The Empire – From the Front Lines!

501st Alias/Callsign – Fokker210
TKID – TK-22308
What is your name and why did you pick your 501st Alias? 
Andrew Ledford and my 501st alias is a combination of things….Since I was a child, I have been in love with aircraft and flight, especially the Fokker Dr1 Triplane. The number 210 is my police badge number so I just combined them into “Fokker210”.
When did you join the Legion and why?
I first became acquainted with the 501st when they made an appearance where I work. Several years ago, the GBI was hosting a missing children’s event at our headquarters complex and some GA Garrison members arrived and pretty much every attendee gravitated towards them, children and adults alike. I had heard of the 501st but did not truly understand exactly what they did outside of costuming. A good friend of mine from the Bureau, who is also a long time Garrison member, filled me in on the Garrison and the work they do. After a couple of years of his urging, I finally made my submission and was approved in 2015.
Of all of the troops you have been a part of, which one has stood out the most & why?
I would have to say that my most memorable troop was the 2016 Boo at the Zoo event last year. Although I have done some very emotional and meaningful troops at children’s hospitals, autism events, etc. and each of those troops has a place in my heart, the Boo at the Zoo troop was very special for me because I got to troop with both of my children. Both my son and daughter are cadets in the Galactic Academy and, although I had done other troops with my son, this was the first time we had all trooped together.
How has being a part of the 501st impacted your life?
To be honest, my career has exposed me to people at their very best as well as others at their very worst. I have to deal with people going through the worst times of their lives (or about to), people in crisis and some that are just plain evil. The 501st falls into the category of people “performing at their very best”. I have devoted my life and career to helping serve my community, state and nation in a professional capacity and now the 501st allows me to channel that same sense of community and charity into my free time. The fact that I get to do this as a real Stormtrooper and make a childhood dream come true is quite a bonus!
Outside of trooping and 501st related stuff, what do you do for a living, and what are some other interests or hobbies that you have?
I am a Special Agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and have spent the last twenty years conducting criminal investigations all over the state, everything from homicide, narcotics, intelligence, etc. I am currently the lead firearms instructor / firearms coordinator for the bureau. As far as hobbies go, I collect antique flight memorabilia, antique weapons and armor and I’m an avid shooter.
Can you give us an idea as to the kind of support you get from friends and family regarding the 501st and all the great things that you have done with the GA Garrison?
First off, my family is very supportive of my involvement in the 501st. My wife Cindy has done a good bit of handling, not just for me, but for our two kids as well ! In fact, my son had actually trooped with the GA Garrison before I ever did! I had built an 80% TK kit for him and the Garrison invited him to march along with them during the 2014 CHOA troop (I was actually his handler!). Since then, my daughter has gotten involved and has been along on several troops herself! Occasionally, I might have to explain to someone the reason why I enjoy putting on this white, plastic armor….It seems to only take a moment explaining how you took an extremely sick child’s mind off of their troubles for a few minutes, took them far, far away, or simply made them smile. Then they understand why I do this.
And lastly, is there anything, Star Wars related or not, that people might not know about you that they might be surprised to find out?
Ummm, this is a tough one……For the last ten years, I have been slowly building a 100% scale, flying Fokker Dr1 Triplane replica. A very slow process that I hope to have completed in about ten more years! I am also a competitive rifle and handgun shooter.