So I have never been asked before to write an entry into a blog. However, when I was approached by Anthony Paladino our CO and my Public Relations counterpart Danny Burke to create an entry I figured that I should give it a shot. For those of you who do not know me out there my real name is Steve Sheades. Many of you know me as my forum name starsaber25 as well as TK-10466. I have been tasked to create an entry to relay to the masses on how I got started in the 501st Legion and why I troop.
Well like for many of you it started when I was a young child which for me was probably around 7 years old. I was dropped off to my grandparent’s house for the day while my parents went out to work. I was in one of my grandparent’s room and there was a record player in there. I’m not going to get into what a record player is for all of you youngsters out there but for you it is an ancient technology that was used to listen to music. As I was looking for something to put on the record player I stumbled upon an Empire Strikes Back 45. The cover was the box art of the movie and it’s amazing how I remember it so clearly today. I put it on and was listening to it. I remember the music sounding awesome and I kept looking at the cover art. I thought it looked really cool and I knew I wanted to watch whatever movie this was. The next time I was taken to the “video store,” again another ancient thing for you youngsters where you used to go and rent movies for a day or two, I went searching for that movie I saw. I ended up grabbing a copy of The Return of the Jedi and brought it to my mom. She asked me if I was sure I wanted to watch something like this because it wasn’t Transformers, He-Man, or Thundercats. I said yes and we took it home. This is when it all started for me. I put on the movie and started watching it. And the ONLY thing I remember about it today was being hooked when I finally saw Darth Vader walking down the ramp of the shuttle. I remember being scared to death, I remember being amazed, and I remember thinking that this was the coolest thing ever!
So my fandom went on from there. I remember going to Disney World with my family and of course I always had to go on Star Tours. After the ride you would end up in the souvenir shop. They used to have the star wars masks in there for sale. I used to tease to get the stormtrooper helmet with the holes in the eyes relentlessly. Yeah that’s right. The stormtrooper helmet. Not the Darth Vader helmet or anything else. I just always wanted to be a stormtrooper. My parents would never spend the money on it for me and it sucked. But I knew that one day I would at some point get my stormtrooper helmet. Well finally that day came.
In 2011, I was on the internet and started searching for stormtrooper helmets and costumes. And you probably all know what happened. I found Jedi Robe and Rubies costumes. I thought the Jedi Robe costume was the coolest thing ever. After searching the internet for days and weeks and going back to Jedi Robe to look at the “cool” costume I finally stumbled upon my saving grace. The First Imperial Stormtrooper Detachment. I signed up and became a member. I spent months on the website looking around and researching. Unfortunately the researching led me to realize that I wouldn’t have the money to become part of the hobby yet. So after a few months I disappeared for 2.5 years with the thought of saving some money to finally do this. Finally around Halloween of 2013 I really started to get serious about getting a set of stormtrooper armor. I headed back to FISD and started researching again. I made my choices and finally bought a helmet and armor in the beginning of 2014. I spent the summer of 2014 putting it all together and spending every countless minute on FISD. It actually started to feel like a home for me after a while. I loved getting to “know” the members there and just being a part of a place that felt the same way as me about Star Wars and stormtroopers.
During that time of course I knew about the 501st Legion and even found out about the Empire City Garrison but since I am on such a remote outpost on the very east end of Long Island I never thought I would actually go out and troop. My goal was to make the most accurate stormtrooper armor possible with my skills and I was going to display in on a mannequin in my newly finished basement. Well I finally finished my build and submitted my application to the 501st Legion around the end of August 2014. I was approved and very happy about it. I was welcomed into the Empire City Garrison and the 501st Legion. However, for some reason I still never took to the idea that I was going to go out and troop and continued to spend most of my time over on FISD. I eventually submitted my applications for the higher levels of Expert Infantry and Centurion, which I obtained both levels. If was after this, when I realized that I was actually really done with my stormtrooper armor. But it made me think that I don’t just want this thing to sit on a mannequin and never wear it. I wanted to be a stormtrooper!
So believe it or not it wasn’t until a year later in the fall of 2015 that I started to visit the Empire City Garrison forum more regularly. I then finally signed up for my first troop. My first troop was going to be the Make-A-Wish Holiday Party in December 2015. And man was it one of the best things I had ever done in my life. I met two guys that day who welcomed me in and loved Star Wars as much or if not more than me. I really do appreciate how Chris Feehan and Ron Lares welcomed me that day. So from that point on I realized how magical this whole hobby is. The faces of the families and children that day had me sold that this is something I want to continue doing.
At this point I haven’t looked back. I have now met some really amazing people who I can now call friends. Everyone’s dedication to our mission in this garrison is really a notch above anything I have ever seen. I just finally reached my 10th troop, which I wish I could have done hundreds at this point. I hope that one day in the future I can spend more time volunteering with the Empire City Garrison. The excitement and joy that our hobby brings to people who come see us at events is unmatched. I owe a lot of people many thanks at this point for where I am today. Thanks to Chris and Ron for being so welcoming on my first day and making me realize that this is something I want to continue doing. Thanks to Anthony, for approaching me and asking me to come on the ECG Command Staff as Public Relations officer. I admire Anthony for his dedication as CO and the amount of passion he puts into it all. Thanks to Paul Hoeffer who is the FISD Founder, for bringing me onto FISD Staff this year as Provost Marshall. I am so happy to finally be able to give back to the two places that have led me on this incredible journey. And finally thanks to all of my brothers and sisters in the ECG for being so nice and welcoming to me and for being so dedicated to what we do as a volunteer organization. You all have become great friends. Troop on!
Steve Sheades (TK-10466)
Logo by Juan Jose Matamoros.