Star Wars

Lt. Col. Gabriel Ramirez, who is deployed with III Corps to the Middle East, was one of hundreds of III Corps soldiers, who got to see “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” during the movie release’s opening weekend. It opened up to deployed troops on Dec. 18, the same date as thearters in the United States.

Soldiers who are deployed to the Middle East with Fort Hood’s III Corps Headquarters got a special “Star Wars” treat a week before Christmas.

The Army and Air Force Exchange Service debuted the latest installment in the sci-fi saga, “The Force Awakens,” at theaters in Kuwait on the same day it debuted at U.S. movie theaters — Dec. 18.

III Corps soldiers who saw the movie had mixed reviews, but all were glad to watch it during the movie’s opening weekend, just like many of their family and friends back home.

“I’d say it’s a solid movie,” said Lt. Col. Gabriel Ramirez, one of more than 400 III Corps soldiers who deployed in September.

He said “The Force Awakens” sets things up well for the next two movies in the series, expected to be released in 2017 and 2019, respectfully.

Ramirez, 39, said he’s not a “huge” fan of the series, but he does enjoy it. He said those who have never seen the movies can still enjoy the latest one on its own.

“If you’ve never seen the movies, it’s OK,” he said, adding AAFES did a good job getting the movie to troops for opening weekend.

Sgt. 1st Class Erick Rodriguez, 32, said he’s been a Star Wars fan “for as long as I can remember,” and was bummed out when he learned he would be deployed when the latest movie was released.

However, when AAFES released the schedule showing “The Force Awakens” would be shown to troops in the Middle East beginning Dec. 18, “I was elated,” said Rodriguez, who watched the original Star Wars movie on VHS tapes as a kid.

“For me, it was everything I could ask for in a Star Wars movie after ‘Jedi’,” Rodriguez said, referring to “Return of the Jedi,” the film in the series that takes place before “The Force Awakens.”

“I was blown away,” he said.

Spc. Hector Valdez, 21, got off work at 3 p.m. on Dec. 18 and waited in line for three hours to catch the first showing of the new movie.

He was the 166th person in line.

Valdez said other Star Wars movies have had better light saber fighting scenes, but the new one is still really good.

And he said there was a surprise ending he didn’t expect.

“I was really shocked about that,” he said.

Contact Jacob Brooks or (254) 501-7468

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