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Amongst casual Star Wars fans, there are a good number of misconceptions about what Rogue Squadron was, probably stemming from the fact that its principle founders, Luke Skywalker and Wedge Antilles, were the members of the Rebel fleet which get the most screen time, but they were not usually depicted on film as members of the Rogue Squadron.
Rogue Squadron traces its roots back to the climactic battle of Episode IV, otherwise known as "The Battle of Yavin". The filmed account of the battle posited the eventual victory of one particular part of the Rebel Fleet--Red Squadron--over the Death Star. This designation meant nothing in particular, other than a randomly-chosen radio call sign to distinguish that part of the fleet from the rest of the craft in combat on that day. But it was Red Squadron's members who repeatedly made it closest to the target that day, and eventually broke through to actually destroy the Death Star. They thus became immortal, and what had been a random assignment of radio designation became the "legendary" name of "Red Squadron".
Noting the fact that the squadron seemed to have not just Skywalker's Force ability, but enough general piloting skills to have comprised the bulk of the attack on target during the Battle of Yavin, Rebel Command decided to emphasize the traits displayed by Red Squadron. Thus, they split the survivors of Red into two new groups, and added their most promising new pilots to the two new groups. These two divisions were called Renegade Flight and Rogue Flight, together giving a permanent voice to what had previously been only a temporarily-named Red Squadron.
Sadly, Renegade Flight wholly perished on a mission to Hoth before the start of Episode V. Rogue, thus became the whole of the the squadron, and they were then re-christened, "Rogue Squadron". As might have been expected, Luke Skywalker and Wedge Antilles, Commander and XO of Rogue Flight, became leaders of the squadron as a whole. However, little effort seems to have been made to grow the ranks much in the aftermath of the Renegade tragedy. Instead, Skywalker and Antilles took the group in a different direction.
Noting that the Renegades had been killed more or less on a routine convoy mission, they asked that their newly-named Rogue Squadron be placed, in a sense, outside the normal chain of naval command. They would be somewhat autonomous, handling only special ops missions. In the case of the Battle of Hoth--the only time they were ever seen on film truly as a member of the Rogues--they were specifically charged with harassing the Imperial Walkers so the rest of the fleet had time to escape. Notably, however, they are not depicted as having a commanding officer somewhere else giving orders. Indeed, at battle's end, Luke is shown to independently go off towards Dagobah, with no particular concern that he might be considered to be going AWOL, in any sense.
Still, it is at this point that Rogue Squadron becomes more Wedge's unit than Luke's. Though their ranks had now dwindled to a mere 6 pilots, the Rogues rallied around Antilles for the rest of the war. He would eventually grow the ranks by a dozen more, but it remained true to the spirit of a small, special-ops group.
Luke's departure and occasional return provided a precedent that Wedge would continue: the Rogues were tight in the heat of a particular battle, but between campaigns, members could be forgiven to respond to higher personal callings without fear of dismissal.
Indeed, with no standing orders from Rebel Command, the leader of the Rogues was, effectively, the only one who could administer discipline over the group. The group thus traveled down paths both epic and personal. While they did occasionally participate in "larger" prior to Endor, much of the Rogues' history following Hoth was consumed with following the trail to the carbonite-frozen Han Solo--himself a de facto member of the Rogues.
The missions which comprised "the hunt for Solo" were among the last Rogues would run as an autonomous unit prior to Endor. Having finally found and restored Solo to health, Wedge ordered the Rogues back into the regular fleet.
During the Battle of Endor, the former Rogues were mostly spread across several different squadrons. However, in tribute to the fallen at Yavin, the squadron led by Wedge was once again called "Red Squadron". This squadron, tied to the Rogues really only by their leader, would, again with the help of the Falcon, deliver the knockout punch against the new Death Star. However, it's important to emphasize that the Red Squadron of Episode VI is not really related to the Red Squadron of Episode IV, or the Rogue Squadron that would follow them, except for the person of Wedge Antilles.
After the victory at Endor, Wedge's place in history was assured. Not only was he one of the few survivors of both Death Star attacks, but he had been as key to the destruction of the second Death Star as Luke was to the first. Most would have retired after so successful a career, but he almost immediately (as was implied by many 1990s Dark Horse comics, and made explicit by the rare post-prequel, post-ROTJ novel, Truce at Bakura) reform the Rogues.
The Rogues changed dramatically in this period, losing many of its Civil War-era human members to promotion or death, and replacing them with pilots from planets that were now rushing to side with the Alliance. This team is the one which is most explored by Expanded Universe authors, and serves as the basis for the 1995 series, Star Wars: X-Wing Squadron, as well as the Stackpole novels. This "final reformation" of the Rogues is the least connected by personnel to the original Red Squadron, but it's also the one that has the most prominent role within the minds of the general populace. It is this Rogue Squadron which is instrumental in driving the Empire from Coruscant, for instance, all but ending any military resistance from an organized Imperial fleet. Undoubtedly this latter-day Rogue Squadron, existing as it did during a time of increasing media coverage of Alliance victories to an ever-expanding New Republic/Galactic Alliance, made Wedge Antilles and his Rogue Squadron household names.
#1 - 'X-Wing Rogue Squadron'Star Wars Omnibus (2006)
Omnibus TPB vol. 01 - 'X-Wing Rogue Squadron Volume 1'Star Wars: Empire (2002)
#15 - 'Darklighter, Part 4'Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire (1996)
Star Wars: X-Wing Rogue Squadron: Rogue Leader (2005)
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