Thursday, August 13, 2009

501st LEGION~PART 3~IT'S ALL ABOUT THE MEMBERS by Denise Vasquez





The 501st members are
the most inspiring, good
hearted, fun loving,
creative people I've
come to meet!!!

Part 1 of this series is
dedicated to Founder
Albin Johnson (See Archive 6/14) and Part 2
of this series is
dedicated to 501st
Legion members (see
Archive 6/21)...

Welcome to part 3

IT'S ALL ABOUT THE
MEMBERS!

I'm a HUGE fan of the
501st & I've personally
witnessed how dedicated
ALL of the 501st members
are to the Legion and what they ALL represent...

...little did I know that I was about to become a part of the family...

501st Member & GREAT
friend Danielle Alvarez
wrote me on July 8th, 2009
asking if my man Randy
Martinez & I would be able
to attend the 501st dinner
during San Diego Comic
Con. Randy is already an
honorary member, so I
figured as a courtesy, they
were kind enough to extend
the invitation to me as well
.
During the con, I was at my
table in “Artists Alley” when
Lesley
Farquhar (Southern
California Garrison)
approached me with Edgar
Gallego...they both
embraced me with their
big, warm, smiles! Lesley
pulled out 2 AWESOME ID
badges...both have really
GREAT photos of me with
my name “Denise Vasquez,
Star Wars Artist, Honorary
Member”...when I got to
that point I was like “huh?
What?” It hadn’t sunk in
yet... so I kept reading the
ID badge Southern
California Garrison, 501st
Legion”...I was like
“Wholly...WOW...me?!?” I
was floored, excited, teary
eyed & TRULY
honored!!!

I had no idea there was still
more to come...I figured
that was it...until later on
when we attended the 501st
dinner! During dinner, I sat
at a table with Randy
Martinez, Jamie Snell,
Meagan Finnerty, Dave
Filoni, Tom Kane & his son,
Jane Weidlin, Bonnie
Burton,Terri & Tom
Hodges...I was so engrossed
with great
conversations...talking to
Dave Filoni about Godzilla...being entertained
by Tom Kane sitting across
from me doing his perfect Morgan Freeman
impersonations...Randy
Martinez, Jamie Snell talking
about art, Star Wars, 501st
and more...

I could feel something was
happening, but as there was
SO much beautiful, positive,
energy happening all around
me, I still didn’t have a clue
during dinner... After Dinner
when Jane Wiedlin was
inducted I thought, “How
cool is it that I get to see her
get inducted!”...then I see
Danielle Alvarez & Dan
Bergren get up on the mic,
and when I heard them say
my name, that’s when It
really hit me! I was shocked,
surprised, excited,
honored...yes, I cried...all I
kept thinking was “WOW,
What an honor! I am truly
grateful to be a part of such an amazing community!”



The 501st ROCKS!

I've personally witnessed
how dedicated ALL of the
501st members are to the
Legion and what they ALL
represent...I love their
commitment to Star Wars as
well as to eachother & their
community... I LOVE
everything the 501st
does...of course for the love
of Star Wars, but it goes
BEYOND that! I love how
involved the 501st is with
the community... I love what
they do for charity...I love
that they make their own
costumes...I love seeing the
special bond when they
come together no matter
what Garrison they belong
to! I LOVE everything about
the 501st & I am truly
honored to be a part of such
an amazing family! Thank
you thank you thank you!
I’m soooo looking forward to
suiting up! May the force be
with you!

Now lets meet more
AMAZING 501st members...


-How did you find out
about the 501st?

In 2003 I started getting
back into Star Wars a lot
and started seeing them around. At the time I didn't
know a lot of people and
was mainly into collecting
and just sort of did it on my own.

-What inspired you to want to join?
Well most people don't
know that I'm actually
trained as a Social Worker. I don't do that today but
joining the 501st has
allowed me to mix two things I love which are Star Wars and volunteering.

-Which Garrison are you
a part of?
I'm currently the
Commanding Officer of the
Southern California Garrison.

-When did you join? How
long have you been a
member?
I joined officially in 2005,
so about four years now.

-Where did you get your
costume? Did you make
yours?
This is a funny story. One
day I was sitting on the
sofa watching one of those
Do it Yourself programs on
HGTV and a friend of mine
called me asking "Do y
ou want to be a
Stormtrooper?" It was the most random
thing I thought at the time.
I said "Maybe? I guess so?" I didn't know at the time
what I was even saying yes
too. He told me that all I needed to do was bring
cash to the guy's house in Anaheim and I would have
everything I needed. So I
drove to this stranger's house met him outside on
the street and gave him my
money and in exchange he gave me a big brown
box. I was alone and had
no idea what I just did. I didn't even know I had to
put it together. I wondered
all the way home how a
Stormtrooper costume fit in
that small box! I soon was
educated.

-Where have you traveled to participate in 501st events?
I have been in the US as far
as Atlanta to go to Dragon Con. I've also been on a
cruise to Mexico down near
Cozumel with other 501st members from all over and we hung out with the
Mayan Squad. It was the
best time ever!

-Where’s the farthest you’ve traveled?
So far Mexico but next year we are getting together and
going to Norway! It's the 30
Anniversary of Empire
Strikes Back and we are going to Hoth!

-What’s
your fondest
501st memory?
Ask me again when I'm not CO

-What’s your favorite
thing about being a 501st member?
The friendships I've made
with people all over the
world.

-What’s the day like
for you as a 501st
member preparing for an event?
A crazed state of panic
mostly especially when it's
a high profile event which
we tend to get a lot of
down here in Southern California. I sometimes can
spend up to two hours a night responding to
requests for appearances
and finding out details for
appearances we are already
booked for. My in box stays full. Oh and not
to forget
there is working on your
costume and doing wardrobe checks before a
show.

-Does the 501st have
ranks or positions? Do
you have duties you have to adhere to
during events?
Yes depending on the size of the Garrison you can have lots of positions. We
have the basic ones that are required such as the Executive Officer and the
Membership Liaison, but we
also have others such as our Charity Rep and
Mentoring Manager. During
events everyone just does
what the client has requested whether that is
standing for pictures or
passing out freebies to kids.
Heck I've even played Laser
Tag in my Stormtrooper!



-How did you find out
about the 501st?

I originally found out about
the 501st by doing research on the internet about building a
stormtrooper costume.

-What inspired you to
want to join?

I always loved Star Wars since I was a little kid. My
friends and I started playing “Star Wars Galaxy” some years back. Then I
remembered, Star Wars is pretty cool. Then I found out that you can actually get a Stormtrooper
costume that you could wear. That started my path with the 501st.

-Which Garrison are you a part of?
I am a proud member of the Golden Gate Garrison. We are located in the San Francisco Bay Area. We are
sometimes referred as the “Home Team” due to our close proximity to LFL.

-When did you join? How long have you been a member?
I officially joined on August of 2004, so that would
make me a member for 5 years now.

-Where did you get your
costume? Did you make yours?

I originally got my first
costume (stormtrooper) from a person named Efrain L. in Las Vegas. He helped
me construct this costume and helped me from start to finish.

-Where have you traveled to participate
in 501st events?

Usually I try to do local events since this is my
hobby. I’ve done numerous events around the bay area, and was chosen to
participate in the Rose Parade in 2007.

-Where’s the farthest
you’ve traveled?

I guess the farthest I have
travelled to do an event has been to San Diego for Comic-Con and Pasadena
for the Rose Parade.

-What’s your fondest 501st memory?
For sure, my greatest memory was taking part of the Star Wars Spectacular
during the Rose Parade 2007. I built a lot of friendships and bonds,
which I still have, and have a ton of fond memories of that event. I have also
done some “covert ops” which would make some Star Wars fans drool. Those have been lots of fun as
well.

-What’s your favorite thing about being a
501st member?

My favorite part of being a 501st member is just
hanging out with like minded individuals from all sorts of backgrounds
getting together for a common cause. I also like seeing the joy we bring to kids and kids at heart when
wearing our costumes. Finally, we get a few cool perks, like meeting and
becoming friends with people responsible for bringing us Star Wars, such
as yourself Denise!

-What’s the day like
for you as a 501st member preparing for an event?
Usually the day of the event, I’ll check out my armor make sure which ever costume I decide to
bring that day is complete. Then I’ll head out to the meeting area, chit chat until about 15 minutes
before we’re needed, then finally suit up. I usually wait until everyone is done or almost done since I don’t
take long to suit up. I like watching the newbie members try to put armor
on. It makes me laugh.

-Does the 501st have ranks or positions? Do
you have duties you have to adhere to during events?
Since the 501st is loosely based on a military unit, we follow a similar structure for
command. I personally don’t have any ranks or positions. I find that I like to leave that kind of thing
for people who like politics and leadership. For me, the best part is to just show up
and have fun and only really need to be responsible for myself.

-Anything else you would like to add?
During my time with the legion, I noticed a lot of changes, some for the
better some for the worse. As we continue to grow in numbers, some of the focus has been lost. Locally in our
garrison, we’re trying to refocus on the costumes and making this hobby fun.
Jun Arbues
Legion ID: 1697
Golden Gate Garrison



-How did you find out about the 501st?
Just poking around the web looking for Star Wars of course. But I did see the members at SDCC in the past and looked into where they all started.

-What inspired you to want to join?
Smiles for kids? Charity work?...nah...I get to play Clone ; )
My love of films and VFX naturally led to building costumes and props. Having a Clonetrooper standing in my movie room just brings the movies closer.


-Which Garrison are you a part of?
Southern California Garrison! Happy 10th Anniversary!

-When did you join? How long have you been a member?
I made some friends on the SCG board in 2007 who really helped me get approved costumes built. I became an active member on 01/31/08.

-Where did you get your costume? Did you make yours?
I got mine second-hand in parts and transformed it into a 327th Clone--again with alot of help from my SCG brothers.

-Where have you traveled to participate in 501st events?
I've done local stuff mostly. No high-profile events. The smaller one's have great appeal to me.

-Where’s the farthest you’ve traveled?
Chula Vista

-What’s your fondest 501st memory?
Would be armor parties; kickin' it with friends building armor/props--and they get you, no explanation necessary. The 501st dinner during SDCC was so awesome--great memories there.

-What’s your favorite thing about being a 501st member?
Making new friends and hanging with good ones. I'm also glad that what we do make people happy when they get pix with us.

-What’s the day like for you as a 501st member preparing for an event?
Night before checking everything and making minor repairs. Packing the car ready to leave. Batteries, velcro and CA glue are your best friends.

-Does the 501st have ranks or positions? Do you have duties you have to adhere to during events?
You can go for a position within the garrison. I have no time for such commitment but I have great regard for those who have taken them on. I try to help out with design work. Recently I designed the SCG 10th Anniversary logo, Droid Hunt badges for SDCC and Dragon Con and the 2009 Blizzard Force t-shirt.

Starting to volunteer to be Point of Contact at events. As such you keep all the troops informed as to where to go and when; be the liason between the event coordinator and the troops.

-Anything else you would like to add?
I have a Galactic Marine in the works, followed by an AT RT driver and a BIG surprise to debut at SDCC 2010!!
Thanks for including me in your story!


-Any upcoming events?
October 10th: Lego Star Wars Visual Dictionary book release; Carlsbad Borders Books
Barry
Banzai88
TC 1588



-How did you find out about the 501st?
My Ex wife actually turned me on to the 501st. She and I were huge Star Wars
fans and there was a charity walk for Juvenile Diabetes Research
Foundation and she was going to walk in her Storm Trooper armor and she invited me along. She had
an extra set of armor which she helped me get fitted for, and the next day I showed up to the walk
decked out in armor. The experience was pretty incredible, how people reacted, especially the kids.
While I was walking I had a little girl grabed my hand , I looked down, as best as I could in the armor, and
she asked me, "Why do you have to be so bad?".... That was it, I was hooked, and I dived fully into
trooping and joined the 501st immediately afterward.

-What inspired you to want to join?

After the JDRF charity walk
I could see the worth while work that the legion did, especially on behalf of
childrens charities. I wanted to be a part of that, and get involved with other people that had the same
passion for Star Wars I had and wanted to do something good with it.

-Which Garrison are you a part of?
The Southern California
Garrison (SCG)

-When did you join? How
long have you been a member?
I have been a member for
6 years now.

-Where did you get your costume? Did you make
yours?
I got my first set of armor from my Ex-Wife and have
acquired others from various sources. You just don't buy the costume,
there is a significant amount of work to making it and customizing it for the
wearer. Its definitely not something you can get off the rack. In most cases,
and certainly mine, you are always working on your current costume and new
ones.

-Where have you traveled to participate
in 501st events?
I have kept my travels fairly local, Southern
California for the most part.

-Where’s the farthest
you’ve traveled?
Southern California

-What’s your fondest 501st memory?
I remember having gotten a request from a mother of
a child who had cancer. She said her son was a huge Star Wars fan,and asked if we could do a
private room visit at Childrens's Hospital here in San Diego. Waliking into his room, and seeing his face
light up, his mother said that it was the first time in months that she had seem
him smile that way.

-What’s your favorite thing about being a
501st member?
The good work we do for charities, the friendship an
d ties you build with other members, and the occasional cool event we
get to do on behalf of LFL and their licensees.

-What’s the day like
for you as a 501st member preparing for an event?
For me it starts the day before, making sure that I have everything I need for a troop, (event). Doing an
inventory of the armor, seeing if there is any repairs or adjustments that
need to be made. Then showing up at the event early enough so you can get dressed and then being
available for what ever is needed of you.

-Does the 501st have
ranks or positions? Do you have duties you have to adhere to during events?
Yes, Like any other organization we do have and need individuals to help run it. The 501st Legion has
approximately 4000 members world wide is has been recognized by the Guiness Wolrd book of
records as the Largest Star Wars Fan club in the world. The membership is divided into geographical groups
called Garrisons. The Garrison, depending on their size and the area they cover, are sometimes
divided smaller groups called Squads. Each regional group and sub groups has a leadership and
admistrative team, which somewhat mirrors a military chain of command. For example in a Garrison,
there is the Garrison Commanding Officer, who is elected every year by the Garrison membership, and
Garrison Executive Officer. The adminstrative team is made up of the Garrison Membership Liaison, the
Garrison Web Liaison, the Publice Relations Officer, the Garrison Webmaster, and the Squad Leader(s).
The Squad Leader is also elected every year. You need people to step up into leadership roles in order for
such an organization to function effectively and efficiently.


-How did you find out about the 501st?

Susie: I found out about the 501st on April 20, 2002, when I met my first

stormtrooper in Long Island, NY during a

convention. I was there with a group of friends to see actors from “The Lord

of the Rings”, but forgot all about that when I saw stormtroopers escort the

actor to his panel.

I joined my local Fan Force,

R2-Detroit, in June 2002. That’s when I met local members of the 501st and

Rebel Legion.


Jon: I saw them at the first

Celebration in 1999. I took photos of many of them, but didn’t think about making a

costume. Then at Celebration II, three years later, I was overwhelmed with all the

costumers there. I talked to a member at their booth, picked up some information, and

started researching them. Shortly after, I also joined the R2-Detroit Fan Force and took

my first steps into a larger world.

-What inspired you to want to join?

Susie: I helped as non-costumed support at a few events, and really loved

how fun the events were. I realized that the costumers were having a lot more fun

than the rest of us. With the help of a friend, who made my first Leia

costume, I joined the Rebel Legion in December,

2002.

After Jon and I married, he

asked me to make him a jumpsuit for a new costume he wanted to do: AT-ST

Driver. Since I was making one jumpsuit, I thought I

might as well make another for myself, then we could do events that were

501st only together, and I would have a costume to wear when the event

already had a Leia (as I only had Leia costumes).


Jon: It was in awe at all the troopers I saw at

Celebration II. At that point my mission was to become a stormtrooper!

-Which Garrison are you a part of?

We are both members of the Great Lakes Garrison in Michigan.

-When did you join? How long have you been a

member?

Susie: I joined in April,

2005, so I’ve been a member for 4 years and 4

months.


Jon: It was April 2003 for

me.

-Where did you get your costume? Did you make

yours?

Jon: My first 501st costume

was a Stormtrooper. I bought an assembled set of armor from a 501st member in

Illinois. He was a little bigger than me, so I had to trim dow

n the arm and leg pieces and buy the accessories.


Susie: We both have AT-ST Driver costumes. I made the jumpsuits. Jon found

gloves for both of us, put together the belts and goggles and helped friends

make our helmets. The most difficult part of the

costume for me to acquire was the boots.


Jon: Susie did an amazing job with the jumpsuits. We’ve been told that our

costumes have inspired others to make them. I

believe we are the only husband and wife AT-ST Drivers in the Legion. Now

we just need the actual vehicle!

-Where have you traveled to participate in 501st events?

Susie: I’ve attended events in Indianapolis (Celebration

III), Boston (Where Science Meets Imagination opening weekend) and

Orlando (Disney’s Star Wars Weekends). As a member of the Rebel

Legion I’ve attended additional events in

Canada, Indiana, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Georgia and

Ohio.


Jon: I’ve covered all the

sides of the continental USA from California to Massachusetts, Michigan to

Florida. In addition to all the places Susie lists, I was in California for the 2007

Tournament of Roses Parade thanks to Uncle George.

-Where’s the farthest you’ve traveled?

Susie: The farthest I’ve traveled to participate in an event is from Michigan to

Orlando, Florida. Jon and I did join the Pacific Outpost for an event (as fans, not participants) in Hawai`i,

while there for our honeymoon.


Jon: We actually drove straight from the airport,

after flying from Michigan to Hawai`i, to see the 501st

there. It was the only event they were trooping during our two weeks in paradise,

so we had to go see them. The Tournament of Roses Parade is the farthest from

home for me to costume an event.

-What’s your fondest 501st memory?

Susie: I have so many! If I go with the 501st over the Rebel Legion (I costume

more often as Leia with the RL), then it has to be the “Where Science Meets

Imagination” event in Boston, MA. In addition to the very warm welcome we

received from the troopers in Boston, George Lucas was there. Walking within a

couple of feet of the man who created the movies that have brought so much

joy to my life was astounding.

A very close second to that was at Celebration III in Indianapolis. On Thursday

the 501st marched to the steps of a building for a

photo. Once we were all arranged for the photo, Albin Johnson called his

daughter Katie so we could all say hello to her. It was one of the most touching

moments; to be able to speak as a group to this

little girl whose brave fight against a terrible disease

truly changed the face of the 501st.


Jon: Having trooped almost 200 events, I’ve been

fortunate to be part of some unforgettable moments. I’ve been in huge

parades from Disney, Tournament of Roses, and America’s Thanksgiving

Parade in Detroit. The Great Lakes Garrison has been involved with many

sports teams where I’ve thrown out the first pitch and danced on dugouts at

baseball games, attempted kicking field goals at an arena football game

(practically blind with the TK bucket on), and watched troopers & Boba Fett

skating at hockey games. We were able to act out scenes on stage in front of

the Detroit Symphony Orchestra for a series of

concerts. During which, I was actually “killed” in the

Battle of Endor and I used a stuffed ewok to dance on my body to the delight of

the crowd.

Having been a part of all

those events, my fondest 501st memory happened

around Christmas in 2007. In early December there was a murder/suicide that

happened near Ironwood, Michigan, which left two boys without parents.

Sheldon Ewers, TK-192, lives in that area and immediately went to work

to do something for these boys. In just a couple of weeks, he put together a

spaghetti dinner fundraiser two days before Christmas. There were all kinds of

items donated from local businesses and 501st

members to be raffled off or given to the boys. Sheldon was able to get a

hotel and restaurant to provide rooms and meals for any troops that could

make the trip. Rome Ohnui, TK-1800, and his wife Lori let me ride along

with them on the 10 hour trip up north. More troops

wanted to go, but family obligations prevented that

as the return drive was on Christmas Eve.

During the dinner, we were hit with a blizzard that dropped twelve inches of

snow. To try to attract more people, the three Stormtroopers stood by the

road while snow was falling sideways. We ended up

raising over $1600 for the boys and we presented the boys with framed “Honorary Stormtrooper” certificates.

The grandparents were very appreciative of the charity dinner and their

gratitude could be seen in their tears. The hugs they

gave us are something I’ll always treasure. For the Ohnui’s and me, this was

an amazing event to be involved with.

We made the long 10 hour drive home on Christmas Eve with joy in our hearts.

After they dropped me off, I drove another six hours to

Pittsburgh to be with Susie and family. No matter what happened when I woke up

on Christmas morning, this was the most rewarding holiday season I’d have.

Sheldon was recognized as 501st Legion Trooper of the

Month for his efforts in helping out two children during a very difficult time.

-What’s your favorite thing about being a 501st member?

Susie: My favorite thing is the friendships I have made that I truly cherish.


Jon: I love being able to put smiles on kid’s faces. Not just the young ones,

but the adult kids too.

-What’s the day like for you as a 501st

member preparing for an event?

Susie: If I’m wearing my 501st costume, it is very easy and relaxed. If

dressing in a Leia costume

I have to put a lot more time in for hair and make-

up.


Jon: As I organize many

events, I have other responsibilities to do besides getting into

costume. Depending on the type of event, I might be bringing PR materials,

TV & DVD player, Blaster Range game, toys, and other goodies for kids. Most

events I make sure to have enough trading cards, activity books, and

temporary tattoos for the expected number of kids. For larger events, I’ll meet

with all the costumers, non-costume support, and our host to go over what’s

planned for the event.

-Does the 501st have

ranks or positions? Do you have duties you have to adhere to

during events?

Susie: Yes, the 501st does

have a lot of structure in order to make such a huge all-volunteer group run. We

do have rules and duties for events. They vary on the type and size of the

event.


Jon: I was Michigan’s Squad Leader with the Midwest Garrison. When the

Michigan troopers decided to form the Great Lakes Garrison in 2007, I was

elected as our Commanding Officer. Currently I serve as the PR

Officer for the Garrison.

-Anything else you

would like to add?

Susie: Watching this group

go from something that was mostly about dressing up as Star Wars characters

for fun to finding ways to give back to the community has been refreshing. We

still dress up for fun at all kinds of events, but a large

portion of our events are charity fundraisers. Knowing that I’m in a group

of people who give their time, effort, money and

love to all sorts of charity organizations is heartwarming.


Jon: The charity aspect is the icing on the cake. Since

2006, in Michigan we’ve raised over $60,000 for various charities.

-Any upcoming events?

Susie: There are tons of

upcoming events! They actually have to turn down events as there are just too

many requests. When “Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith” was

released in 2005, a lot of fans were concerned that the fan and costuming

groups would die out. In fact, the 501st and its sister group, the Rebel Legion,

have grown steadily since then. “The Clone Wars” have helped bring Star

Wars to yet another generation a decade after the release of “Star Wars

Episode I: The Phantom Menace”.


Jon: The Great Lakes Garrison is in the middle of 28 consecutive weeks with

events, which lasts until November. Personally over

the next few weeks, I’ll be at the Great Lakes Loons minor league baseball

game, cheering kids at a Teddy Bear Trot for the Crim Festival of Races, and

a 4th birthday party for a little boy with mastocytosis.




-How did you find out about the 501st?
I found out about from my
Brother-in- Law back in
2005.

-What inspired you to want to join?
After I joined the Rebel Legion in 2006 and was
allowed to troop with the
501st. I was blown away by
what they did.

-Which Garrison are you
a part of?
I am a member of the Southern California
Garrison

-When did you join? How
long have you been a
member?
Officially, I didn't become a member until June 1st,
2008. But I was allowed to
troop as a Rebel with permission before that.

-Where did you get your costume? Did you make yours?
I got it thru a source but don't know who. I did trim it down with some help.

-Where have you traveled to participate in 501st events?
I have traveled all over SoCal.

-Where’s the farthest
you’ve traveled?
I think it's between
Lancaster and Santa
Clarita.

-What’s your fondest 501st memory?
Just putting a smile on kids
faces and having a chance to make a difference in some way.

-What’s your favorite thing about being a 501st member?
Having the chance to step
out of my comfort zone and make a difference.

-What’s the day like
for you as a 501st member preparing for an event?
Get up early to beat traffic of course ( Longer Drives ), Show up, Help others get
dressed if needed and the get my own stuff on.

-Does the 501st have ranks or positions? Do
you have duties you have to adhere to
during events?
Yes, the 501st has a command staff. Their are
rules and regulations that we adhere too. Also, some
events have requests for
certain things. Like No weapons and such....

-Anything else you
would like to add?
I have met some amazing people. Made a lot of
Friends that I can come to for help. But most importantly, I have gotten
to do things I don't think I
would ever have done in my life. For that I'm grateful.



-How did you find out about the 501st?
I went to my first Comic Con in 2002, and remember seeing a squad of Stormtroopers walking
by and my jaw hit the floor. These were my childhood icons, and oh my gosh they were alive! I left
my group to follow them and they led me to the 501st Table. I took a
pamphlet and they answered all my questions.

-What inspired you to want to join?
You know, you grow up and
you imagine to be a Boba Fett, or a Stormtrooper, then you find out there are hundreds more like you.
You want to be a part of that comradery and sharing of that special passion and love, and then you hope to
give at least one person that jaw dropping mo
ment like I had.

-Which Garrison are you a part of?
Unfortunately we are far from being a Garrison, I am
just a lonely little outpost in the outer territories with one member... Me, LOL. I
am the Outpost Leader for the Saudi Arabian Outpost.


-When did you join? How
long have you been a member?
I have been costuming for
5 years, but didn't officially get accepted into the legion until 4 years ago.
I believe I officially joined
on July 22nd, 2005 with my first set of armor, a Clone Trooper.

-Where did you get your costume? Did you make yours?
I got my armor on the Internet, it took a long time to find and do my research,
eventually I got the parts I needed and it took twice as long to put together than what I originally thought.
My first time building armor and putting it together was a mess, and I
probably should have started with something easy... A clone was not a smart start, but I was a
happy camper when it was done. I still constantly modify it to look better
when I have the chance. My Biker Scout was easier to handle, and now I mainly
troop in Imperial Officer Uniforms that I make.

-Where have you traveled to participate in 501st events?
Saudi Arabia, for local
events. Tokyo, Japan for the Episode 3 premiere, and later for Celebration
Japan. LA for Celebration IV. Portland Oregon for a hospital Charity event. Orlando for Star Wars
Weekends. And of course San Diego for Comic Con. Still haven't made it to Europe yet.

-Where’s the farthest you’ve traveled?
Wow, that's a tough
question. The three main hotspots for me are on 3 corners of the globe, but I
would think out of all the places I've trooped Florida was always the longest to get to from any of the
destinations... And well worth it. The most tiring though was trooping
Celebration Japan, then off to Comic Con three days later, and then back home. I think a lot of us were
exhausted that year.

-What’s your fondest
501st memory?
There are so many, one does stick out though. I convinced my wife to march
with me at Star Wars weekends in Orlando, and she wasn't too enthusiastic
about wearing armor, but she finally said okay. She moaned and groaned, the parade started we got to
the end, we all went buckets off and she didn't want to take off her bucket, and I realized was tearing,
all she could talk about was how the kids eyes glared and they smiled and
she couldn't stop talking about it. Next morning she was up early and ready to
go (before me), and I was so happy that she was finally a part of this world and she got what a lot of
the troopers feel but can't express. And being with friends is just such a nice
and relaxing feeling, but having your spouse enjoy it too, is awesome.

-What’s your favorite thing about being a 501st member?
The friends I have met and
have the privilege of knowing in this amazing club. I meet people from all over the globe, different
cultures, languages, amazing talents, intriguing jobs, etc. and they all love
the same thing I do. We have such a diverse membership it's fantastic. We all join for different
reasons, but at the end of the day, we are all friends doing the same thing, loving to troop.

-What’s the day like for you as a 501st
member preparing for an event?
Wake up, double check that my costume is good to go.
Worry about something falling off, or me falling down, get anxious and
wonder why the day is moving so slow. Finish the event, throw everything in the bag, get home with a
big sigh of relief and wonder how the day went by so fast?

-Does the 501st have ranks or positions? Do you have duties you have to adhere to
during events?
Yep, many positions on a legion wide level and
sometimes at unit level. Most are explained thru the 501st charter. Is it like the
military tho? No, we are all the same, unit leaders have more defined roles and responsibilities, and the
charter explains all that a lot better than myself, because I would put your readers to sleep if I went
thru it all =)
Duties as an outpost leader? Yes, I help plan the event, and coordinate it,
and then during the event I always have to remember to do my best to make
everyone happy and enjoy the event.
When I am abroad and trooping in someone else's
territory, I do what I am asked, and take the back seat and enjoy!

-Anything else you would like to add?
My proudest moment being
a member of the legion?
Being a part of the Dewback project at
Celebration Japan with fellow members of the Japanese Garrison. We
raised money for Make A Wish foundation and it was such a memorable
experience.





-How did you find out about the 501st?
I found
out about the 501st Legion at ComicCon in 2005. We (my husband and
I) were just wandering through the Con, found ourselves on the
Mezzanine, and wal
ked right into a pair of Sandtroopers.

-What inspired you to want to join?
We started
talking to the Sandtroopers we met that
day, learned a bit about the
group, and then went home and did some
research. Once we realized
how much the 501st did as
a group, we decided to go for it and started making the costumes.

-Which Garrison are you
a part of?
I’m a member and officer of
the Southern California Garrison.

-When did you join? How long have you been a member?
I joined “officially” in
October 2006. However I signed up to the boards in
2005 when I started
working on costumes for us. I’ve been a member for
3 years now.

-Where did you get your
costume? Did you make yours?
My costume is the Royal
Guard from “Return of the Jedi”. I bought the first helmet off of Ebay, but
have since acquired a specially sculpted one from another member. The rest
of it I made myself.

-Where have you traveled to participate
in 501st events?
I’ve stayed in California since I joined the Legion,
but will be looking to travel
to other garrisons next year. Wherever Celebration
5 lands in 2010--I’ll be going there, and hope to go
to Dragon Con in Atlanta within a couple of years.

-Where’s the farthest
you’ve traveled?
From my home in San Diego? Palmdale! Its about 3-4
hours from San Diego,
but I don’t mind long drives
for trooping events, it’s a
lot of fun!

-What’s your fondest 501st memory?
I once went to an event for
an Autism treatment
center. I met a little boy
there who was 3-4 years
old. He was entranced by my costume and grabbed
onto my helmet to pull me
down to his height for a hug. He held onto me and started to talk to me a mile
a minute about whatever came to mind. When I looked up his mother was
watching us with tears
streaming down her face. She told me later that those were the first words
he’d spoken in over a year.
I walked away that day knowing just how much of
an impact we can make for
these children.

-What’s your favorite
thing about being a 501st member?
The fans, and the charity
work. The fans are so much
fun! The smiles, the questions, and the
comments. It’s a rare day to hear something
negative, although it does
happen. The charity work is
also my favorite because we really are helping our
communities locally as well
as nationally.

-What’s the day like
for you as a 501st
member preparing for an event?
It’s always FUN. From
beginning to end, every
time. To prepare, I go through my chosen costume for the event,
make sure I have all the
pieces, make any needed repairs, shine it all up etc.
Then I’ll drive to wherever
the event is and meet with our onsite contacts to get ready. We usually suit up,
do our event/have fun, and then 95% of the time we’ll go out for dinner afterwards
as a group and socialize
before going home.

-Does the 501st have ranks or positions? Do
you have duties you have to adhere to
during
events?
Yes, we do actually. Because the Legion is world wide, we
have leaders in
the group that help guide
us forward at a world-wide level, and also at a local
level. Each of the local groups is called a “garrison”
which covers specific
territories. The local
garrisons will have a Commanding Officer,
Executive Officer, and then
support staff that includes our Membership and Public Relations officers, as well as
our Webmasters and other
individuals.

Event duties depend on the
day. Each event has its’ own contact. Sometimes I’m running events, other times Im working as a
costume support person or photographer, and other times in costume myself. I
have fun doing all of these
jobs because the end result is the same, we do something for charity, the
fans have a good time, and
the members have a good day.

-Anything else you
would like to add?
I’ve been a member for just
3 years now, but I can’t
imagine leaving. We have
so much fun as a group and I’ve made a lot of lasting
friendships here. I’m
looking forward to being here for a long time and watching the organization
continue to grow!





-How did you find out about the 501st?
The 501st has always
maintained a high profile at the San Diego Comic-Con. Being from San Diego, I
had the chance to see
them there and I had admired them for their
appearances and professionalism.

-What inspired you to want to join?
An opportunity to take part
in a Make-a-Wish event, made me realize that I could express my passion
for Star Wars while helping
others.

-Which Garrison are you a part of?
The number 1 Garrison in The Legion, The Southern California
Garrison.

-When did you join? How long have you been a member?
I officially joined
back in 2004.

-Where did you get your costume? Did you make yours?
As with all of us in the
Legion, we have our private sources for our armor, but each of us
customizes them to fit and taste.

-Where have you
traveled to participate in 501st events?
I've been able to participate in 501st events in several US
locations as well as
Canada and Mexico.

-Where’s the farthest
you’ve traveled?
Indianapolis for Celebration IV

-What’s your fondest 501st memory?
The 2007 Rose Parade. It was INCREDIBLE to be
selected, share the experience with 200+ members of The 501st from
around the world and
actually walk in the Parade. Again, INCREDIBLE.

-What’s your favorite thing about being a 501st member?
Getting in armor and
getting at least ONE smile out of a young fan that may actually believe that he/she has met a Stormtrooper
from Star Wars.

-What’s the day like
for you as a 501st
member preparing for an event?
It varies with some events
that may require all of 5
minutes in armor to others that may stretch out over 3-4 days. We all prepare
ourselves by cleaning and
readying our armor and make an effort to plan for anything that we may need
for the event. One can really know when some part of armor may decide to give out, so a repair kit is
essential.

-Does the 501st have
ranks or positions? Do
you have duties you have to adhere to during events?
1. In San Diego, we have a local
Squad Command Staff consisting of a Squad Leader and a Squad Leader
Assistant.2. Our Squad is a part of The SoCal Garrison led by our Garrison Commanding
Officer and Garrison
Executive Officer. They in turn have several officers that handle PR,
Membership, and our Web
Presence.
3. At the Legion level, we
have a CO, XO, Captain of the Guard, Membership,
Webmaster, PR, and Merchandising Officers.
Each of the officers have
their individual duties, but
each event that we may staff or participate in has a
Point of Contact that handles all communication
with the Event's Co-
ordinator and manages our members.

-Anything else you
would like to add?
I Love The Legion. Each of
us particpates in our own way and does what each of
us has time and funds for. We do so with no
expectation of return or
compensation other than the smiles and joy of those
that we may come in
contact on any day, in or out of armor.
Again, Denise, Welcome to The Legion and thanks for
taking part.
-Edgar
TK8383The 501st Legion


-How did you find out about the 501st?
I think I first read about the
501st in a local news magazine, back in 2002, when I lived in Las Vegas.

-What inspired you to want to join?
I loved Star Wars, of course, and I had always wanted to have a Star Wars costume of my own. But I
never realized that there was a whole group of people out there who
actually made, and wore, screen-accurate costumes until I heard about the
501st. When I learned that they not only wear them for fun, but for charity events
and other good causes, I just had to be a part of it. Since I didn't have the resources to built a 501st
acceptable costume, I first joined the sister group, the Rebel Legion, with a custom Jedi costume that I had
been piecing together for a few months on a very tight budget.

-Which Garrison are you a part of?
I'm a member of the
Southern California Garrison -- SCG or SoCal, for short.

-When did you join? How long have you been a member?
I moved back to California from Las Vegas in 2006 to live with my girlfriend,
Danielle, and with the help and generosity of some of my new friends in the SoCal Garrison I was finally able
to put together a set of Clone Trooper armor. I became a full-fledged 501st member in June, 2007.

-Where did you get your costume? Did you make yours?
Unfortunately, there's no Clone Trooper store where you can go and pick up a
set of armor. Luckily for me, some friends of mine had made some sets of clone armor, and they let
me take a set off their hands for a very reasonable price. It came in kit form, which meant that it had to
have the excess plastic from the vacuum-forming process trimmed off, the
pieces glued together, trimmed to fit me, bondoed, painted and assembled. The whole
project took roughly three months to complete.

-Where have you traveled to participate in 501st events?
There's our annual trip to Comic Con in San Diego. Once, Danielle and I drove our old Volvo to an event in
Ridgecrest, CA, barely making it there before the transmission overheated. I've also driven from SoCal
to Las Vegas for ShoWest, where five other Clone Troopers and I escorted George Lucas onstage. We
also take part in a lot of events around the L.A. area.

-Where’s the farthest you’ve traveled?
The farthest I've traveled
for an official 501st event would have to be ShoWest in Las Vegas.

-What’s your fondest 501st memory?
My favorite memory of the
501st has to be meeting George Lucas for the first time at ShoWest. It was pretty surreal, because we
hadn't seen him at all until we were all lined up, waiting to march on stage behind him, and when I
first saw him I wasn't sure it was him; it was pretty dark, especially with my helmet on. When George
walked right between me and the clone in front of me, that's when I knew it was him. That was the only
time I've ever actually felt nervous about an event. But after our bit was over we all marched back stage,
where George posed and chatted with us for several minutes.

-What’s your favorite thing about being a 501st member?
The thing I like most about being a 501st member is the feeling of camaraderie that exists between its
members. Most of the friends that I see and talk with for the last few years I've met through my
involvement with the 501st. And Danielle and I met because we were both involved in the 501st
community. So, it's really more like a family to us than a costuming club.

-What’s the day like for you as a 501st member preparing for an event?
Hectic. Trying to anticipate any problems that might
pop up is a big part of the planning for any event. There's usually a lot of last-minute rushing around,
trying to make sure all of my costume parts are in working order, and packed in my armor bin. Then
there's all of the other little things that have to be taken care of, like making
sure all of our pets are fed and safe for the day, the car is gassed up, driving directions are written down
, parking arrangements are taken care of, and that we have cash for whatever expenses may arise.
Getting on the road on time is usually the biggest challenge, since most of the
events we participate in involve a good bit of driving, and usually at peak traffic hours.

-Does the 501st have ranks or positions? Do you have duties you
have to adhere to during events?
There are not really any
ranks, per se, but there are a lot of different positions of importance in the 501st. Of course, with
any large group there are a lot of organizational tasks that need to be delegated to certain people. There are
very military sounding titles, like CO, XO and GML, but since we are a completely volunteer-based
group, no one person has any real authority or command over anyone else, like they do in the military.
As for me, I'm happy just to serve as a simple grunt. The only duties I have to
adhere to are to be the best Clone Trooper I can be and to put smiles on the
faces of the attendees.

-Anything else you
would like to add?
Becoming a 501st member is one of the best things
I've ever done. It has opened doors to me that I might never have even
been aware of otherwise, as an artist, as a Star Wars fan, and as a person. I've
made friendships that will last a lifetime, and it's something I am extremely proud to be a part of.


Elton Hom

-How did you find out about the 501st?
On accident. I was researching stormtrooper and clonetrooper costumes for my son for halloween after ROTS came out. I never even knew the 501st existed.

-What inspired you to want to join?
I'm always up to trying something new. I also thought, if I were to make armor to wear, it would be more fun to do it in a group than by myself. My wife thought I was going nuts. She's actually glad I joined now. It gives her a chance to get things done when I'm not around.

-Which Garrison are you a part of?
Golden Gate Garrison

-When did you join? How long have you been a member?
I applied in Oct '05, and was officially in Nov '05. If I counted my fingers correctly, that would make it close to 4 years.

-Where did you get your costume? Did you make yours?
There are actually many places to find armor. I can't really promote the source. It's just one of those things, like taking an open book test. I jist can't say. You just need to do research on who is trustworthy and reliable. I spent about 2 months to build my stormtrooper armor and about 4 months building my clonetrooper armor.

-Where have you traveled to participate in 501st events?
My official 501st events attended are mostly here in the San Francisco Bay Area. Outside of the area for official events include Pasadena, Los Angelas, and San Diego.

-Where’s the farthest you’ve traveled?
I would say San Diego Comic Con as far as official events. In 2007, I took a cross country road trip with my family. Along the way, I met up with 501st members in Albuquerque, Las Vegas, Omaha, and Milwaukee. We just got together to hang out, have dinner and of course trade swag. No trooping was necessary

-What’s your fondest 501st memory?
Too many to list...seriously. I really can't just pick one. But I would say participating in the 2007 Rose Parade is one of the tops. And most recently running into you, Randy, and Jamie with a bunch of other 501st members late at night at SDCC in the middle of the street. For the integrity of everyone involved, I won't say why.

-What’s your favorite thing about being a 501st member?
Being in the company of other members of the 501st who have the same interest as myself. Seeing kids and adults amazed at real life stormtroopers. Helping out a good cause. Those are a few that come to mind at the moment.

-What’s the day like for you as a 501st member preparing for an event?
It actually starts the day before. I go through all my equipment and make sure everything is in working order. Then pack everything up. The day of, I try to arrive at events about an hour or hour and a half early. That gives enough time to check out the surroundings, relax, and get suited up before the event. Oh and of course go to the bathroom. That's one of the most important things.

-Does the 501st have ranks or positions? Do you have duties you have to adhere to during events?

Yes there are officers and such to keep everyone and everything organized. From what I hear, it's not always very fun to be in a higher position. It's a lot of work. Something extra I wouldn't have time for with a family. But I have to say if it weren't for the officers and their efforts, the 501st wouldn't be the professional organization that it is.

As far as duies, that depends on the event. But usually it goes like this for public apearances. Costumed members stay in character for the cameras and the public. Uncostumed Handlers make sure everyone's costume and gear is in good shape, the costumed member has a clear path to walk, and usually answer questions for helmeted characters. We also have Photographers to capture the events.

-Anything else you would like to add?
It's late and I'm tired. I'm going to bed. But thank you Denise for thinking of and including me in your interview. I'm honored. You also made me use part of my brain that's been dormant for a while.

2 comments:

  1. Congratulations Denise on your 501st honorary membership! Welcome to the family! :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow--I learned alot about my fellow troopers! Fascinating background stories not found anywhere else. This was a great idea; thanks so much for posting it!

    --Barry
    Banzai88

    ReplyDelete