Minot trooper journey’s with 501st Legion

Trooping for a cause

Submitted Photo Chris Reid poses for a photo in his Republic Commando costume, which took him years to craft and perfect.

“I’ve been a Star Wars fan since forever. My parents introduced me and my brother to it and we watched it on road trips,” Chris Reid explained as he sat outside of Starbucks in Minot, coffee in hand. What he didn’t realize back then was that his growing love of the films would lead him to cosplay for a cause.

The 501st Legion is a community dedicated to promoting interest in Star Wars, facilitating the use of costumes and contributing to communities through fundraising, charitable acts and volunteering. As of August, the 501st Legion has 14,191 active members worldwide, with 29,040 approved costumes.

Reid learned about the 501st Legion from some friends he was stationed with at a base in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

“Not too long after we started hanging out they mentioned it in a conversation once or twice like, ‘You know, you can join this group if you build your own trooper costume,'” Reid explained. “In the back of my mind I thought it was cool but I could never afford it. That’s way to much money.”

It wasn’t until Reid discovered what the 501st does that he finally bit the bullet. One of Reid’s friends got married and had a son who had to spend a majority of the first three years of his life at the Denver Children’s Hospital due to different medical issues.

Submitted Photo Dressed as a Storm Trooper, Chris Reid “troops” around iMagicon in Minot with his son in April of 2018.

“The troopers would actually go to the hospital down there and visit the families,” Reid said. “The picture they sent me was of their family laughing it up, having a blast … In that little brief moment of time, the whole family was like ‘What medical condition? What heart problem?'”

It was in that moment Reid realized he wanted to make his own trooper costume and join the 501st.

Shortly after deciding to join, Reid had to move to California and was stationed at Vandenberg Air Force Base. Thankfully, Reid ran into some other Star Wars fans and 501st hopefuls to finally start his journey.

Reid start building templates for a Boba Fett-style of armor before receiving orders to go to Utah.

“I got to Utah and there I met up with the rest of the real 501st that was out in that area,” he explained. “There’s a huge number of them out in that area.”

Submitted Photo Chris Reid poses for a photo with other Central Garrison 501st Legion members at the Minot Air Force Base Library for their Star Wars day in January of 2019.

The veteran 501st members quickly jumped to Reid’s aid and pointed him to the right places to get pieces of the armor already built and support to assemble it.

“At that point, I thought ‘Well, this isn’t really me making it at that point,'” Reid said. “But again, when it come down to it, who cares what you have or how you did it? It’s about what you do when you do have it.”

Reid assembled his Storm Trooper costume and later was able to build a Republic Commando costume and has helped many others bring their ideas together.

While a lot of the efforts Reid is a part of are charitable or fundraising, there are also events Reid has appeared at that are just to get people out in the community and to have a good time. He does sometimes get out in his different costumes just for fun and to be a part of the community.

Since Reid has been stationed in Minot for the past year and a half, he has found participation in 501st Legion activities is harder to come by.

“Here, it’s been a little tougher because most of our guys are down in Bismarck, Fargo and just a little further geographical separation than (in Utah),” Reid explained. “But we’ve done the last two iMagicons they’ve had here.”

The good thing about the legion, according to Reid, is they normally always have someone or something already in play. Unfortunately, Reid is currently the only 501st member in Minot. The crew in the state is smaller than Reid had initially anticipated before moving here, but he can always count on the fellow members here to show up and troop with him whenever possible.

Trooping is also turning into a family affair for Reid, his wife Jamie and their kids. In December of 2017, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” hit theaters and Reid’s oldest son was able to dress up as an Ewok for the movie premiere and get his first taste of trooping.

“He got super excited because he finally got to go troop with dad,” Reid said. “He went and watched (Return of the Jedi) for hours, just watching the clips with all the Ewoks to learn mannerisms and their behavior.”

Jamie Reid has an officer costume so she gets to be the boss of Chris while trooping together.

“It’s also helpful having her suited up because the movies don’t lie – I can’t see a thing in that helmet,” Reid joked. “If I’m ever trooping and I run into somebody, it’s totally not deliberate. I can’t see a thing in this helmet, but it’s a lot of fun.”

The 501st breaks down into different units based on region. North Dakota is a part of the Central Garrison, which includes Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota. On the Central Garrison website, Reid is listed with four costumes — Imperial Crew: Bridge Crew, Officer: Line Officer, Republic Commando and a Stormtrooper. In North Dakota, Reid has participated in five different activities with the 501st.

Reid has been a part of the Air Force for the past 18 years and looks forward to retiring in the near future. He hopes to obtain a degree to go into teaching. All while trooping, of course.

Anyone over the age of 18 can join the 501st Legion as long as they build and get their costumes approved. To learn more about the 501st Legion, visit its website, 501st.com.

(Prairie Profile is a weekly feature profiling interesting people in our region. We welcome suggestions from our readers. Call Editor Mike Sasser at 857-1959 or Regional Editor Eloise Ogden at 857-1944. Either can be reached at 1-800-735-3229. You also can send email suggestions to msasser@minotdailynews.com.)