In addition to the 501st Legion uniting Star Wars fans worldwide, it also likes to recognize those people who contribute their time and talents to the Star Wars community in special way. These people who support of the 501st and Star Wars fandom are called “Friends of the 501st Legion.”
During San Diego Comic-Con International 2009, one such person was recognized by the Southern California Garrison for his continual support of the 501st Legion as well as for his undying love for all things Star Wars — Heroes actor Milo Ventimiglia.
Already well-known as a hardcore Star Wars fan as well as a fan of the 501st, Milo also supports real-life troops fighting overseas by working with the military veterans organization Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA).
Southern California Garrison XO Lesley Farquhar, who sponsored Milo’s induction, had this to say about their newest Friend of the 501st:
“Milo Ventimiglia has been a great Star Wars fan for years. Not only does he have fun with the lightsaber battles and props, but another similarity we have is our devotion to charity work. The 501st Legion is noted for its charity work for soldiers around the world, and this is something Milo has a passion for as well. Anyone with that kind of passion for charity and love for the genre fits right in! Now we just need to get him in armor!”
Milo was presented a custom plaque, coin and custom name badge commemorating his “Friend of the 501st” relationship with the 501st Legion. Keeping with tradition, the induction was a complete surprise to Milo who was ambushed by the Southern California garrison, and myself, at the end of his Top Cow comics panel at Comic-Con where he was promoting the two new comic titles his production company DiViDe Pictures is supporting — Rest and Berserker.
Milo was then escorted by troopers from the Southern California Garrison from his comics panel to his signing at the Top Cow booth on the convention floor; creating quite the photo op for fans waiting for him to arrive. At the end of the escort, Milo shook hands with all the troopers and shouted to the crowd, “Who loves a stormtrooper?!” to thunderous applause.
Starwars.com chats with Milo about his induction and why he’s honored to be officially part of the 501st Legion.
How did the 501st ambush you at Comic-Con to induct you?
I was finishing up a panel with Top Cow and on my way to a comic signing when I saw them come in the back door. Then I saw you, Bonnie, and had to stop to see what was up. You said the 501st was going to escort me to the signing, but there was something else before that happened. I was truly shocked what came out of your mouth next about the induction.
Was it a complete surprise? What was going through your mind?
I was pretty surprised. I have a box of Star Wars toys that my parents just fished out of the shed with all the Lukes and Leias and Hans and stormtroopers I used to play with — and now I’m looking at the 501st members. I had all these guys as action figures and now they’re standing life-size in front of me. That was going through my mind and it made me want to cry.
Why are you proud to be part of the 501st Legion?
I know this isn’t something to take lightly and they don’t induct just anyone in. I feel like I get to carry on the tradition and pass the legacy of the 501st to those that are in awe as I was.
Read more about Milo and his love for Star Wars:
- More photos:
Milo Ventimiglia 501st Legion Induction
- Milo’s Profile on Starwars.com:
Milo Ventimiglia: Lightsabers, Luke and Heroes
- Milo’s lightsaber fan film:
Milo Ventimiglia’s Lightsaber Duels