Thomas Garcia: Chance encounter with iconic film star

Thomas Garcia

By Thomas Garcia

QCS Columnist

Working eight years with the paper, I have met my share of interesting people. Saturday’s encounter with William Shatner allows me to cross an item off my to-do list.

Let me begin by saying, “I met Adm.  James T. Kirk!”

Shatner was riding across the country raising awareness and funds for the American Legion Legacy Scholarship.

So not only did I get to meet a childhood movie hero, he was also humble, approachable and supports veterans and their families.

I’m admitting I was star struck and for a moment I forgot my own name as Shatner reached out to shake my hand and introduce himself. In fact, while listening to Shatner during the interview there was a part of me hoping he’d say something random from Star Trek like “Warp speed, Sulu,” or even scream out “Kahn!”

Ever so short was my encounter with Shatner, but it will have a long lasting effect on me for some years to come. You might even be able to ask my friend Amanda if I were smiling the entire time I was telling her the story of meeting Adm. Kirk.

Now I know most people including my friend Amanda know him as Cpt. Kirk, though for me Shatner’s portrayal as the commander of the starship Enterprise has been as an admiral.

I didn’t have a TV in my room till I was over the age of 10; if I wanted to watch TV it was in the living room with my family and usually I had certain time slots that had been set for me to watch. Those time slots were filled with cartoons as my mom did not believe in giving us free reign over the TV.

We also didn’t have a lot of options for programs since we were limited to three networks on antenna (CBS, NBC and ABC). We also didn’t get satellite TV, (which came with the huge saucer dish and descrambler) until I was older.

“Star Trek” the original series first aired before I was born and when the reruns were running it conflicted with my mom’s shows. Try telling Mom she couldn’t watch “Dallas” because you wanted to watch “Star Trek,” a science-fiction show that you had only seen clips of, had no idea what it was about and could only vaguely recall the cartoon version. Needless to say the answer was no.

Don’t worry, I was able to fill the void with shows including “Knight Rider,” “Airwolf” and “The A-team.”

So my actual first encounter with “Star Trek” was when I was 9 and convinced my dad to let me rent the VHS “Star Trek the Motion Picture.”

The movie featured the entire original cast and was set years after the series story line ended. It was then I was introduced to Adm. James T. Kirk who was set on a mission to talk to Starfleet Command about the approaching danger to earth. This was also a pivotal moment in the movie and “Star Trek” lore as the admiral was intent on and did regain his command of the newly refitted USS Enterprise NCC-1701.

In that movie and the next three movies that my mom so graciously purchased for me, I followed the exploits of Adm. Kirk and his valiant crew. Note he was demoted to captain  at the end of “Star Trek IV” for disobeying a direct order from the commander of Starfleet that resulted in the destruction of the aforementioned Enterprise.

As Kirk, Shatner blazed a trail through my imagination, always found a way to save the day and for the better part of my youth had me wondering when we would “Boldly go where no man has gone before.”

Yes, I would have to say that meeting Shatner was an experience I will treasure for the rest of my life.

It’s funny when I think about it I really should call my mom and dad and tell them “thank you.”

Were it not for my dad finally saying yes from all of my pleading at M&M Video or my mom taking pity on me,  Shatner may have just been the guy from “Rescue 911.”

Thomas Garcia is a senior writer at the Quay County Sun. He can be reached at

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