It was a cold late October night as I hopped off the back of a truck, my carbine was handed down, and I reported for guard duty, marching the perimeter of the Gold Vault at Fort Knox, Kentucky.

A few months before, I’d been studying journalism at Bradley University, and as I trudged along the giant square chain link fence with the dimly-lit vault building over my shoulder, I wondered at how my path had led to this forlorn place, and if and when I’d find my way out to discover some glimmer of a brighter future. I wondered, too, if in reality the inside of the vault looked anything like it had been portrayed in the newest James Bond film, Goldfinger, filmed here just a year before. And, were there still mountains of gold only yards from my guard path? I was so near, yet so far, from the answers.

In another seven months, I’d leave this place, bringing along two gold bars of my own — on my shoulders. My own little war story had began.