By Sgt. Ashley M. Outler, 28th Public Affairs DetachmentMarch 15, 2012
JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash.-- A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away a young girl began a quest to fulfill a lifelong passion for a beloved classic.
In 1977 an 11-year-old Vic M. Alvarez walked out of the theatre after watching "A New Hope", the first of the Star Wars saga. From that day forward, she knew that Star Wars would forever be intertwined in her being.
"When we got out of the movie it was like 'wow this is the coolest thing ever," Alvarez exclaimed. "Who wasn't fascinated with Stars Wars? It had special effects that were unimaginable at that time. Nothing really could compare to it."
Now at age 46, Sgt. Maj. Alvarez, works as the administration and operations sergeant major for the Army Career and Alumni Program on Joint Base Lewis-McChord. She satisfies her Star Wars fascination by surrounding herself with Star Wars memorabilia.
"Some people like collecting coins, some people like collecting baseball cards, different people like different things", said Alvarez. " I'm just a really big Star Wars fan I guess."
Alvarez describes Star Wars as more than just a hobby. It's a passage to a childhood bliss that she missed during her rough upbringing in Bronx, N.Y.
"I lost my childhood and my innocence at such a young age. I cling on to it and never want to let it go, probably because I never really had it to the fullest, so I just want to live it for the rest of my life," Alvarez said. "This is how I came to be such a Star Wars fanatic. It was what I sheltered into, to escape this crazy nonsense I was living in my actual life."
It's a painful past that the confident, outgoing and energetic woman says that she has proudly overcome but her love for Star Wars still burns strong.
"I'm like a big kid. I still feel like I need to be surrounded by this childhood atmosphere to feel at-ease, to feel peaceful, to feel happy," said Alvarez. "That's one of the reasons why I live in this little Star Wars world of mine."
Her vehicle, which she affectionately refers to as her 'spaceship', is covered in painted murals of Star Wars spacecrafts and has a Star Wars themed license plate. She also has Yoda and Darth Vader, characters from the saga, ornaments on the dash with Yoda buckled into the back seat and Darth Vader's voice on her GPS.
"My two favorite characters are Darth Vader and Yoda," said Alvarez. "It depends on my mood. If I'm feeling the force I will go with Yoda and if I'm a little on the dark-side I will go with Darth Vader."
Occasionally she projects the "Star Wars Title", the theme song of the saga, from her vehicle's external speakers.
"I started my collection when I was child, unfortunately there aren't a lot of things that I still have," said Alvarez whose oldest and most precious Star Wars belonging is an album of the soundtrack to New Hope.
Her home is decorated in celebration of Star Wars with spaceships hanging from the ceiling, stand-ups along walls, action figures filling shelves and replicated costume pieces in displays.
"It's kind-of like walking into a 'Comic Con' store but it's my house," said Alvarez. Most of my stuff is authentic replicas. I have quite a bit of money invested in it."
Though she hasn't had the opportunity to go to a Comic Con convention, she was privileged to attend the Seattle Star Wars exhibit last year, where she dressed in Anakin Skywalker's robe, a character from the saga.
"It was like a child visiting Disney for the first time. I was ecstatic," said Alvarez about attending the exhibit that included the items from the films.
On her journey through time, Alvarez has persevered because of a force that grows strong within her. It is a force that she maintains by fulfilling her passion for Star Wars with an environment dedicated to it.