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Jek Tono Porkins was a trader and pilot from Bestine IV who, along with the other Bestines, was forced to abandon his homeworld when the Galactic Empire chose it as the site of a new military base. Seeking the opportunity to strike back at the Empire, Porkins joined the Alliance to Restore the Republic and was assigned to Tierfon Rebel Outpost for pilot training with the Tierfon Yellow Aces. His skill at low-altitude strafing runs and his rotund physique earned him the nicknames "Belly Runner" and "Piggy." After the completion of the Empire's Death Star, the Yellow Aces were taken to fully active status and transferred to fill gaps in pilot rosters at other Rebel bases. When Porkins's good friend Wes Janson was taken ill with a case of Hesken Fever, Porkins was given his friend's assignment instead and transferred to Red Squadron, operating out of the Great Temple on Yavin 4.
Porkins soon took part in his first missions with Red Squadron, working with Biggs Darklighter, Wedge Antilles, and Cesi Eirriss to help retrieve a number of astromech droids from the smuggler Nera Dantels on Commenor. The group returned to Yavin 4 just before the arrival of the Death Star in the Yavin system, on a mission to destroy the Rebel base. Porkins flew as Red Six during the Battle of Yavin, his skills at strafing aiding the Rebels early in the battle. However, when his T-65 X-wing starfighter was struck by debris, leaving him with several mechanical and computer malfunctions, Porkins was hit by enemy turbolaser fire and killed.
A native of the Bestine system, Porkins was a champion T-16 skyhopper pilot on his homeworld of Bestine IV. During his youth, he spent many years hunting sink crabs on the world's rocky islands. He eventually became a free trader and had just gone into business for himself when the Galactic Empire, seeking to create a new base in that part of the galaxy, forced the Bestines from their homeworld and turned the planet into a secure base of operations. When Imperial promises of a new home turned out to be empty, the displaced natives adopted a nomadic lifestyle, wandering aimlessly through their system.
The Alliance to Restore the Republic soon learned of the Bestines' fate and offered them the chance of a new life by joining the fledgling Rebellion against the Empire. Most refused to join the Rebels, unwilling to start a life away from the Bestine system and opting instead to gather the resources they would need to retake their world. Porkins, however, knew that this would take decades and wanted to strike back at the Empire immediately. By joining the Rebel Alliance, he saw his chance to do so and hoped that he could one day persuade the Rebel leadership to help liberate his homeworld.
Tierfon Yellow Aces
- "Hold your Gandoks, I'm goin' in!"
- ―Jek Tono Porkins
Porkins was initially assigned to Tierfon Rebel Outpost, serving in the Tierfon Yellow Aces. The Yellow Aces were officially a training squadron but were frequently involved in the less hazardous active combat missions, giving them combat experience. Porkins found the transition from T-16 to BTL Y-wing and T-65 X-wing starfighter pilot easy. He soon reached the rank of lieutenant and, in under 40 hours of combat time, achieved sixteen confirmed kills. Among those in Porkins's training class was a pilot named Wes Janson, with whom he worked well and became good friends. He and Janson also became acquainted with the young pilot N'dru Suhlak, whom they gave some informal training. During his time with the Yellow Aces, Porkins acquired his astromech droid, R5-D8, who remained with him throughout his career.
On one mission, the Yellow Aces were sent to ambush an Imperial freighter and its TIE/LN starfighter escort as they landed at a temporary Imperial staging base. The squadron flew Y-wings and was under instruction to split into two groups, with one group strafing the base and drawing away its defenses while the other attempted to disable the freighter. The first stage of the mission went well, but when the freighter arrived with a larger escort than expected, Yellow Ace member Kissek Doran panicked and broke formation. Knowing that if Doran was seen by the Imperials, the Yellow Aces would be compromised and potentially eliminated, Porkins and Janson were ordered to pursue him and attempt to bring him back. If they were unable to do so, they were authorized to shoot him down. Porkins attempted to use his own starfighter to force Doran to the ground. However, his attempts were unsuccessful and Janson was forced to open fire. His laser cannon cracked Doran's cockpit and he was killed by exposure to the vacuum outside.
In 0 BBY, with the Alliance becoming aware of the threat posed by the Empire's new battlestation, the Death Star, the Yellow Aces were taken to fully active status. High-security bases were given priority for the newly active pilots and, when Red Squadron operating out of the Rebel base in the Great Temple on Yavin 4 needed pilots to fill an immediate shortage, Janson was scheduled for an emergency transfer to the Yavin system. However, when Janson was taken ill with Hesken Fever, Porkins took his place.
Soon after arriving on Yavin, Porkins attended a briefing by General Jan Dodonna. The Alliance was in need of additional starfighters and had recently learned of a number of X-wings at an Incom Corporation assembly facility. Dodonna outlined a plan to capture the fighters by using four TIE/LN starfighters, recently brought to the Alliance by the defecting crew of the Class II Frigate Rand Ecliptic, to draw the defending TIE fighters away from the nearby Imperial Security Bureau base. Once the Incom facility was undefended, the Rand Ecliptic would arrive to retrieve the X-wings. The mission was a success, with the Rebels capturing several of the new starfighters, though Peate Kurin was killed and Derek Klivian lost a leg during the diversionary raid. Porkins later joined Biggs Darklighter, Wedge Antilles, and Cesi Eirriss in practicing in the captured fighters. After visiting Klivian in the infirmary, the group was called back for another briefing with General Dodonna.
Though the Alliance now had a supply of starfighters at Yavin 4, they still needed astromech droids to help their pilots operate the ships. The Empire seemed to have anticipated their need and responded with strict controls over the droids, but a source had been found when Captain Nera Dantels of the Starduster arranged to take a shipment of R2 and R5 units to the Imperial stronghold of Commenor. Porkins, along with Darklighter, Antilles, and Eirriss, was dispatched undercover to the world to rendezvous with the smuggler.
After arriving at Commenor, the Rebels landed their X-wings at the spaceport, rented a landspeeder, and headed to a local cantina, where they had been told to play a game of sabacc while waiting for Dantels. While there, they watched the latest news of the dissolution of the Imperial Senate on the HoloNet, learning of the apparent disappearance of Senator Leia Organa of Alderaan. Porkins won the sabacc game, but as they prepared to play another, Antilles received a signal from Dantels telling them to meet her at Hangar Bay 31, and the group departed. Outside, they were met by a number of local ruffians who claimed to have chased some thieves away from the landspeeder and demanded a reward. When Porkins refused to play along, one of the gang insulted him, causing the Rebel to knee the youth in the midsection. The situation rapidly descended into a brawl, before the Rebels ended the fight by pulling their blasters and left in the speeder to head to their rendezvous.
The Rebels finally met with Captain Dantels and examined the cargo of astromechs. After confirming the cargo, they arranged to meet up with her in orbit and lead the Starduster back to Yavin 4. However, unknown to the Rebels, one of the street gang had followed them, leading a stormtrooper to the meeting. The stormtrooper called the Imperial base on the nearby moon of Folor to warn them of the fleeing Rebels. By the time the Rebels collected their X-wings and reached orbit, the Imperials had already dispatched TIE/LN starfighters to intercept them.
Seeing the incoming fighters, Antilles and Darklighter broke formation to intercept, leaving Porkins and Eirriss to provide cover for the Starduster. Nevertheless, some TIEs made it through and were able to get on Porkins's tail. Eirriss eliminated his pursuers and Porkins soon reciprocated, but more TIEs came and attacked the Starduster. Though Dantels was able to shoot them off, some of the debris struck Eirriss's X-wing, damaging her shield generator and hyperdrive. With no time to eject before the next wave of TIEs arrived, and no way to leave the system, Eirriss set a collision course for the incoming fighters, telling her comrades to leave without her. Her X-wing was destroyed in a head-on collision with the Imperial fighters.
Porkins, Antilles, and Darklighter jumped to hyperspace, leading the Starduster back to Yavin 4. After landing in the Great Temple, and learning that the Death Star was already en route to Yavin to destroy the Rebel base, the Rebel pilots agreed to dedicate the destruction of the superweapon to their fallen comrade. On Porkins's recommendation, Yellow Ace pilot John D. Branon was selected to take the place of Eirriss for the upcoming battle. Soon after returning, Porkins met Darklighter's old friend, Luke Skywalker, who had himself just arrived on Yavin 4 and was also to join Red Squadron.
Battle of Yavin
- "I've got a problem here."
"I can hold it."
"No, I'm all—Aargh!"
- ―Porkins talks to Darklighter, moments before his death
Soon, the Death Star arrived in the system, but the Rebels believed they had found a weakness in the battlestation. Plans provided by Leia Organa after her rescue from Imperial capture had revealed a small thermal exhaust port leading to the main reactor core. With the Death Star's defenses geared towards defending the station from a large-scale attack, the Rebels believed it would be possible for their starfighters to navigate down a narrow trench on the Death Star's surface, and fire a proton torpedo into the exhaust port, triggering a chain reaction that would destroy the station. After General Dodonna outlined the mission, the Rebel pilots prepared for battle. As the Rebels rushed to get ready for the battle, the X-wing assigned to Porkins missed its final inspection of computer and flight control systems.
Porkins flew under the call sign Red Six during the Battle of Yavin. After arriving at the approaching battlestation, the Rebels initiated strafing runs in the area around the trench. Porkins's skill with strafing played an important part in the success of the early runs, but the Rebel fighters came under heavy fire from a turbolaser emplacement near one of the surface's many deflection towers. Darklighter moved to attack the tower, telling Porkins to provide cover. The two pilots dived towards the surface, opening fire on the tower and scoring a direct hit. However, as the tower exploded, Porkins was caught by debris from the blast, causing instruments throughout his fighter to malfunction. Though his X-wing fighter was generally maneuverable enough to avoid the Death Star's sluggish turbolasers, incorrect readings from his instrumentation left him unable to judge his altitude and he found himself too low and an easy target for enemy fire. Darklighter attempted to warn his friend that he was too low and advised him to eject, but Porkins felt that he could control the problem. Before he was able to regain control, however, he was hit by enemy turbolaser fire and was killed as his X-wing exploded around him.
- "You are elite pilots and you are more than just that, but no matter who you are, or how good you are, you'll never be considered as good as Biggs Darklighter or Jek Porkins or anyone else who has died in service to Rogue Squadron. They are legends, this unit is a legend, and none of us are ever going to be able to be more than they are."
- ―Wedge Antilles addresses members of Rogue Squadron
A holographic memorial to Porkins, along with the other pilots killed during the mission, was installed in the Great Temple following the battle and he was still included in the Rogue Squadron memorial as late as 5 ABY. His actions during the Battle of Yavin saw him posthumously awarded the Kenobi Medallion, a medal created specifically to remember the sacrifices of those who fought at Yavin. His Kenobi Medallion was hung with those of his comrades in the pilots' lounge at Tierfon Rebel Base. Red Squadron survivors Luke Skywalker and Wedge Antilles later founded Rogue Squadron and, though Porkins died before Rogue Squadron's formation, Antilles always considered him and the other members of Red Squadron to be among the first Rogues. Rogue Squadron named one of their maneuvers Porkins' Formation in his memory. After Antilles and Janson formed Wraith Squadron, following the New Republic's capture of Coruscant, they informed the Gamorrean Wraith recruit Voort saBinring that they did not see his nickname of "Piggy" as an insult—instead it was a mark of respect as the same nickname had once belonged to Porkins.
Personality and traits
Porkins was a capable pilot whose experience hunting sink crabs helped him become a specialist in strafing runs during his time as a Rebel pilot. He was also a competent dogfighter, amassing an impressive number of kills in his career. His skills at strafing, together with his large physical stature, earned him the nickname "Belly Runner". His build also earned him the nickname "Piggy". Porkins never objected to his friends joking about his size, which he attributed to the high gravity on Bestine IV, though on at least one occasion he reacted angrily to comments from an outsider.
As a heavyset man, Porkins would set his inertial compensator to full while in flight. Wedge Antilles always considered this a possible factor in his death—had his compensation been lower, he may have realized how low he was and been able to attempt to correct it before he was struck by enemy fire.
Despite his unflattering nicknames, Porkins made many friends among those he served with and was seen as both brave and noble and was one of the most respected pilots in the Rebel Alliance. His good friend Wes Janson often spoke highly of him, though Janson struggled with the guilt he felt about his absence from Yavin, feeling that this had contributed to Porkins's death. Wedge Antilles also considered Porkins to be among the best pilots he had flown with and was deeply hurt by his death.
Behind the scenes
- "So long, Piggy. You will be avenged!"
- ―Biggs Darklighter's thoughts on the death of Porkins
Jek Porkins was created by George Lucas for the 1977 film Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope, in which he was played by William Hootkins. Hootkins was originally considered to stand in for the then-humanoid Jabba the Hutt. However, after reading the script, Hootkins was unsure about the film and decided to take a different job. When his other work finished, Hootkins learned that Lucas was still seeking actors to play Rebel pilots and decided to take one of the parts. With so many roles involving heavy make-up, Hootkins initially wondered if the name Porkins might imply he was to have pig-like make-up applied and had to check with Lucas to confirm his character's species was Human. The Rebel pilot uniforms had been made to a standard size and Hootkins's costume had to be slit down the back in order to fit him, slightly exposing his Mr. Natural T-shirt underneath. Cramped into the small cockpit for his character's explosive death scene, Hootkins initially thought the actors playing Death Star crewmembers had the better roles but would later consider himself lucky to have played one of the film's heroic Rebels.
The Porkins character first appeared in Alan Dean Foster's novelization of the film, in which his call sign was given as Blue Four. The original script of A New Hope also used the Blue Four designation, though this was later changed to Red Four. Porkins remained as Red Four until shooting when he changed once more to the final Red Six, with Branon becoming Red Four. This is the likely explanation for another pilot calling for Red Six after Porkins has been killed.
In the last part of the Marvel comic adaptation of the film, Star Wars 6: Is This the Final Chapter? by Roy Thomas and Howard Chaykin, Porkins was given the call sign Blue Six and was depicted as being killed by a TIE fighter after his mechanical malfunction. The nickname "Piggy" was first used in Foster's novel and also appeared in Star Wars 6, in a panel in which Darklighter briefly mourns the death of his friend. Star Wars 6 was also the first source to provide the character with a first name, calling him Tono Porkins. Grant S. Boucher's 1989 roleplaying sourcebook Galaxy Guide 1: A New Hope later gave the character the first name Jek.
The contradiction with the character's name remained unresolved until 2002. When Josh Radke wrote the article "Wraith Squadron" for Star Wars Gamer 9, he asked Abel G. Peña to see if there was anything else to add to the article. Peña suggested that they take the opportunity to resolve the two names. Previous name contradictions had been resolved by retconning one as a nickname, but with "Piggy" and "Belly Runner" already used as such, this was quickly ruled out. Instead, Peña suggested using Tono as the character's middle name. Radke agreed with the idea and the article reflected his full name as Jek Tono Porkins.
- Star Wars: Empire at War
- Star Wars Journal: Captive to Evil
- The Star Wars Storybook (Indirect mention only)
- Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope novelization (First appearance) (First identified as Porkins)
- Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope junior novelization
- Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope
- Empire 12: Darklighter, Part 3
- Star Wars: X-Wing Rogue Squadron ½
- Empire 15: Darklighter, Part 4 (Appears in hologram)
- Star Wars 6: Is This the Final Chapter? (First identified as Tono Porkins)
- Slave Ship (Mentioned only)
- X-Wing Rogue Squadron 26: Family Ties, Part 1 (Appears in flashback(s))
- X-Wing Rogue Squadron 35: Mandatory Retirement, Part 4 (Appears in hologram)
- X-Wing: Rogue Squadron (Mentioned only)
- X-Wing: Wedge's Gamble (Mentioned only)
- X-Wing: The Krytos Trap (Mentioned only)
- X-Wing: Wraith Squadron (Mentioned only)
- The Last Command (Indirect mention only)
- X-Wing: Isard's Revenge (Mentioned only)
- Jedi Search (Mentioned only)
- I, Jedi (Mentioned only)
Notes and references
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Galaxy Guide 1: A New Hope
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope
- ↑ Porkins's height is given as 1.78 meters in Galaxy Guide 1: A New Hope and 1.8 meters in his entry on the StarWars.com Databank.
- ↑ Star Wars: Head-to-Head Tag Teams
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Empire 12: Darklighter, Part 3
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7 6.8 Star Wars: X-Wing Rogue Squadron ½
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 Galaxy Guide 3: The Empire Strikes Back
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 X-Wing: Wraith Squadron
- ↑ Slave Ship
- ↑ The Essential Guide to Warfare
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 Star Wars Customizable Card Game – A New Hope Limited (Card: Red 6)
- ↑ Star Wars Customizable Card Game – Premiere Limited (Card: I've Got A Problem Here)
- ↑ Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope novel
- ↑ Empire 15: Darklighter, Part 4
- ↑ X-Wing Rogue Squadron 35: Mandatory Retirement, Part 4
- ↑ X-Wing Rogue Squadron 26: Family Ties, Part 1
- ↑ The Last Command
- ↑ 19.0 19.1 X-Wing: Rogue Squadron
- ↑ "Rebel Pilot Reunion"—Star Wars Insider 32