Around 21 BBY
During the Clone WarsEdit
Some troopers of the not-yet-formed 501st fought in the Battle of Geonosis. About a year later, a group of clone troopers and Kaminoan technicians were transferred from Kamino to Coruscant. There, an elite clone unit was commissioned by Palpatine to help end the Clone Wars sooner. These clones were given elite training by some of the clone trooper commanders to make the 501st the most feared legion in the galaxy.
Among the 501st's earliest battles was the Battle of Christophsis, where they served alongside Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Led by Captain Rex, a detachment also under served Skywalker on Teth, where only five troopers survived, although they accomplished their goal: recovering Rotta the Hutt, son of the crimelord Jabba.
In the final days of the war, the 501st was always on the move, heading from battlefield to battlefield, often split up into special mission groups to supplement other clone missions.
Operating outside of the usual command structure, detachments of the 501st served at many famous campaigns. The troopers fought in the Battle of Felucia and the Battle of Mygeeto, just to name a few, serving under the command of many Jedi. At Mygeeto, the 501st was involved in Project Hammertong, a top-secret mission to acquire a power crystal for the Chancellor's superlaser. They succeeded, and crucial to the mission, did not let their commander, Ki-Adi-Mundi, become aware of what was happening.
The 501st also fought in the Battle of Coruscant. Members of the 501st, many flying starfighters in battle for the first time, destroyed many droid starfighters and capital ships. Most importantly, they created a diversion, clearing a path for Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi to infiltrate the Invisible Hand and rescue Chancellor Palpatine.
After that battle, some members of the 501st were dispatched to Kashyyyk. When they jumped out of hyperspace, they found the planet blockaded by the Separatists. The 501st was forced to punch a hole in the Confederacy's fleet, which they accomplished along with stealing a set of attack plans for the upcoming battle. They then landed on the planet's surface, where they fought alongside the 41st Elite Legion and Yoda.
They served in that battle, after which a detachment of the 501st was transferred to Utapau. They fought with Jedi General Obi-Wan Kenobi, and helped the 212th Attack Battalion defeat the droid forces there by taking down various CIS gun batteries and destroying an energy column.
Great Jedi Purge
When the battle was winding down, a group of clones were taken and discreetly transferred to Coruscant. This was in preparation for Order 66. On Coruscant, they met Anakin Skywalker, now Darth Vader, and were given their orders: destroy the Jedi. Though they appreciated the Jedi, their loyalty lay first with the Supreme Chancellor.
Empire of the HandEdit
Behind the scenesEdit
The 501st was first canonized in Survivor's Quest by Timothy Zahn. This was a reference to the fan organization known as the 501st Legion charity group. Formed by Albin Johnson and Tom Crews in 1997, it was originally composed of members who wore stormtrooper costumes. The group has since expanded to include all trooper variations, as well as Sith Lords, bounty hunters, and other villains from the series, and as of May 1, 2007, boasted over 3,500 members in 40 countries.
The 501st Legion helps coordinate volunteers at Celebration, the official Star Wars convention. The group also has the nickname "Vader's Fist," which was subsequently also made the in-universe designation for the legion. The honorary leader is David Prowse, the actor who physically portrayed Darth Vader in the original trilogy.
In a further tribute to the real-life organization, the legion of blue clone troopers led by Darth Vader into the Jedi Temple in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith was designated the 501st. Although this name was not mentioned in the film itself, much of the support material and merchandising for the film make this reference, including the popular video game Star Wars: Battlefront II, from which much of this article is based.
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