Have you seen this Sandtrooper?

Have you seen this Sandtrooper?By BRIAN COSNER

News Review Staff Writer

An Imperial Trooper has been spotted roaming the neighborhoods of Ridgecrest. But residents of our planet have naught to worry – this isn’t a sign that authorities have escalated to Galactic-Empire levels of shelter-in-place enforcement, just a local costumed performer out to cheer up the home bound.

The man behind the trooper mask, Ridgecrest resident Doug Foster, is a member of the “501st Legion” – an international volunteer organization of Star Wars fans and costume enthusiasts who use their powers for good (even if they may be dressed like they serve the dark side).

Legion members are known to make appearances at community events and also visit children’s hospitals, toy drives and orphanages through charity organizations like the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

“Someone took a picture of my in my suit and posted it on Facebook. The next thing you know, people are giving me their addresses asking me to come down their street or stop by for their kid’s birthday,” said Foster.

As photos of people spending their birthdays alone due to COVID-19 precautions permeate social media – it’s nice to find ways to have fun and still adhere to health-and-safety directives.

“It helps that the suit is totally social-distancing friendly,” said Foster, as it covers him head-to-toe including a full face mask.

Our local masked trooper (more specifically a Sandtrooper, Designation TD-122714, Mos Eisley Police Department) spent almost two years (and more than a few Imperial Credits) making his costume and bringing it up to 501st standards. A Star Wars fan since “A New Hope” hit theaters in 1977, Foster said it’s something he’s always wanted to do.

“And it’s been great visiting the neighborhoods, tons of people are definitely enjoying it,” he said. “It’s made so many kids happy. They’re stuck at home and can’t do anything. Some of the parents have said it’s the happiest they’ve seen their kids since this all started.”

Foster added that his next project is making a suit of Mandalorian (Boba Fett, aka guy with the jetpack in Return of the Jedi, for the non-Star Wars nerds) armor to join the “Mandalorian Mercenaries,” a similar group to the 501st Legion. This would mesh even better with social distancing measures as Mandalorians are prohibited from removing their helmets in front of any other person. This is the way.

Foster will continue to make appearances as health-and-safety measures allow.

“I’m actually going to California City on the 25th for a birthday parade and I’m going by someone’s house in Inyokern on the 27th,” he said.

The trooper can be contacted on Facebook (facebook.com/doug.foster.5205) to request an appearance.

Pictured: Sandtrooper TD-122714 pauses for a photo with the Utley family (from left), Lily, Darrick, Thomas and Jennifer, during a recent patrol of Mayo Street. — Photo by Rebecca Neipp

Story First Published: 2020-04-17