Aiden Whyte wanted a “Star Wars”-themed fifth birthday. His father, a Navy reservist training a few time zones away, couldn’t make it.
When Aiden found out a party-crasher dressed as Darth Vader would be making an appearance, he did what any sensible 5-year-old would do: He grabbed his light saber and, with sister Emily (a year older than Aiden and dressed as Princess Leia, of course) in tow, prepared for battle.
With the cast set, we take you to a low-budget remake of “The Empire Strikes Back” in Wichita, Kansas:
Spoiler alert: Darth Vader is Luke’s father.
Specifically, Darth Vader is Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class (SW) Justin Whyte, who returned home to Kansas on 96-hour leave from training in California. He and wife Susie concocted the surprise; Aiden thought he was smashing light sabers with his cousin.
Susie’s the videographer; you can tell from the gasp she tries to stifle about 30 seconds into the video, when Aiden goes off-script and throws his light saber at his opponent, taking him down instantly. Mark Hamill, take notes.
“I’m a schemer,” Susie Whyte said in a phone interview. “I like to do surprises.”
The video was shot in May but not posted until recently via WelcomeHomeBlog.com, a website featuring homecomings from across the services. The Whytes’ video is drawing some traction online from folks who think it’s a Halloween homecoming; almost 23,700 people had seen it on YouTube as of Wednesday morning.
Six months after the surprise, BM1 Whyte is in the United Arab Emirates with Coastal Riverine Squadron 11 — scheduled to return soon, Susie said — and Aiden is awaiting another happy homecoming in time for Christmas.
That might give his dad some time to brush up on his sci-fi history.
“I have to explain ‘Star Wars’ to him,” Susie said of her husband. “We were watching Episode III and he said, ‘Does Anakin die?’ And I said, ‘No, he’s Darth Vader.’ So he doesn’t get it.”