40th Anniversary of “Stripes” This Week; Could ‘Razzle-Dazzle Scene Actually Happen?

As it's the 40th anniversary of the movie Stripes, we asked the former Commander of F.E. Warren AFB if the iconic graduation scene could actually happen.

Jimmy Orr

June 30, 20213 min read

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As movie-goers celebrate the 40th anniversary this week of the Bill Murray classic comedy “Stripes,” some civilians — naively — wonder if any parts of the movie could actually happen in real life.

Like the boot camp graduation scene where perhaps the worst-ever group of soldiers show off the skills they taught themselves after their sergeant was blown up in an unfortunate accident.

The result is a fabulously choreographed dance that the misfits somehow learned overnight. They’re even late to the graduation with their shirts hanging out and loosely buttoned — if buttoned at all — which makes the whole scene more outrageous and memorable.

Is there any chance this could happen in real-life?

The former commander of Cheyenne’s F.E. Warren Air Force Base (or the 90th Wing as it is called) laughed at the notion but was kind enough to address the question.

“Boot camp is hard enough, calling attention to you self is utterly self-destructive, and if you don’t figure that in the first 24 hours, you’re probably going home anyway,” said retired Col. Tucker Fagan.

“However, I’m sure everyone who has gone through boot camp probably had dreams that someone else, not them, would do something crazy,” Fagan said.

The former commander said the soldiers shown in “Stripes” would never get to perform their routine for officers because as soon as something looked askew in the proceedings, the participants would be thrown-out.

“Notice the General and officers are aghast; however every TI (training instructor) on the parade field would be all over them in a second, getting them off the parade field,” he said.

Fagan, however, was impressed with the choreography — although he did note it was unrealistic.

“Notice they all are in step and properly spaced – that takes a lot of training, so they must have practiced; an improbability,” he said.

Fagan said no one would applaud at such a scene for fear of retribution. Further, if the troops actually pulled this off, hell would break loose.

“People there would be like, ‘OMG those guys are in for the worst boot camp you can imagine, the worst will be out of the Army faster than you can turn around,” Fagan said laughing.

The lack of realism — the escapism — is what makes it fun and what makes the movie “Stripes” so endearing to this day.

40 years later, it still holds up.

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Jimmy Orr

Executive Editor

A third-generation Wyomingite, Jimmy Orr is the executive editor and co-founder of Cowboy State Daily.