Fort McCoy News September 12, 2014

Installation members attend premiere of 'Fort McCoy'

STORY & PHOTO BY SCOTT T. STURKOL
Public Affairs Staff

Dozens of installation community members took part in the first U.S. showing of the movie, "Fort McCoy," Sept. 3 at Ho-Chunk Cinema in Tomah, Wis.

Photo for movie article
Marcus Theatres Advertising Manager Bret Hoffman holds a replica
prisoner of war uniform like the ones used in the movie "Fort McCoy." The
replica was donated to the Fort McCoy History Center during the
movie's premiere Sept. 3 at the Ho-Chunk Cinema in Tomah, Wis. Fort
McCoy Public Affairs Officer Linda Fournier (center) and actress Kate
Connor, who starred in the movie as well as co-produced and co-directed
the film, are also shown.

"Fort McCoy" is a drama written, co-produced and co-directed by Kate Connor, who also stars in the film, playing her real-life grandmother.

Based on a true story, she shares the experience of her mother's family in the American Army and prisoner of war camp at Fort McCoy in the summer of 1944.

In the movie, Connor's grandparents, Frank and Ruby Stirn, move to Fort McCoy for Frank to become a barber for the American Army, according to a movie press release. Upset that he cannot fight, Frank takes a stand when a Nazi SS officer threatens his wife. The film continues by telling that story and others, representing the family's time at Fort McCoy.

Much of the film was shot at Fort McCoy and in La Crosse, Wis. Connor described why she chose to tell this story of her family.

"This is a true story about my family," said Connor, whose grandparents were at then-Camp McCoy for more than five years in the 1940s. "I heard the stories of my family's time at Fort McCoy from my grandparents as well as my great grandparents. The movie is just a tiny piece of their history here."

In writing the screenplay for the movie, Connor said she put all the family stories she learned together, and decided to have the movie set in the summer of 1944.

"(That) was an impactful summer for us during the war after D-Day happened and turned the tide for us in the war," Connor said.
Connor made visits to Fort McCoy and the local area in preparing her first feature-length movie screenplay.

"Once I had the idea to make it into a movie, I did a solid year of research," Connor said. "I came to Fort McCoy twice, did microfiche research in the area, I interviewed key players, read books and watched documentaries. Then writing the script took me about nine months in-between other projects."

Fort McCoy Public Affairs Officer Linda Fournier, said it was an honor to be one of many people from the post who worked with Connor and the movie production staff.

"It was so exciting to work with Kate and her group," Fournier said. "When we first were contacted, we answered a lot of questions about how to make this movie.

"We then got all the right channels going and began work with movie crew — they are a very professional group," Fournier said.

"It's such a wonderful story."

Connor said being able to have Fort McCoy Soldiers and personnel on hand to be among the first to see the movie in the U.S. was special.

"It's very emotional for me to show the movie to the troops and people here," Connor said. "Because of the movie's name and the story it tells, it made perfect sense to show it here first.

"It (also) was a great honor to shoot (this film) on an Army installation, and we are ever grateful for that," Connor said. "We really want to thank everyone at Fort McCoy — the troops and everyone who has gone through there."

After the premiere, the movie went nationwide at select theaters and by later this year will be available on other venues.

When asked if she thought her grandparents would like the movie that portrays them, Connor said they would.

"I think my grandparents would be very proud of it," Connor said. "They remembered their time here (at Fort McCoy) fondly. I think they would be honored."

For more about the movie, go online to http://fortmccoy-movie.net/.