• Mattie Stu

Star Wars Lore - The 501st Legion

The 501st Legion was an elite unite of clone troopers in the Grand Army of the Republic. Led by Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker, the battalion partook in many important missions throughout the Clone Wars. However, after failed attempts to warn the unit of the secret inhibitor chip installed into all clone troopers, the 501st Legion massacred the Jedi Temple alongside Skywalker. Following the fall of the Galactic Republic, the battalion continued to serve their fallen Jedi leader, earning the nickname of “Vader’s Fist”…

The troopers of the 501st Legion were all clones of Jango Fett, and were raised on Kamino to be the ultimate soldiers. At the birth of the Clone Wars, the unit was assigned to serve under Jedi General Anakin Skywalker and Clone Captain CT-7567, nicknamed “Rex”. Under the tutelage of both leaders, the battalion quickly earned a reputation for incredible victories, often from the jaws of defeat. Among the 501st’s earliest engagements was the Battle of Christophsis, where they managed to recapture the planet from the CIS and repel multiple assaults from the General Whorm Loathsom led Separatist forces. Immediately after the Republic victory on Christophsis, the 501st detachment Torrent Company was dispatched alongside Rex, Skywalker, and his Padawan, Ahsoka Tano, to recover Jabba the Hutt’s son, Rotta. In order to gain access to the hyperspace routes through Jabba’s territory for the Grand Army, the Republic unit began a gruelling campaign to the B'omarr Order Monastery. After traversing up the vertical face of a cliff, which killed half of the unit, the Torrent Company defeated the monastery’s battle droids. But when Skywalker and Tano secured Rotta, the Separatists launched a counter attack. As a result, the Republic forces had to barricade themselves inside the stronghold. After losing three-quarters of their remaining forces, defeat looked inevitable. Thankfully, Obi-Wan arrived alongside the 212th Attack Battalion, securing a Republic victory. Although a treaty was signed between the Republic and Jabba the Hutt, the loss of the original Torrent Company scarred everyone involved.

When the 501st Legion’s forces were replenished, the unit reverted back to its winning ways. Rex later inducted rookie troopers “Fives” and “Echo” for their part in recapturing a Republic outpost from the Separatists and alerting the Republic to an impending attack on Kamino. As a result, the Separatists’ attempt to steal a sample of Jango Fett’s DNA from the clone homeworld was thwarted. Fives and Echo were later awarded the rank of ARC Trooper for their valiant service in the campaign. When the Republic planet of Umbara defected to the Separatists, a massive military campaign was launched to retake the planet. The Republic forces were spearheaded by the 501st Legion, meaning the success of the campaign ultimately depended on the battalion. Although the unit suffered some casualties in the first wave of the invasion, Skywalker and his troopers succeeded in repelling the Umbarans. However, command of the 501st Legion temporarily changed when Anakin was ordered to return to Coruscant. General Pong Krell assumed control of the battalion and quickly asserted his “unique” command style. Whilst the rest of the clones obeyed Krell’s harsh leadership style, Rex and Fives were quick to openly question his methods. When the 501st’s position was compromised when attacking the planet’s capital, Rex demanded his men retreat. Krell was outraged by the action, and even threatened Fives with his lightsaber.

Whilst Fives and Jesse strongly disapproved of the Jedi’s lack of concern for clone lives; Dogma was fiercely loyal to Krell and always defended the Besalisk. Rex, on the other hand, disregarded his personal feelings toward the General to honour his code of loyalty, faithfully executing orders without question. The situation only worsened when Krell ordered the execution of Fives, Hardcase, and Jesse. Although they had successfully destroyed a Separatist supply ship, they had disobeyed the Jedi’s orders. Rex tried to reason with Krell, but the General’s mind would not be changed. Faced with a moral dilemma, Fives ordered his brothers to spare the “traitors”, claiming their actions were heroic. Dogma never understood why the firing squad purposefully missed their targets. As it turned out, Krell was a traitor. The 501st Legion discovered the truth when they were later ordered to kill “disguised” Umbaran soldiers, who turned out to be the 212th Attack Battalion. When the Jedi was found out, he openly slaughtered any clone trooper in his path. Thankfully, he was stunned and taken into custody. But before Krell could face justice, Dogma, who felt deeply betrayed, shot the Jedi dead. Shortly afterwards, Rex got word from Kenobi that all sectors of Umbara were secured and that the enemy had been defeated, marking the end of the Umbara invasion.

Nearing the end of the Clone Wars, Fives discovered that an inhibitor chip had been installed into the brain of every clone trooper. Fearing for the worst, Fives made his way to Coruscant to warn the Supreme Chancellor. However, as to cover up Palpatine’s grand plan to overthrow the Republic, Fives was drugged and later framed for lashing out at the Supreme Chancellor. Whilst on the run, Fives attempted to expose the truth to Skywalker and Rex, but the drugs made him sound paranoid and unstable. When the Coruscant Guard arrived to arrest him, he panicked, reached for Rex’s pistol, and was fatally shot. Although Fives never managed to warn every clone trooper of the dangers the chip possessed, Rex looked into the rumour and later removed his own chip, alongside Commander Wolffe and Captain Gregor. Unfortunately, the rest of the 501st were unaware of the chip’s dangers, and so carried out Order 66 without question. Under the leadership of Commander Appo, who replaced Rex, the 501st Legion loyally marched behind Anakin Skywalker, who had turned to the dark side and was renamed Darth Vader. The battalion massacred every Jedi in their path, from younglings to Jedi Masters. During the chaos, Appo and some of his men turned away Senator Bail Organa, claiming the screams within the Jedi Temple were the result of a rebellion and that the situation was under control. However, Padawan Zett Jukassa, having fought his way from the temple’s interior, ambushed the clones. The young Jedi destroyed many troopers and even Appo himself before being overwhelmingly gunned down. With the Jedi Temple secured, the 501st Legion awaited new orders as soldiers of the Galactic Empire.

Nicknamed as “Vader’s Fist”, the 501st Legion continued to serve as Vader’s personal battalion. When the Empire tracked down the Tantive IV, believing stolen Death Star plans were carried on board, Vader’s Fist stormed the ship, laying waste to all of the rebels before taking Princess Leia Organa prisoner. Later the 501st and Vader stormed Echo Base on Hoth. Following the destruction of the Second Death Star, the battalion quickly disbanded. After decades as an elite military force, the 501st Legion was no more…

Now it’s time for this week’s question: do you think the First Order should rebirth the 501st Legion? Let me know in the comments below.

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