Diary of a Clone Trooper

Adventures of TC-4903

501st Galactic Legion – The Ian Keisacker story

Ian Keisacker has been a fan of Star Wars since he was a small youngling.

On night in 2009 there was a disturbance in the force. Ian woke up around 4:30am screaming of a headache and within a half hour he became unresponsive.

His parents rushed him to the ER and within 30 minutes he was in surgery. Seven hours later, the neurosurgeon, Dr. Abbassi, removed a 5cm tumor from the back of Ian’s head. He told Ian’s parents that if they had waited any longer, he would not have survived. The next day, to get his spirits up, his parents told him the doctors had discovered that he had a higher midi-chlorian level than Yoda or Anakin.

The day after surgery, the hospital ran tests and discovered that Ian had an abnormal tumor. To keep his spirits up, while he was in the hospital, his classmates from the Holy Spirit Catholic School in Sioux Falls, SD made him over 200 Star Wars cards to hang in his room.  Within 7 days Ian was no longer in intensive care and on February 14th, he was well enough to go home.

Darth Ian while on his Make-A-Wish trip, 2009

The fight was far from over. Ian still had to visit the Mayo clinic for radiation treatments. Before he could get his treatments, Ian had to have a special port inserted in him. To help make the port placement easier, his parents showed him pictures of C-3PO with his “restraining bolt”. They told Ian that he was going to get something like it to help him and make things easier. For the remainder of his therapy, Ian always referred to it as his C-3PO Port.

While going through his radiation, he loved watching movies, but the Star Wars films were always a hit. While staying at the Ronald McDonald house, their room was decked out in posters, blankets, toys and other Jedi necessities. One of the anesthesiologists even had a lightsaber app that he let Ian customize his own lightsaber on.

Vader and Ian battle it out, 2009

Vader and Ian battle it out, 2009

By the end of his treatment, Ian had gone through 32 radiation sessions. After his radiation was complete, the hospital gave him a month off and then it was on to a full year for chemotherapy. All that time, Ian’s parents used his love of Star Wars to keep him strong. Using references from the Star Wars universe to help explain to him what was happening.

During his chemo and radiation, he was asked to be the honored child for the St. Baldricks fundraiser in Sioux Falls. The 501st legion provided the security detail. It was at this event that his father first learned about the 501st legion from Jamie Ladonski, one of Ian’s Storm Trooper guards.

In June 2009, Ian was given a trip to Disney World by the Make – A – Wish foundation. His favorite part was getting have a lightsaber duel with Darth Vader! Ian was able to have a meet in greet with Clone Wars director Dave Filoni, the voice of Asoka;  Ashley Eckstein, and Captain Typho himself; Jay Lag’aia. Overall, the Disney employees and Make-A-Wish did a phenomenal job at making it a dream come true.

In April of 2010, Ian completed his Chemo and his “C-3PO” port was removed. All the tests showed he was cancer free!

Today, Ian is 9 years old and 3 years cancer free! His love of Star Wars continues to grow as well as his love of helping others. After losing his hair so often in therapy, Ian now enjoys having his head shaved so he can be a young Savage Opress at 501st events. He loves to troop alongside his father and their 501st legion squad.

Ian and his family, December 2011

Ian and his family, December 2011

Ian and his family are walking in St. Baldricks event for the 3rdyear in a row. It It will be Ian’s third year shaving his head at an event that is set up to honor him as well as those with cancer.

This year Ian’s team is The 501st Galactic Legion. His fundraising goal for the event is $500. To help Ian in achieve his goal, please visit his teams site. Every dollar raised goes to help a child fight harder.

May the Force be with them all!

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Phantom Menace 3D Release Mission Report

Imperial Training

Imperial Training

The force was with the Florida Garrison for the Phantom Menace 3D release. In honor of the Phantom Menace 3D release, the FLG came out in full force with over 15 appearances statewide. I proudly served the Empire at CityWalk Orlando on Saturday, February 11th. We arrived, we conquered, and then we ate (trooping is hungry business).

Throughout the night we took pictures, played games trained, interrupted the trailers, and just had fun doing whatever we could get away with.

Fletch Arnold and r2-d2

Fletch Arnold and r2-d2

My son had a blast pretending to play the games and begging for food at the concession stands. If he would dress up and carry a blaster he wouldn’t have to work so hard for his snacks.
At the end of the night we all agreed that we had a blast. I got to see some of the usual gang and some that I don’t get to see as often.

In other areas of the Garrison, R2 was enjoying the movie with a bucket of popcorn. Jango Fett worked the Customer Service counter and a Jawa had a meaningful discussion with a child.

Way to go everyone!

DZ-5165, Melbourne Troop

DZ-5165, Melbourne Troop

Click here for more pictures from our troop at CityWalk.

Did you have a run in with the Empire at the movies? Post up and let us hear about it. Darth Vader likes to hear what his troopers are up to.

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A trooper’s poem…

Wake up early
Pack my gear
Drive 2 hours
Get to site
Put on 20 lbs. of plastic armor
Walk out
Put a smile on a child’s face
Make a parents day
Mission Accomplished!

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Episode I: The Phantom Menace Poll Time

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Mission Report: Vulcan Events 2011

This past year I had the opportunity to visit my first Star Trek convention. The thing is though, I was invited as a 501st legion member. The origanizer wanted Star Wars characters at his Star Trek convention. That was an opportunity I could not pass up!! This is my mission report as first posted on Geekmom.com and Geekdad.com. Enjoy!!

The 501st legion had a strong presence at Vulcan Events: Away Mission Orlando.  The legion table was located outside of Patrick Stewart’s photo op room and across from Richard Hatch.

Dakster Sullivan with Richard Hatch (Day 1)

I felt bad for Richard Hatch because he really wasn’t feeling well on Saturday. He was still a really nice, down to earth guy and it was really cool talking to him. To top it off, yes ladies he looks just as good off screen as he does on screen.

Dakster Sullivan and Richard Hatch (Day 2)

On Saturday, I followed some of the legion around and took pics, but for the most part everyone was there for only one reason…Patrick Stewart. The line for autographs extended almost into the hotel lobby and the line for photos was almost extended into the autograph line. People lined up for hours for a thirty second meet and greet of a lifetime.

The vendor room was small but mighty. There were vendors selling everything from cosplay merchandise to science fiction movie toys. I bought a Gremlin for my desk and a picture of Patrick Stewart. One of our legion members was a vendor so we stopped by to say hi. His booth neighbor just happened to be in the 501st Great Lakes Garrison.

A friend and fellow legion member was kind enough to help me get a Patrick Stewart autograph ticket. After lunch we bummed over to the line and waited for over an hour. Once I got up to Patrick Stewart I was so star struck I just gave him my picture and said thank you. After we got our autographs we took charge of the table and let everyone else go and experience the convention. The Imperial Officer (Gaines Tidwell) decided to throw us a curve ball and transformed into Indiana Jones. His outfit was great and added a little more confusion to the convention. Later we caught him and a Jawa fighting over the candy and cookies we had on the table.

There were some panels going on, but I’ll be honest, I didn’t go. I was more interested in taking pictures of the celebrities and looking at the vendors. I stopped into the panels a few times and it was pretty quiet. A nice change to the overcrowded panel rooms of Megacon and DragonCon.

On Sunday, my husband and son tagged along and that was when the real fun began. I suited up in my Clone and took to the con. The photographer for Patrick Stewart was kind enough to let me use his room to suit up in. It takes 2 people to suit me up and about 10 minutes. My husband is a huge help with my speaker / mic system and putting together my gun. My son likes to hand me each piece as I need it and its nice to have his participation as well. Trooping has become a family activity that we all enjoy. Before we left the room the photographer asked to take some pictures of me on the backdrop he was using for Patrick Stewart. The pictures turned out amazing! I walked out of the room and took charge of the area. I really enjoy putting on my clone because it brings out all the things about me that I cannot seem to pull out without its help.

Our first stop was the autograph room. As we walked back the line for Patrick Stewart’s photo opp, I turned to the line and yelled “Is this the line for Mark Hamill?” Some of the remarks I got were simply “Nope, Patrick Stewart.” Another guest yelled back “Wrong movie. Come on over here, we will convert you.” We thought otherwise.

We moved on into the autograph room and that is where the real excitement started. Imagine this…a room full of celebrities…and you’re the one with the line! The moment I walked into that room, people were coming up to me for pictures. I even saw a little girl dressed as Padme (at this point I feel it necessary to remind you I was at a Star Trek convention).

Kevin and I were in there for at least an hour. I chatted with Phil Morris (Smallville) who said my costume was the best he has ever seen (my confidence grew x 100). My husband was in awe of Morris because he loves all things Smallville.

My son, Brandon, six years old, was in love with one of the authors. The moment he saw her, he fell in love. When she was setting up her table he asked her to share her snack and then he walked in between the tables to give her a bug hug. Unfortunately, I did not catch her name, but I know my son captured her heart. I don’t know why he fell in love, but she welcomed the hugs with open arms. When he was walking the autograph tables with Daddy, Armin Shimerman (Star Trek: DS9) signed a trading card for him. My husband was grateful for the autograph and I later took him one of my own trading cards as a thank you.Convert us...no...blast you...yes

The line for Patrick Stewart was next to nothing so I was told I could jump in and say hi. Since I was in my clone, I wasn’t so scared and jumped in. When I finally got up to him, I said hi. He replied “Whoa you’re scary. I want to see you without the helmet.” I have a saying that when Captain Picard asks you to do something, you do it. I lifted up my helmet so he could see my face (but in a way that any kids around could not) “Ohh very pretty. Much better. You don’t need the helmet.”

Confidence boost x 1000.

We left the room to get our fellow legion members and when returned, we were the hit of the party.

Picture taken by Brian Sullivan

Jewel Staite was a gem and even came out from her table to take pics with all of us. She made Gaines day when she took a really neat picture with him. She made his year with this picture!

I am very proud of my legion family.

This was our first visit to Vulcan Events and I have to say it’s a definite must do troop next year. The celebrities were all down to earth and friendly. My son definitely gave us all some laughs. The people that we as adults were star struck over, my son just saw normal people that he wanted to play with. The convention was nothing like what I have experienced at other events. It was very down to earth and laid back. A big thanks to Vulcan Events for inviting the 501st legion. Our presence excited some of the visitors and confused others. Mission Complete!!

For more pictures, please visit my photo album.

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501st Legion and Me

501st logo

Some people dreamed of growing up to be a storm trooper and some of us actually made it there. Since February 2011, I have been a proud and active member in the 501st Legion also known as Vader’s Fist.

The 501st legion is a worldwide professional costuming club that specializes in the “bad guys” of the Star Wars universe. We never charge for appearances and have shown up to everything from charity walks to formal weddings. In the past 12 years, the 501st Legion has grown to more than 5,000 active members worldwide.

As stated in Article 1 of the Legion Charter“…The Legion is an all-volunteer organization formed for the express purpose of bringing together costume enthusiasts under a collective identity within which to operate. The Legion seeks to promote interest in Star Wars through the building and wearing of quality costumes, and to facilitate the use of these costumes for Star Warsrelated events as well as contributions to the local community through costumed charity and volunteer work…” 

Left to right: Zach Winnermark, Dakster Sullivan, Dave Young, and Yoda – Galactic Academy member. Attending Autism Walk 2011


There is no cost involved in applying or staying active in the legion. The bare requirements are being at least 18 years of age and owning a movie quality costume from one of the Star Wars films. The legion also accepts costumes from the expanded universe such as the books and video games. For a complete listing of costumes currently accepted by the legion, take a look at the visual guides.


To get into the legion is no laughing matter and for some it takes years of blood, sweat, tears and financial planning. My husband, Brian, has been working on a Jango Fett for the past year and he is still not done yet. Others have it a little easier and complete their builds (costume) in a matter of months. My animated clone trooper build took 5 months. With the expertise and guidance of Zach Winnermark, Dave Young and Shawn Oudit of the Florida Garrison, my clone trooper Denal was brought to life.

Since, I first received my helmet, it has been an adventure. I have learned patience, confidence and most of all I have made lasting friendships and touched the lives of children and adults. There is nothing like stepping out and seeing the look of amazement on a child’s face. It’s great to see the adults jumping up and down at our arrival as well.

Paul Button, Lake Eola Step it up for Down syndrome

Marching in parades is a fun past time of many troopers. Some parades we can be a little more relaxed and have fun with the spectators. In other parades we are instructed to act as a military unit (no waving or interaction with spectators). When the legion was invited to participate in the Rose Bowl parade in 2007, George Lucas was very specific on how he wanted everyone to look. To achieve a military look, he had all 200 legion members participating work with military drill instructors for 2 days.

For other events, such as Star Wars weekends at Hollywood Studios – Orlando, Florida, we might get together and decide to go military or just wing it. It takes a lot of skill and practice to pull it off.

Dakster and her son Brandon

My 6-year-old son tells everyone that his mommy is a clone trooper. While marching in the motorcade during Star Wars weekends, I saw him jumping up and down from the side lines yelling “Mommy!” Sometimes he suits up as Captain Rex and troops alongside me. He is also very quick to correct people when they call me a storm trooper.

Conventions are another fun thing we participate in. There are many throughout the world that we attend. My home town favorites are MegaconDragonconVulcan Events: Away Mission Orlando and Star Wars Celebration. Suiting up for these events is sometimes half the fun. At Megacon this past year I suited up in my hotel across the street and walked all the way into the convention center and then some to get to our booth. My total time suited up ended up being around four and half hours. It’s also interesting to see others have fun with their costumes and not always go movie accurate at events. My husband, for

Dakster and Brian

example, only had his Jango Fett helmet completed around Megacon, so he improvised and trooped along side me as “Mob Boss Jango”.

Some of my favorite moments include talking to others while suited up. The first reaction of most people after hearing my voice is usually “it’s a girl!” One mom in an effort to explain why I sounded like a girl to her children said I was Princess Leia in disguise. My reaction is usually to laugh, but inside I’m proud. I worked hard to get to the moment of stepping out in front of the crowds and serving the empire and I hope to continue for a long time.

For more information and to find your local 501st garrison, please visit www.501st.com

Have you had a run in with the empire? Share your stories with us in the comment section.