I have a fancy for flight. Always have. Or at least for as long as I can remember. Knowing that about me, I hope it comes as no surprise to you why I chose the characters I selected to represent the next two letters of the alphabet in my run through the ABCs of Star Wars. My allegiance leans toward the Rebels … so, again, it should come as no surprise to you that this month I chose three top-notch Rebel pilots to highlight “C” and “D”. They truly are worthy subjects, and I hope you enjoy learning something more about them [than what you might garner from those few seconds they appear on film]. 🙂
[I simply could not decide which pilot I wanted to represent the letter “C” so I indulged myself, and opted to talk about both flyboys who were finalists.]
To remind you — especially since it has been quite a while since my last “The ABCs of Star Wars” blog [February didn’t allow me a post] — I’m highlighting Star Wars characters who may be nothing more than a face in the crowd. We already know quite a bit about the main characters, and even some of the secondary characters. There is little I could add to your knowledge about them. However, because Star Wars is such a multi-layered story, and George Lucas created an incredible depth to the Star Wars Galaxy, I thought it would be fun to find characters about whom we know virtually nothing, and bring them to the forefront. Like I said, they might be only a face in the crowd or be onscreen for just a snippet of time, yet they have backstories. That’s what I want to explore in this series — to introduce us all to some of these characters who have helped shape Star Wars. In addition, you’ll know when I add my own suppositions about characters. Who among us hasn’t done that at least once or twice? 😉 So, without further adieu, let’s get this party started:
C … Of the three characters I will be highlighting this month, Tycho Celchu is the only pilot who survived the air battles in which he took part. This ace pilot was a graduate of the Imperial Naval Academy, and proudly served as a TIE fighter pilot. However, when the Death Star obliterated his home world of Alderaan from the galactic map, Celchu knew his allegiance was misplaced. It did not take him long to jump ship and join the Rebel Alliance. The Rebel leaders were thrilled to have such a seasoned pilot in their midst, and made him a member of the famed Rogue Squadron. Teamed with Tarn Mison as Rogue Five, the duo flew a snowspeeder in the Battle of Hoth. It’s during the Battle of Endor, however, where Star Wars fans get their first view of Tycho Celchu [played by Jake Farrell]. In the climactic battle, Celchu’s X-wing starfighter was out of commission so the veteran flyer instead took the controls of an A-wing. Withstanding the barrage of enemy fire, Celchu joined the Millennium Falcon and a small cadre of starfighters when they flew into the catacomb-like trench of the Second Death Star. With a number of TIE fighters hot on their tail, General Lando Calrissian ordered the remaining A-wing and X-wing pilots [with the exception of Wedge Antilles in his X-wing] to break off, to head for the surface hoping at least some of the TIE pilots would make chase. That’s Green Three who responds, “Copy, Gold Leader!” before banking to starboard. The ruse worked, and Lando and Wedge were able to play their respective parts in bringing down the Second Death Star.
Tycho Celchu appears in the Expanded Universe, too. I won’t dive into that realm [even though I am a huge fan of the stories outside of the six films 😉 ]. Concentrating on his inclusion in the films, I imagine it was quite the huge blow to Celchu when the Empire blew up Alderaan. Like Princess Leia, Celchu lost everyone who he held dear, who he loved [including his fiancée] when the planet was destroyed. Unlike Princess Leia, he had to come to terms with the fact that the government to which he was loyal, believed in would do something so monstrous, with such callousness. His grief — no less deep or heart-wrenching as Leia’s — was different, though. Once Celchu got over the shock of what happened, he could devote everything he had to give to the Alliance — and that’s just what he did. He was a key player in the Alliance’s quest to defeat the Empire.
Arvel Crynyd, the able-bodied leader of Green Group, fought for the Rebel Alliance high above the lush planet of Endor. As soon as the Rebel Fleet emerged from hyperspace, the pilots check in. “Green Leader standing by,” we hear the third pilot, Crynyd, report. The A-wing leader is poised to spearhead his group’s assault on the formidable Imperial armada and — hopefully — the destruction of the Empire’s Second Death Star. The only thing wrong with the plan — the Death Star’s deflector shield is still operational! General Calrissian urged the Rebel Alliance to hold on, to give Han more time to dismantle the shield — a directive that is not lost on Crynyd and Green Group. They successfully concentrate their firepower on the Empire’s Super Star Destroyer Executor, commanded by Admiral Piett, blowing out the Executor’s bridge deflector shield. Piloting the third A-wing delivering the salvo, Crynyd (played by Hilton McRae) lost control of his starfighter. His A-wing crashed through the Star Destroyer’s forward viewport, which caused the Imperial ship to nose-dive into the surface of the Death Star. While it wasn’t as if Crynyd threw his body on a live grenade to save the lives of his comrades, his sacrifice was no less heroic. I imagine he would have preferred to survive the Battle of Endor, but giving his own life to ensure the destruction the Executor meant the Rebel Alliance might have a chance against their mighty foe. He was a solid leader who truly cared about his pilots. The Rebel Alliance was lucky to have him fighting on its side.
D … Garven “Dave” Dreis was the epitome of a commanding officer. He cared about his pilots, and looked after them in a “fatherly” manner. A veteran X-wing pilot, Dreis led Red Squadron at the Battle of Yavin. If you look closely, that scene with Luke and his best friend Biggs Darklighter was not the first time we see Red Leader on screen. Rewind a little to the scenes in the briefing room. General Dodonna is explaining to the pilots what it will take to bring down the formidable Death Star. With the camera positioned behind the flyers, we see Dreis [played by Drewe Henley] standing on the left keeping careful watch over his charges. Once you are familiar with Red Squadron’s leader’s physique, he is easily identifiable in the briefing room.
It isn’t long before the Rebel Alliance amassed on Yavin IV are alerted that the Death Star has arrived, and the pilots head for their starfighters. En route to his X-wing, Luke is reunited with Biggs. Red Leader breaks into the twosome’s conversation, querying of the untested Luke: “Skywalker, you sure you can handle this ship?” Biggs assures his commanding officer that Luke is more than capable. In response, Dreis gives Luke a fatherly show of support: “You’ll do alright.” Luke answers, “Thanks, sir. I’ll try.” [It won’t be long before Luke learns the valuable lesson between ‘trying’ and ‘doing’. 😉 ] Unbeknownst to Luke, his commanding officer knew Anakin. The two fought side-by-side during the Clone Wars before the senior Skywalker succumbed to the Dark Side.
With the Rebel fleet all but obliterated, Dreis decides to split his remaining forces to give the Rebels a last-ditch effort to destroy the Death Star. Red Leader begins his trench run with two wingmen, holding Luke, Biggs and Wedge in reserve. All know a direct hit on the thermal exhaust port is necessary to cause the chain reaction that will lead to the weapon’s destruction. Dreis implores his wingmen to hold off the Imperial fighters: “Almost there … almost there. I’m in range. Just hold them off for a few seconds. Almost there … almost there.” Sadly, neither wingman survives the assault, and Dreis is left alone in the trench. Finally, Dreis is able to target the exhaust port, and lets loose his pair of proton torpedoes! Explosions erupt across the Death Star, but Red Leader must report that his shot only “impacted on the surface.” Darth Vader, in hot pursuit, destroys one of Dreis’ engines. Luke and his wingmates are set to go to their commander’s aid, but he waves them off. “Get set up for your attack run,” Dreis commands. Vader takes another deadly shot, sending the veteran pilot to a fiery death.
When I mentioned Garven Dreis was the epitome of a commanding officer, I meant that wholeheartedly. As a veteran, all those in the trenches hope those who lead them will look out for their well being. Always. I imagine Dreis knew the importance of doing just that — it would foster a tight-knit camaraderie in his squadron. Many of his pilots were young, far from home, and respected the father figure they had in Red Leader. It was a blow to the Rebel Alliance when they lost such a key leader, and the fact that it took a while to rebuild the famed squadron is a testament to how Dreis led his flyers.
That should do it for this installment of “The ABCs of Star Wars.” I hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about these little-known — but no less important — characters in our beloved Saga. I invite you to leave a comment, or if you’d like to contact me directly, please do so at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[The 2008, three-volume “The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia” and IMDb.com, as well as my countless viewings of all six films aided in my research.]
Two hundred sixty-three days and counting…
Until next time, MTFBWY 🙂
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