A Secret Group Of Veterans Played Rebels In The New ‘Star Wars’ Movie

Entertainment
A screenshot via YouTube from the trailer for "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story."

It doesn’t matter if you’re the most badass guy on the planet, if you grew up dueling with blasters and sabers in an imaginary galaxy far far away, you’ll always be a Star Wars fan.


Which means it must have been really frigging tough for a group of service members and veterans who signed on to play rebels in “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” but couldn’t tell anyone about it.

For the newest installment in the franchise, the filmmakers recruited current and former service members from the Royal Navy, the British Army, and the Royal Air Force to play rebel troops, according to a press release from the British military. The service members and veterans signed a nondisclosure agreement and were barred from speaking about the set, the plot, or what they did while working on the film.

Related: How The Star Wars Franchise Started As A Commentary On American Imperialism »

What we do know is that the producers enlisted 40 current and former service members after the Soldier in Blue talent agency sent out a request for helicopter and jet pilots between the ages of 25 and 55. Military pilots, instructors, ammunition loaders, and ground troops were transformed into X-wing pilots, rebel ground crewmen, and whatever the Star Wars are the equivalent of Marines.

The first time the service members and veterans heard the offer, most of them thought it was a joke.

“When our [commanding officer] asked us if we wanted to be an extra in the next film during a morning brief, nobody put their hands up,” said one of the service members. “We all thought it must be a wind-up. It took him most of the day to convince us that he really did know someone who was looking for a body of men to mill around in the background and do what they were told.”

According to the British magazine Mirror, many of the troops who eventually signed on had served in combat; some as helicopter pilots and crews in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a few alongside Prince Harry, himself an Apache helicopter pilot.

Because the military actors were sworn to secrecy about their work on the film, it’s unclear exactly what they were tasked with doing, whether it was just “milling around,” as they said, or if they had the chance to hop behind the cockpit of an X-Wing. Many were thrilled just to be on set.

“All the guys on our squadron are massive Star Wars fans,” said one of the service members.

If nothing else, it’s good to hear that the newest installment, which hits theaters on Dec. 16, will feature real-life good guys stepping forward to battle the evil galactic empire.

Two Air Force pararescue Airmen were awarded the Silver Star Medal on Friday for saving dozens of lives during separate Afghan battles in 2018 and 2019.

Tech Sgt. Gavin Fisher and Staff Sgt. Daniel Swensen both received the third highest military award for their bravery. Fisher also received the Purple Heart for wounds received in combat.

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Chinese President Xi Jinping reviews the honor guards of the Chinese People's Liberation (PLA) Navy before boarding the destroyer Xining for the naval parade celebrating the 70th founding anniversary of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy in Qingdao, Shandong province, China April 23, 2019. Xinhua via REUTERS

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The newspaper reported on Sunday that one of the two Chinese officials is believed to be an intelligence officer operating under diplomatic cover.

The Chinese officials breached security at a base in Virginia this fall, and only stopped driving after fire trucks were used to block their path, the Times said.

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Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

President Donald Trump is set to announce the withdrawal of roughly 4,000 US troops from Afghanistan as early as next week, NBC News reported on Saturday based on conversations with three current and former officials.

This would come as the US is engaged in ongoing, troubled peace talks with the Taliban. The talks resumed in early December after Trump abruptly scrapped negotiations with the Taliban in September, only to be paused again this week after an attack near Bagram Airfield on Wednesday.

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Photo: National Archives

Thomas Hoke can still recall the weather in December 1944, and the long days that followed.

The battle started on Dec. 16, but his company arrived Dec. 27 and would stay there until the battle's end, nearly a month later. By the time he arrived, snow had blanketed Germany in what was one of the biggest storms the country had seen in years.

"It was 20 below and a heavy fog encompassed the whole area," Hoke, 96, recalled from his Emmitsburg home.

The fog was to Germany's advantage because Allied aircraft were grounded, including recognizance flights, allowing the Nazis to slip in.

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West Point is investigating a hand gesture made by several cadets and midshipmen during an ESPN pre-game broadcast at the Army-Navy game Saturday after clips of the signals went viral because of their association with white power.

"West Point is looking into the matter," a spokesperson said in an emailed statement. "At this time we do not know the intent of the cadets."

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