Drafted in 1971, we were bussed from Detroit to a barracks complex at Fort Knox, Ky., which served as home during basic training. Some 30 years later while on a business trip in Kentucky, I decided to see if I could locate my old barracks. Using my unit number A-17-5 as well as some visual reference points, I located the complex, which coincidently was in the process of being torn down.
Talking to a worker, I explained my interest in the area. He asked if I knew that these barracks were famous, then related that they had been used as the location site for the movie “Stripes.” Returning home, I watched the film and there, frozen in celluloid, were the two-story wood barracks we had occupied during basic. When the recruits led by Bill Murray performed their basic training graduation routine, I recognized the tarmac where we took calisthenics. My curiosity piqued, I rented a James Bond video and watched as Auric Goldfinger’s all-girl air wing flew over the same barracks during the film’s climatic scene. So thanks to the Army, a lowly draftee was able to walk in the shadow of Hollywood luminaries such as Bill Murray, John Candy, Harold Ramis and Warren Oates, albeit separated by almost 30 years of time. Unfortunately, I can’t claim I managed to rub shoulders with the Goldfinger girls.
For the 50 years of guys who passed through those barracks, even though they were leveled in 1999, a single building was salvaged and can be viewed at Fort Knox’s Patton Museum.