Factual error: Then, as now, every recruit reporting to boot camp would be tested for illegal drugs, first by a urine test and then by a broad spectrum blood test in the case of a positive result. There is no reason for Elmo to try to hide his stash when the recruits are told they are to be tested - he is going to come up positive anyway. He may as well just say he has changed his mind and walk away. He is entitled to do that any time up to ten days after he signed on, and it happened a lot in real life!

Upvote valid corrections to help move entries into the corrections section.

Suggested correction: Those drug tests didn't exist in 81.

Did you watch the film? The recruits are told they are about to take a broad spectrum drug test - not they are going to be searched for drugs, they are going to tested for the presence of illegal drugs in their systems. As has been pointed out such drug tests were mandatory at the time the film is set but that is not important - in the context of the film Elmo's action make no sense as he is going to be tested for drugs. Hiding his stash makes no sense at all as it will not solve his immediate problem. The posting is correct and the correction is nonsensical.

What specific drug tests didn't exist? Nixon directed a military drug urinalysis program in 1971 and the DoD started random drug testing in 1974 (not that testing deterred drug use).


I enlisted in 1982. I got a single drug test at the meps and didn't get tested again during an entire 3 year enlistment. In fact, I didn't receive a drug test until 2 years into my second enlistment. The military just wasn't as strict on drug testing.


Drug testing of recruits commenced in the United States on a trial basis in 1975 and became compulsory in 1977. In 1981 every single volunteer would have to take a broad spectrum drug test before being allowed to start boot camp.

Factual error: Even in the '80s obesity was a strict disqualification for military service. John Candy wouldn't have had a chance of passing the required medical.

Factual error: When the guys get their haircuts, Ox's and Cruiser's haircuts are the only ones that even come close to basic training regulation.

William Bergquist

Factual error: After Sergeant Hulka escapes from the Czech border crossing, he puts out a distress call on the radio that is heard by the protagonists. In it, he says he is with the "41st Armored Division, Bravo Company," which is good enough for the heroes to identify him. But divisions are divided into brigades, which are divided into battalions, which are then divided into companies, so in the "41st Armored Division" there would be literally dozens of companies (or, more likely, "troops, " since it is an armor formation) designated "Bravo."

Factual error: When the men are practicing for graduation they are using M1 rifles. The army had already switched to the M16 long before the 80s.

Factual error: Basic training platoons are assigned two or three drill sergeants. An injury to one drill instructor does not mean the platoon would finish training on its own.


Factual error: At the graduation, the MP's are wearing the National Defense Service Medal. This is authorized for active duty during times when "national emergency" has been declared during times of conflict. It was awarded for service during the Vietnam war, ending in 1974, and not awarded again until the Gulf War in 1990. To wear it, the women would have had to been in the service in 1974, which would mean they've got at least 6 years of service by the time the movie came out. On their class A uniforms, they aren't wearing any service stripes, meaning they've been in for less than 3 years.


Factual error: The Czechoslovakian Border Guards are armed with what appears to be an Uzi submachine gun fitted with a stock. Soviet Bloc countries didn't use foreign firearms. The guards would have had Vz 58's which are visually identical to AK-47's.

Factual error: SFC Hulka was assigned as a Drill Sergeant and is therefore authorized for the Drill Sergeant ID badge which may be worn for the duration of his career. It is missing from his dress uniform in Europe.

Factual error: During basic training, civilian clothes are locked up in a storage room; therefore, none of the troops would have access to them.


Factual error: It is highly unlikely that junior enlistees would have clearance or access to a TOP SECRET manual for the Urban Assault Vehicle. Also, the manual shows "WAR DEPARTMENT" on the cover. The correct name since 1947 was the Department of Defense.

Factual error: The German license plate on the car parked at the "Schloss Hotel" starts with the letters "WH." This was reserved for Nazi Wehrmacht Herr (Army) vehicles and was discontinued in 1945. In addition, there is no hyphen (Bindestrich) separating the letters from the numbers. There is also no circular inspection / tax stamp sticker on the plate.

Factual error: Stillman's aide is wearing his hat indoors. Soldiers do not wear head gear indoors unless they are armed.

Factual error: Francis "Psycho" points a knife at Winger. Weapons of any kind are absolutely prohibited in basic training. Granted he could've smuggled it in, but it most likely wouldn't make it past the shakedown part when arriving at basic. The Army and Marines prohibit weapons of any kind in basic training.


Factual error: A couple of issues with military awards as seen in the film: First, Sergeant Hulka is wearing the WWII Victory Medal, which he would not be eligible for according to his self-stated time in service (28 years, making his date of enlistment sometime in the early 1950s since the film is set in the early 1980s). Second, Captain Stillman wears the United Nations Service Medal for Korea, even though he is obviously far too young to have fought in the Korean War. (01:15:43)

Factual error: The mortar round which injures Sergeant Hulka isn't realistic. If it was a training round, its explosive would not have been sufficient to knock down the tower (based on where it lands - near the base of the tower) ; if it was an actual high explosive round, everyone within a 25-meter radius (basically all the recruits) would have been killed or seriously wounded by shrapnel.

Continuity mistake: When Harold Ramis is fighting Bill Murray to try to keep him from leaving the base, notice when Harold is on top of Bill choking him, there is a duffel bag under Bill's head, and in the cut-aways the bag is a few feet away. (00:47:00 - 00:47:45)

More mistakes in Stripes

John Winger: C'mon, it's Czechoslovakia. We zip in, we pick 'em up, we zip right out again. We're not going to Moscow. It's Czechoslovakia. It's like going into Wisconsin.
Russell Ziskey: Well I got the shit kicked out of me in Wisconsin once. Forget it!

More quotes from Stripes

Trivia: The "kitchen utensil" scene between Bill Murray and PJ Soles was completely improvised.

More trivia for Stripes

Question: Given that Sergeant Hulka was only the platoon's drill sergeant, that means his authority should have been done once they graduated from basic training. So why did he turn up in Germany and continue to give them orders?

Gavin Jackson

Chosen answer: According to the movie's premise and plot, once they (the platoon) impressed the brass at graduation and was assigned to the Germany gig with the "EM-50", Sgt. Hulka would naturally be with them as he was their original commanding officer. Plus, it would be logical to suggest that he would personally assign himself the detail of overseeing his platoon as they were his to begin with.


He's assigned as a Drill Sergeant, that is his job. Once he was fully healed he would have been assigned another group of recruits.

Answer: He wanted to make sure that they don't screw up this very important assignment, which they did.

More questions & answers from Stripes

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