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"You're safe. When we heard about Alderaan, we feared the worst."
―Vanden Willard, greeting Leia Organa on Yavin 4[src]

Vanden Willard was a male human who served as a commander and later general in the Rebel Alliance. He served at the Rebel base on Yavin 4 during the Battle of Yavin. He was killed when his cruiser was attacked by the Executor near the Mako-Ta Space Docks.

Biography[edit | edit source]

On Yavin 4[edit | edit source]

"Where's Commander Willard?"
"Waiting for you inside the Great Temple."
―Organa and a rebel, upon her arrival on Yavin 4[src]

General Willard on Yavin 4

Vanden Willard[5] was a commander[3] and later general[6] in the Rebel Alliance at the time of the Battle of Yavin. After Princess Leia Organa was rescued from aboard the Galactic Empire's Death Star by Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Chewbacca, C-3PO, and R2-D2, and returned to the hidden rebel base on Yavin 4, Willard greeted them and was glad to know Organa was safe, as when they heard about the destruction of Alderaan, they feared the worst.[3]

When it was discovered that the ship they had used, the Millennium Falcon, was tracked and that the Death Star had arrived.[3] Willard was responsible for reviewing the flight simulator records of any pilot who wished to fly an X-wing starfighter for the Rebel Alliance prior to granting their recruitment.[7] Willard later helped coordinate the battle against the superweapon.[3] During the battle, Willard was in the war room with a Control Officer, General Jan Dodonna, Colonel Bandwin Cor, and Organa. When Dodonna asked whether there were any other reversion signatures, Willard replied that it was just the Death Star's. A partial transcript of recordings from the war room, which included Willard's comment, was eventually placed in The Rebel Files.[6]

At Mako-Ta Rebel Base[edit | edit source]

"No. That's……Willard's ship."
―Leia Organa, on witnessing the attack on Willard's cruiser[src]

General Willard in his cruiser when the rebels were under attack.

After a failed meeting with Regent Urtya on Mon Cala in an attempt to recruit the Mon Cala Mercantile Fleet, Willard was present at the Mako-Ta Space Docks in a meeting of Alliance High Command when Chancellor Mon Mothma requested the report on Mon Cala by Organa. As Organa stated that Urtya would never lead a mutiny against the Empire, Willard reacted with disappointment. Organa continued, and outlined her plan to rescue King Lee-Char, in order to secure an alliance with the Mon Calamari and incorporate the fleet into their own naval forces.[4]

Eventually, Organa and her team were able to breach a prison on Strokill Prime and find Lee-Char. Too injured to move, they recorded his final words before he was killed by Imperial stormtroopers.[8] Although Urtya was able to recover the recordings from Organa, he sent the message to the Fleet Captains of the Mon Cala fleet, resulting in their mutiny and defection to the Rebel Alliance.[9]

After the mutiny, Willard was given command of a cruiser that had been refitted for combat by the Kingdom of Shu-Torun, by order of Queen Trios. Willard utilized the cruiser as the flagship of Delta Group and remained present at the Mako-Ta Space Docks during a ceremony celebrating the new Alliance Fleet and for rebel personnel and rebel allies to witness the dispersal of the rebel naval forces. During the ceremony, Willard invited Organa to his cruiser, but she turned down the request, preferring to be with Mothma just in case she was needed.[2]

Prior to launch, Organa asked for a check-in of sub-groups, and Willard was the final one to confirm that group had no issues. Willard also told Organa to tell Mothma good luck for her speech, believing that she would stun the crowd. After Organa informed Mothma that the fleet was ready, she also mentioned Willard's statement, and told Mothma that he knew he would be impressed.[2]

As the ships were ready to launch into hyperspace, an error prevented the launch of the Willard's cruiser, as well as all the other ships that had been refitted with Shu-Torun technology. The fault resulted in the failure of all launches, lost communications, disabled armament, and the ships being unable to launch their starfighters. At the same time, Death Squadron, under the command of the Sith Lord Darth Vader, arrived and fired on the nearest cruiser, Willard's starship.[2]

Death[edit | edit source]

"Quickly, abandon ship! May the Force be with us al—"
―Vanden Willard's final words as his ship is destroyed[src]

Willard's final moments aboard his cruiser

As Willard's cruiser was attacked by the Executor and an accompanying Imperial-class Star Destroyer, Mothma, Organa, General Davits Draven, and other rebel personnel watched on in horror from the base. Consistently pummeled by laser fire, Willard ordered all power to be routed to the deflector shields, but a crewmember stated that they were quickly losing them. In response, Willard ordered that the ship be abandoned, but the ship was quickly annihilated as Willard told his crew that may the Force be with them all.[2]

An enormous eruption engulfed the cruiser, and Darth Vader looked on from the bridge of the Executor, satisfied that the rebels now understood and that he felt their terror.[2]

Personality and traits[edit | edit source]

Willard, a human male, had fair skin, graying hair, and dark colored eyes.[2]

Skills and abilities[edit | edit source]

As a general, Willard was able to command others. When his cruiser was attacked, he recognized that the shields required full power, but was not able to recognize earlier that the cruiser had to be evacuated.[2] Willard had the ability to review flight simulator records, and make a determination on whether pilots were able to fly X-wing starfighters before recruiting them.[7]

Equipment[edit | edit source]

As an Alliance officer, Willard was dressed in officer fatigues and wore the command insignia of a general on the left side of his chest.[3] While in command of Beta Group, Willard utilized a cruiser as his flagship.[2]

Behind the scenes[edit | edit source]

Willard first appeared in Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope,[3] where he was physically portrayed by Irish actor Eddie Byrne and voiced by Michael Bell.[10] The character was named after screenwriter Willard Huyck, who, along with his wife Gloria Katz, helped George Lucas put finishing touches on the revised fourth draft of A New Hope's script.[source?] Willard's first name was first mentioned in Star Wars: A New Hope junior novelization, which was released in 2017 and authored by Ryder Windham and edited by Emil Fortune.[5]

Star Wars lead writer Kieron Gillen was the one who came up with killing off Willard, as he thought about how the heroes rose through the ranks so quickly.[11]

Appearances[edit | edit source]

Sources[edit | edit source]

Notes and references[edit | edit source]

  1. According to Ultimate Star Wars, New Edition, the Assault on the Mako-Ta Space Docks occurred around a year after the Battle of Yavin. As Star Wars: Galactic Atlas establishes that the battle marks the beginning of 0 ABY, the Assault, including Willard's death, must take place around 1 ABY.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 2.9 Star Wars 50
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope
  4. 4.0 4.1 Star Wars 45
  5. 5.0 5.1 Star Wars: A New Hope junior novelization
  6. 6.0 6.1 Star Wars: The Rebel Files
  7. 7.0 7.1 A New Hope: The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy
  8. Star Wars 48
  9. Star Wars 49
  10. Homing Beacon #260
  11. TwitterLogo.svg Kieron Gillen (@kierongillen) on Twitter: "I did. I came from me thinking "how did our heroes climb the ranks so quickly?" and the answer being "a huge disaster which created a lot of places in CoC."" (screenshot)
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