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Robbie Smith stands in full Stormtrooper armor at White Sands National Monument. (Photo Courtesy Caitlin Knorr)

Robbie Smith stands in full Stormtrooper armor at White Sands National Monument. (Photo Courtesy Caitlin Knorr)

When Robbie Smith was 5 years old, he had dreams of becoming a hero. Now Smith, 28, is not only a sheriff’s deputy and a volunteer firefighter, he has also turned his childhood dreams into reality by becoming a Stormtrooper.

“I’ve always been a huge science fiction fan, including Star Wars,” Smith said. “I’m a big nerd.”

When he’s not preventing crime or fighting fires, Smith can be seen volunteering in children’s hospitals and Toys for Tots drives, as well as more lighthearted events such as Comic-Con and movie premieres, in his full Stormtrooper regalia.

Smith got his start dressing up as a Stromtrooper through an organization called the 501st Legion: Vader’s Fist, an all-volunteer group formed for the express purpose of bringing Star Wars costume enthusiasts together. According to Smith, the process of becoming and remaining an active member of the 501st is a difficult and expensive one.

Not only has Smith spent more than $1,200 on his Stormtrooper armor, there are quite a few requirements that come with the territory, such as participating in at least one event per calendar year. However, Smith says, everyone in the 501st is nice and willing to help guide newcomers through the process.

“It’s an inexpensive hobby,” Smith said. “But it’s well worth it to see smiles on kids’ faces.”

Smith’s wife, Katie, has not always been an avid fan of science fiction movies, but Smith says he’s trying to change that. As of late, Katie has been by Smith’s side whenever he participates in an event as a handler – a person who corrals the children and makes sure the people in costume don’t bump into anyone.

“She told me, ‘Robbie, for every Star Wars movie we watch, we’re watching one chick flick,’” Smith said. “But so far, she’s been doing a great job of being a handler.”

Next up Smith’s sleeve is building Kashyyyk (camo Startrooper) armor.

“I already have all the pieces,” Smith said. “Now I just have to put them all together.”