underwear," Phillips said. "I guess, as a result of our training, we just can't help but think strategically. Before we knew it, the whole panty raid had somehow turned into a meticulously planned 16-man undergarment-acquisition mission and reconnaissance force."
According to sources within the academy, male cadets crossed the borders of "women's country" at 2115 hours Monday for a carefully coordinated prank strike on Room 245's personal-underclothes storage facilities. The female cadets, alerted to the coming attack by unsuppressed laughter, were able to put up a solid defense. Before the raiding party reached panty-lock-on range, the female cadets laid down a curtain of machine-gun fire and fell into defensive positions inside their barracks.
"We met with an unexpectedly high level of resistance and spunkiness from the female cadets," Phillips said. "The women engaged us with close-quarters skirmish tactics, and we were forced to drop smoke charges to cover our retreat. We withdrew, pantyless, to an adjoining hall, where we were able to regroup."
"I take full responsibility for the hijinks-related combat fatalities," he added.
Phillips noted that the female cadets' resistance was in the "finest tradition of the service."
The women's accounts confirm Phillips' description of the incident.
"They neutralized our sentry early, through sheer numbers," said Battalion Leader Joanna Russell, who received the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, and 10 demerits for her part in repelling the panty raiders. "But once we had beaten back the first wave with small-arms fire and consolidated our strength around the footlockers, it was only a matter of waiting them out. We knew they'd be back, primarily because they hadn't gotten to the panties yet, but also because they'd left [sophomore] Bernie [Holman] gut-shot and bleeding in the hallway. The boys may be a bunch of immature idiots, but they'd never leave a downed man behind."
After placing a sniper-and-spotter team atop the bunk closest to the door, Russell moved to collect the contested panties and place demolition charges among them, in order to prevent their capture and public display, as per standard enemy procedure.
Before the female cadets could retaliate, West Point administrators were alerted to the strategic prank-in-progress by the sound of artillery being moved into a flanking position along the women's barracks. Administrators quickly put a stop to the panty raid by turning on all the lights.
West Point officials released a statement asserting that "unfortunate situations inevitably arise when the heady experience of college life combines with hundreds of hours of field training in tactics and weapons."
"I do not condone the actions of these cadets, and I assure you that the academy board will officially investigate the matter and assign demerits or extra credit as is appropriate," said Lt. Gen. William J. Lennox Jr., West Point's superintendent. "However, as a graduate myself, I know what it's like to be young, highly trained, and away from home for the first time. These young people are just full of youthful exuberance and superior military know-how."
The incident marks the academy's worst horseplay-related incident since the homecoming float competition before the 2002 Army-Navy game. Three gaily decorated and heavily armed parade floats were destroyed in the pep rally, and the academy's famous library was badly damaged by incendiary shells in the confrontation, which claimed the lives of seven West Point cadets, 14 Naval Academy midshipmen, and the Navy goat.