The 501st Journal were entries based on clone troopers from the famed legion about their thoughts and feelings about the battles, summarizing the events. It traces from when the 501st during the final years of the Clone Wars to the victory on Hoth. The entries were primarily recorded by a retired clone trooper.
My first day as a member of the 501st... it was hot, sandy, chaotic and nothing at all like the simulations on Kamino. Of course that's pretty much the way it was for all of us, wasn't it? All that breeding, all those years of training... it doesn't really prepare you for the all the screaming, all the blood, does it? Frankly I'm still amazed we ever made it past the first hour, nevermind the first day."
"Incredibly, the 501st survived the crucible of Geonosis, emerging battle-hardened and ready for whatever the war would throw at us.
In the waning months of the Clone Wars, the 501st faced missions critical to the agenda of Chancellor Palpatine. When we arrived at the bombed-out ruins of Mygeeto, our Jedi commander believed we had been sent to take out a droid energy collector. What Ki-Adi-Mundi didn't know however was that our unit of the 501st was really after an experimental Mygeetan power source that the Chancellor wanted for his "superlaser." Keeping Mundi in the dark wasn't easy; the Jedi had become increasingly wary of the Chancellor's doings, and were on the lookout for the slightest hint of treachery. Just like the rest of them though, he never caught a whiff of what was really going on until it was far too late."
"The success of the mission on Mygeeto was something of a revelation for the men of the 501st. Suddenly, we realized that the Jedi could be fooled. And if they could be fooled, they could be killed.
As the Clone Wars progressed, more and more ground-based legions found themselves pressed into space combat, including the fighting forces of the 501st. For months, every hour of our downtime was spent in the simulator, preparing for the time we would face our enemies from the cockpit of a 170. Finally the day came to earn our wings. The CIS had staged a daring kidnapping of Chancellor Palpatine, and was being escorted from Coruscant by a fleet of Separatist ships. With only a few veteran pilots on-planet, many of the 501st were pressed into service to drive off the Seps and buy time for a pair of Jedi Knights to rescue the Chancellor."
"After disabling the final capital ship, General Kenobi and Skywalker took advantage of the opportunity we'd created and rescued the Chancellor. Took all the credit, too.
It's been said that the 501st got the best of the war. We also got the worst. On Felucia, the Seps dug their metal heels into the muck of that alien hellhole and dared the Republic to come in after them. So we did, only to be met with month after month of flesh-eating diseases, shrieking nocturnal predators, and other sights that haunt me to this day. Cut off and, for all we knew, abandoned by our superiors, our only hope was Aayla Secura, our Jedi commander. Without her iron will, none of us would have come out of that mess with our sanity or our lives. When her death came, I hope it was quick. She earned that much."
"When the 501st was finally rotated out of Felucia, Aayla Secura made a point of seeing us off personally, calling us "the bravest soldiers she had ever seen." It's a good thing we were wearing helmets, because none of us could bear to look her in the eye.
When the Separatists' invasion of Kashyyyk caught the Republic flatfooted, a detachment of the 501st was sent in to stop the bleeding until reinforcements could arrive. It was a textbook suicide mission and we knew it. As we fought our way into Kashyyyk's atmosphere, most of us believed that the only way we'd be getting off this planet was in a body bag."
"As the 501st finally broke through the Sep blockade over Kashyyyk, I took a long look back at the battle that continued to rage over the planet, and wondered why so many had to die for a bunch of walking carpets. Then I followed my orders, and turned planetward.
When we arrived on Kashyyyk, things were just as bad as we'd feared. The droids had us outgunned, outmaneuvered, and outmanned by a five-to-one margin. What none of us had counted on was the Wookiees. We'd all heard the stories, of course, but we'd never fought next to them, never seen them rip apart a droid with their bare hands. They were magnificent. Even so it was still a suicide mission. At least it was until Master Yoda arrived. Then it became a battle. A winnable battle."
"With the timely arrival of Master Yoda, the 501st was able to hold the line against the Seps on Kashyyyk. We left as heroes. Years later, we'd return as conquerors.
In our bones, we knew the war was almost over. The Galaxy held its breath, waiting to see which side would make the final daring move. As fortune would have it, the Republic moved first. After the Chancellor informed the Jedi Council that General Grievous and the Sep leaders were hiding on Utapau, General Kenobi gathered an army large enough to capture three star systems. When the orders reached the 501st, our morale soared. For better or worse, this would be the beginning of the end."
"With the death of General Grievous at the hands of General Kenobi, the Utapau raid had broken the back of the Separatists. Under normal circumstances, it would have been a time for celebration. But our next orders put paid to those thoughts.
What I remember about the rise of the Empire is... is how quiet it was. During the waning hours of the Clone Wars, the 501st Legion was discreetly transferred back to Coruscant. It was a silent trip. We all knew what was about to happen and what we were about to do. Did we have any doubts? Any private, traitorous thoughts? Perhaps, but no one said a word. Not on the flight back to Coruscant, not when Order 66 came down, and not when we marched into the Jedi Temple. Not a word."
"With the fall of Coruscant and the elimination of the traitorous Jedi, Palpatine's rise to power was complete. In recognition of our service and loyalty to the Emperor, the 501st were placed under the direct command of Lord Vader. Armed with deadly new weapons, blazing new ships, and shining new armor, our presence let the galaxy know that the days of the Old Republic were well and truly over. We were establishing a new era, an era of order and peace.
During the rise of the Empire, the Emperor's home planet of Naboo rapidly established itself as a major irritant. After a number of Naboo's ambassadors were sent home in various states of dismemberment, her newly elected Queen broke off diplomatic ties, and began exploring military options. Clearly it was time for a regime change, a change that would be effected by the 501st, now under the direct command of Darth Vader. Our orders were simple: to infiltrate the city and take out their leader, sending a clear signal to other potential troublemakers in the Empire."
"With the Queen eliminated, Naboo quickly fell in line. It was the first time the 501st was called upon to "adjust" a planet's government, but it wouldn't be the last. Within months, the 501st gained a well-deserved reputation as "Vader's Fist".
Although the Clone Wars were over, some people never seemed to get the message. The worst case of denial was Gizor Delso, a Geonosian Separatist who'd somehow escaped Lord Vader's efforts to wipe out the remnants of the CIS. Lord Vader tracked him to Mustafar and brought us in to finish the job. It seemed like a simple enough mission, but when we saw the fleet of droid ships hovering over the planet, we suddenly realized that Dellso's denial mechanisms were more dangerous than we'd imagined."
"The slight whiff of nostalgia the 501st had enjoyed fighting the droid fleet over Mustafar had already grown sour by the time we'd established orbital positions. Now it was time to find out what this was all about.
By the time we'd made our way to the molten surface of Mustafar, it was apparent that Delso had been a busy little bug. All by his lonesome, he'd found a previously hidden droid factory, fired it up and cranked out his own private army of battle droids. Needless to say, this got the men of the 501st a little hot under the helmet, and not just because of all that lava. Truth be told we'd all had our fill of those gear heads during the war, and we couldn't stomach the thought of going through another one. So we blew them up. Blew up the droids, blew up the factory, @#!*% near blew up the planet."
"The destruction of the mining facility put an end to any thoughts of a second droid rebellion. For the first time in years, the men of the 501st could relax and get about the business of maintaining an Empire, rather than building one.
Officially, there never was a clone rebellion on Kamino. Unofficially, approximately twenty years after we were created, a special detachment of the Imperial 501st Legion was dispatched to Kamino, with orders to eradicate an army of clones that had been bred to take arms against the Empire. Our mission commander, an expert on the inner workings of Kamino, was a young bounty hunter named Boba Fett…"
"The bounty hunter left after the battle. He said something about tracking down a smuggler on Tatooine. After the Kamino uprising, the Emperor decided an army of genetically identical soldiers was too susceptible to corruption. Future clones would be bred from a variety of templates. Though the 501st itself remained pure, the rest of the Imperial Army gradually became more and more diverse. We never really got used to the new guys.
Once it was finally finished, the Death Star was the Emperor's favorite toy. It was also the most boring assignment in the galaxy for a stormtrooper. Tedious inspection drills, endless hours of guarding impregnable force field generators. Things got so bad that when a prison break erupted in the cellblock, we were almost happy to have someone shooting at us again. If only we had known what an embarrassing snipestorm we were about to wade into, we probably would have jettisoned the whole detention block into space."
"After the embarrassment of the prison break, Lord Vader removed us from our comfortable billet, and began dragging the 501st across the galaxy in a dangerous hunt for the now-missing Death Star plans. Ironically, our punishment eventually proved to be our salvation. The poor souls who took our place in the detention area were completely wiped out when the Death Star was destroyed.
By the time of the raid on Polis Massa, the men of the 501st were starting to get a little sick of this so called "Rebellion". In the past, we'd secretly enjoyed putting down a local insurrection or two; they kept the troops sharp and the Empire feared. But these Rebels were different; they were organized, they were growing, and they were everywhere. The raid on Polis Massa was a perfect example of how things were starting to fall apart. We were supposed to go in, wipe out a small band of Rebels, and recover some stolen Imperial plans on an encrypted holodisk. Before we knew it, we were nearly overrun by Rebel forces, with the holodisk nowhere to be found."
"Even though the Polis Massa raid was only a partial success, we finally had a lead on the whereabouts of the Death Star plans, which suited the 501st just fine.
With the information gathered on Polis Massa, Vader concluded that the stolen plans had been given to Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan. We weren't surprised. For all their talk of being a peaceful planet, Alderaan had been thumbing its nose at the Empire for years. After a brief and pointless battle, we boarded the ship, the Tantive IV, over Tatooine, began looking for the plans, and waited for Lord Vader's arrival."
"After Lord Vader took custody of Princess Leia, we all figured it was just a matter of time before she coughed up the plans. Many of us had been unwilling witnesses to Vader's powers or persuasion in the past. The thought of a pampered little princess resisting his terrible will was inconceivable.
When the Death Star was destroyed, about half of the 501st Legion was still in the hangar getting to their ships. Of those who made it out, another third were caught in the explosion. I'd fought with some of those men for over twenty years. Afterwards, those of us that survived hooked up with a nearby Imperial fleet making a retaliatory strike on the Rebel's base on Yavin IV. It wasn't the best thought-out plan, but we were cut off from our leaders, tired, and operating on instinct. If not for our training, we probably would've never gotten past their orbital defenses."
"And so the battle over Yavin came to an end. I'm told we destroyed hundreds of Rebel ships that day. Even if it had been thousands, it wouldn't have made up for the Death Star.
By the time we landed on Yavin, whatever shock we'd felt at the destruction of the Death Star had been replaced by anger. For months we'd treated the Rebellion like a disobedient child, only to be repaid for our tolerance with treachery on an unimaginable scale. Frankly, I don't remember much of the fighting. I guess we won."
"After the battle, the surviving members of the 501st finally caught their breath. The Empire had taken the Rebel's best shot and come up standing. Now it was our turn to strike.
No one ever complained about the cold on Hoth. We never felt it. Even though we were blinded by blizzards, we could see the final end of the Rebellion in our blaster sights. Was it only a mirage? Perhaps. But on that day, on that planet, our blood ran hot with dreams of victory, melting the ice that stood in our way."
"As the Rebels fled, the 501st gathered around a burning bunker and let out a cheer that shook the stars. The Rebellion was done, the Death Star was being rebuilt, bigger than ever. Order had finally returned to the Galaxy, in no small part due to the efforts of the fighting men of the 501st.