The 501st Legion's Empire City Garrison and the Florida Garrison were invited on an all expense paid trip to Amman Jordan to celebrate the release of Star Wars : The Rise of Skywalker. This was sponsored and organized by the Royal Jordanian Film Commission, to celebrate the first Star Wars premier in the country and bring attention to the fact that a large portion of the movie was filmed in the Jordanian Desert. 10 members were selected, 5 from each garrison, and they were asked to leave on December 15th 2019 and return on December 20th 2019. This was a huge undertaking, but the opportunity of a lifetime.
The visit included multiple troops over the 4 days we were in Jordan. The Mission Report is broken down into 5 parts to capture each distinct troop, with associated photos and details. This was an adventure that was both grueling and ultimately incredibly rewarding. We were proud to represent the USA, 501st Legion, and the Star Wars brand in Jordan.
Chris Feehan (TK-6744)
Anthony Garzone (TK- 55933)
Joe Mantello (SL-91452)
Ted Moy (TA-6298)
Erick Spader (TK-35811)
FL Garrison Attendees:
Jennifer Andersson (TI- 88392)
David Gray (TK- 71377)
Alex Mackey (TR -42123)
Cathy Mehrl (DZ- 5954)
Danny Tito (TD- 19761)
Troop #1 – Amman Airport
As members of both garrisons arrived on Monday, December 16th 2019 they were greeted by the coordinators and staff from the RJFC and right at Customs, they were able to skip the line and went into separate changing areas. The airport staff was friendly and offered them tea and water as a welcoming gesture. Chris Feehan (TK-6744) was not able to participate due to his flight being later but the other 9 501st Members were assembled in time. They got suited up and were escorted to the baggage area where tourists and staff members took photos. They then proceeded to the main exit where the Imperial March was playing on the airport's main speakers as they entered. Dozens of fans waited until 10pm when they finally got to meet the group and welcome them. They marched around that area and headed back to the changing area after 45mins – 1hr.
Currently we only have a few photos and only one in costume, but we hope to get more from the RJFC once their professional photos are released to us. Everyone can't imagine how difficult it must have been as the trip took over 20hrs. To suit up after must have been a real challenge. The RJFC was very appreciative and excited by the initial reactions the characters were getting. The best however was yet to come with the 4 other troops.
One side note, Chris Feehan's armor got a bit damaged in transport, but thanks to Danny from the FL Garrison, we were able to make some field repairs and they held up through the remaining 4 troops. I am eternally grateful for Danny’s help, disaster averted.
Troop #2 – King Hussein Cancer Center Visit
The group spent the entire day on Tuesday, December 17th 2019 reviewing the logistics of what was to occur on Wednesday, December 18th 2019 to ensure they all had an idea of what was expected, and to ensure it was something they could handle. They visited the RJFC offices and went over the timeline. They then visited each of the locations they would be visiting the following day, starting with the King Hussein Cancer Center and the Children’s wing. They went over what we would be doing and where They would be visiting. On the day 12/18 they were provided two changing rooms and they were asked to suit up by 10am to visit the children’s play area, visit some children in their rooms, and visit the Hall of Heroes activity center. It was an incredibly profound and rewarding experience as they interacted with the children, gave out trading cards, and took photos with them. Two US Embassy ambassadors stopped by to check on them and had us hold a sign with the USAinJo hashtag, promoting the cooperation between our two countries. The RJFC and the Hospital were very appreciative and put together a video which perfectly captures the wonderful impact we had there. They then suited down, and headed to lunch, then onto the next location, City Mall.
Troop #3 – City Mall Visit
On Wednesday December 18th 2019 after the Hospital visit and lunch, they headed to City Mall, a huge mall in the heart of Amman. They were provided a large changing room and they were asked to suit up by 2pm to march around the mall and take photos in the main square. They marched around the entire Mall for over 1/2 hour with the Imperial March and Star Wars theme blasting as onlookers took photos. They then ended up in the center of the mall for the next hour in an area where we could interact with the patrons, give out trading cards, and take photos with them. They were very enthusiastic and excited to see us and the reception was extremely positive. The two US Embassy ambassadors stopped by again to check on us and have us hold a sign with the USAinJo hash tag, promoting the cooperation between our two countries. The RJFC and the mall staff were very appreciative and shared some photos on their respective sites, some of which you can see below. They then suited down, and headed to the final location for the day, the Taj Cinema and Mall.
Troop #4 – Movie Premier – Taj Cinema
On Wednesday December 18th 2019 after the City Mall visit headed to Taj Cinema and Mall, another huge mall in Amman. They were provided an empty theater to change and they were asked to suit up by 5pm to march around the mall and take photos in the main square, before going to the red carpet premier. They marched around the entire Mall for over 1/2 hour with the Imperial March and Star Wars theme blasting as onlookers took photos. They then ended up in the center of the mall for the next 1/2 hour in an area where we could interact with the patrons, give out trading cards, and take photos with them. They were very enthusiastic and excited to see them and the reception was extremely positive. They were then brought back to the changing area to wait about 45 minutes until 7pm to be part of the excitement on the red carpet. While waiting, they also presented 10 Trivia contest winners with passes to the premier. They then made a grand entrance to the premier as photographers and guests excitedly took photos and selfies as they entered. The two US Embassy ambassadors stopped by again to check on us and have us hold a sign with the USAinJo hash tag, promoting the cooperation between our two countries. They then went upstairs to the VIP area to greet some of the Jordanian Royal Family and other important guests. Some of the Jordanian Royal Family also stopped by our changing area before we suited down to take some shots in private as well. The RJFC and the movie theater owner were very appreciative and shared some photos on their respective sites, some of which you can see below. They then suited down, and headed to see the movie ourselves. Needless to say they were all very exhausted at this point but they managed. After the premier they also got to see the Sand Speeder they had on display that was actually used in the film before heading back. The next day was their final troop at the Wadi Rum desert, where the first part of the movie was filmed, they could not wait.
Troop #5 – Wadi Rum Desert Set Visit and Photo Shoot
On Thursday December 18th 2019 after their big trooping day we headed out at 7am to Wadi Rum Desert, which was a 4-5 hour ride from their hotel each way. Wadi Rum was the location used for the world of Pasana, featured in the Rise of Skywalker. It has been used in such films as the Martian due to its Mars like look, and in films such as Lawrence of Arabia and the recent Aladdin film. Their first stop was a cliff where one of the initial shots from the film was shot, as the cast looks down upon a festival on the planet. The RJFC chose this spot to do the photo shoot with all 10 of them, so they suited up right there in the sand. The scale and scope of this place is astounding, where they were was over an hour off the main road and there was nothing but desert in every direction as far as the eye could see. It made for an epic location for photos, some of which you can see below. All of them were incredibly moved being at one of the filming locations and having the opportunity to suit up there. They were all still recovering from the day before but pressed on for this once in a lifetime opportunity. After about 90 minutes of photos they suited down and headed to additional filming locations. They did not to suit up at the other locations; they just enjoyed the guided tour and took photos as they explained what scenes were filmed at each location. One of their final stops was the area used for the black quick sand scene from the movie. They all managed to find some of the remaining black plastic beads and black lima beans used for the quick sand. They all collected some samples with the permission of the RJFC staff to bring home. It was a long ride back as their adventure came to an end, but they were all simply astounded that we had this opportunity. Our groups would like to thank everyone from Disney/Lucasfilm and the Royal Jordanian Film Commission who made this possible and treated us so well. The RJFC was thrilled with the trip overall and the photos they got along the way. They promised to share as many as possible as soon as they are available, but in the meantime, you can see some of our personal photos below. On Friday, December 19th 2019 it was back to reality and they all headed home. They made some new friends between the garrison members and they all shared an amazing unique experience they will never forget.
A huge shoutout and thank you to Chris Feehan for writing this mission report that detailed an epic experience for members of the Empire City Garrison and the Florida Garrison. And again a huge thanks for Disney/Lucasfilm and the Royal Jordanian Film Commission for putting this all together.