S.C. cadet brawl mirrors one that happened at Fort Gordon

Published: Jan. 18, 2023 at 5:57 PM EST
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FORT JACKSON, S.C. - In a situation similar to what happened at Fort Gordon in October, 15 people were sent to hospitals after a brawl between cadets in a youth program.

Around 5 p.m. Tuesday, a fight broke out as a personal issue and escalated into wider violence between participants in the Job ChalleNGe at the South Carolina Army National Guard’s McCrady Training Center.

While staff responded to the fight, a second scuffle broke out among cadets in the Youth ChalleNGe program.

It’s a lot like what happened Oct. 13, when a brawl shut down the Georgia National Guard’s Youth ChalleNGe Academy at Fort Gordon.

While organizers initially blamed the youths for the brawl, they later admitted that in a rush to meet a new enrollment quota, officials didn’t properly screen recruits for behavioral and mental health problems. Then the small staff failed to control uncooperative and violent youths, an investigation found.

In the South Carolina incident, the National Guard said both fights were contained within an hour, and one staff member and 14 cadets were taken to area hospitals for treatment, then released.

Eight of the cadets are from the Job ChalleNGe program, from ages 16-18, while six are from the Youth ChalleNGe program, their ages range from 15 to 18.

No weapons were found during the fight.

Multiple parents and cadets have to withdraw from the program following the incident.

Organizers shared that the regimented Youth ChalleNGe program is in the acclimation phase which helps cadets change past behaviors and develop life skills, teamwork, anger management, and drug avoidance strategies. The academy is not a youth detention facility but a voluntary program, a Georgia National Guard spokeswoman said.

Staff are conducting a standdown to investigate the handling of the events and to prevent future incidents.