Get to Know Your MI501st :: December, 2011

Jerry Russell
Legion ID: 9317
Joined July, 2007

Jerry has been a fan of Star Wars since the first time he saw the toys on the store shelves in 1978. He had not seen the movie yet but it was the toys that caught his attention, especially the action figures. They were really cool, he thought as a kid. It was not until late in the school year of '78 that he saw Star Wars for the first time on what was a weekend field trip of sorts organized by his 4th grade teacher who most have been a big fan of the film. Parents and children met at their school and car pooled to Toledo to see the movie at what was then the Greenwood Mall. He was hooked. "To see your toys come to life on the big screen and find out who was who was just amazing", says Jerry.

Since then, Jerry has been a Star Wars fan boy. "Looking back I can say that the movies really had an impact on me. I remember drawing, pictures in art class from elementary all the way through high school of scenes from the movies and characters, I dressed up like a Jawa one year for Halloween after I talked my grandma into sewing me a costume. The costume was a little big on me but that worked out because the next year I used that same costume to dress up as a Jedi. I wasted tons of money on toys, trading cards, and Star Wars arcade games and collectibles", says Jerry.

One year he came across an old dusty Don Post Vader Helmet in an antique shop and picked it up right before Halloween. Turned out to come in handy as he and his wife Gina (DZ-9377) dress up for a Halloween party that year as Darth Waiter and Princess Tray-a. "We had a blast. Gina had the Leia wig, white dress, order pad, and a "tray" that a waitress would carry around and I had a white shirt, black pants, Star Wars tie, order pad and apron. It was a lot of fun", says Jerry.

Jerry has always loved Star Wars and dressed up as a character here and there, as a kid or as a gag, but that all changed on January 1st, 2007. I could not believe my eyes, says Jerry. "There were hundreds of Stormtroopers marching in the New Years Day Rose Parade, it was amazing". Turns out, it was the 501st Legion. Jerry started doing some research on the group and six months later he too was a member and for his second event he walked with the 501st Legion, Midwest Garrison, Michigan Squad in the Americas Thanksgiving Day Parade right here in Detroit.

Since joining, Jerry has trooped over 80 events from birthday parties, Comic Cons, to School Fund raisers to performing on stage with Weird Al Yankovic four times, but when asked what his favorite event has been he says Celebration V. It was during this event that he was one of nine stormtroopers that were used to introduce television personality and host of The Daily Show Jon Stewart for the interview he conducted with Mr. George Lucas. "It was truly amazing to participate in that event", says Jerry. "After the interview Mr. Lucas stopped by to say hello to us, we got to spend a few moments with him and got to take a couple photos. I was very lucky to meet him and he was very enjoyable".

Jerry has three Legion approved Star Wars costumes. A Stormtrooper, Tusken Raider, and he was the first approved Rum Sleg in the Legion. Rum Sleg is a bounty hunter from Episode 1. When asked if he is planning another costume, Jerry says, "Well, I think all members of our group are always thinking about what their next costume is going to be and in some cases it is not Star Wars, but for me it would have to be a Snowtrooper. It is Michigan after all!"

Being a member of the 501st Legion has become a family affair for Jerry and his family. His wife Gina recently joined the legion as an official member as a female tusken raider and his son Zane has a tusken child costume and his daughter Elora has a Jawa costume. "We get to dress up as a family and have tons of fun with other members of the garrison whose wives and children participate too. It is always fun".

When Jerry is not imposing the will of the empire, he works as a Labor Relations Representative in automotive manufacturing. He has earned a BBA from Siena Heights University in HR Management. He enjoys vacationing with his family to Cocoa Beach and Disney, summers relaxing on the deck, multimedia painting, and photography.

View Jerry's profile...

All Featured Troopers:

Apr '19: Mathew May
Oct '12: Joel Aldrich
Aug '12: Scott Jones
Jul '12: Rob Miller
Jun '12: Jennifer Rodriquez
May '12: Julie Balk
Apr '12: Derek Lane-Waters
Mar '12: Zachary Titus
Jan '12: Carrie Ivey
Nov '10: Carl Nelson
Oct '10: Michael Arnold
Sep '10: Chris Brown
Aug '10: Justin Overholt
Jun '10: Rome Ohnui
May '10: Jackie Wagensomer
Apr '10: Shannon Trombley
Mar '10: Aaron Combs
Feb '10: Martin Pondell
Jan '10: Amanda Raimondo
Nov '09: Robert Amid
Oct '09: Tiffany Murphy
The 501st Legion is a worldwide Star Wars costuming organization comprised of and operated by Star Wars fans. While it is not sponsored by Lucasfilm Ltd., it is Lucasfilm's preferred Imperial costuming group. Star Wars, its characters, costumes, and all associated items are the intellectual property of Lucasfilm. © 2024 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All rights reserved. Used under authorization.