Jon Vander

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This article is about the Rebel pilot. You may be looking for the Republic general.
"Red Leader, This is Gold Leader. We're starting our attack run."
―Jon Vander[src]

Jon "Dutch" Vander was a male human pilot from Onderon who first served in the Galactic Empire's Imperial Navy before defecting to the Rebel Alliance during the Galactic Civil War. Serving as the leader of Gold Squadron, a group of BTL Y-wing light bombers, he fought with his squadron in the battles of Scarif and Yavin, and he was killed in the latter by Darth Vader while attempting a trench run on the Death Star.


Early lifeEdit

A male human from the planet Onderon, Jon Vander was an Imperial pilot in the Imperial Navy.[1] Onderon was a destabilized, war-torn world because of the militant insurgency of Saw Gerrera's Partisans;[3] however, when Vander was ordered to bomb pro-rebel areas on his homeworld, he refused, instead defecting to the Rebel Alliance.[1]

Galactic Civil WarEdit

Battle of ScarifEdit

"Red Leader, this is Gold Leader: We are starting our attack run on the shield gate. Keep it tight and watch out for those towers."
―Vander announcing a bombing run on the shield gate[src]
Jon Vander-Rogue One

Jon Vander during the Battle of Scarif.

By 0 BBY, Vander served as leader of Gold Squadron, flying BTL Y-wing light bombers. Stationed at the Alliance's secret Base One on Yavin 4, the fourth moon of Yavin, he flew Gold One, often with his astromech, R2-BHD.[4] Vander and Gold Squadron, along with Blue, Green, and Red Squadrons, departed from the Rebel base to accompany Admiral Raddus in his support of the Rogue One team in their attempt to steal the technical readouts of the planet-destroying Death Star battle station. Assisting in the space battle as Raddus' fleet attacked the Shield Gate orbital station, Vander and Gold Squadron conducted several attack runs on the Shield Gate, utilizing proton bombs in an effort to weaken the shield. After sustaining casualties, they were redirected by Raddus against the flotilla of Star Destroyers.[5]

Vander gave the order to take advantage of an opening in Imperial defenses, and he and four of his squad mates swooped into position to attack. The Gold Squadron pilots launched ion torpedoes at one of the destroyers, disabling it and allowing it to be rammed by a Hammerhead corvette, the Lightmaker. Colliding with another Star Destroyer as well as the Shield Gate, this disabled the deflector shield and allowed the plans on the ground to be successfully transmitted from the Citadel Tower to the Profundity, and eventually, the Tantive IV.[5]

Battle of YavinEdit

"Loosen up!"
―Vander's last words before his death[src]
Jon vander

Jon Vander in his Y-wing as Gold Leader during the trench run

Vander would live to survive Scarif, and would return to Yavin 4. After the plans were returned by the Millennium Falcon, Alliance High Command was able to pinpoint Galen Erso's weakness in the plans, a small thermal exhaust port leading directly to the main reactor, and decided that their best chance to exploit it would be through small starfighters, using proton torpedoes to target the shaft. Vander attended General Jan Dodonna's pre-flight briefing as the Death Star approached to destroy the base. Visibly skeptical of their chances, he interrupted Dodonna by asking "Pardon me for asking, sir, but what good are snub-fighters going to be against that?" and then later gave Princess Leia a look of concern when Dodonna mentioned that the exhaust port was only two meters wide. Despite his reservations, he would again lead Gold Squadron's eight Y-wing force in the Battle of Yavin.[2]

Gold One

Gold One exploding, killing Vander.

During the battle, three of Gold Squadron's Y-wings separated from the main force, making up the first group that would fly into the Death Star's meridian trench in an attempt to knock out the exhaust port and destroy the station. Vander was on point, followed by Davish "Pops" Krail (Gold Five) and fellow Onderonian Dex Tiree (Gold Two), who formed a buffer against enemy fighters. In the face of the station's turbolaser batteries, Vander ordered his group to switch their deflector shields to double-front; however, this would have the adverse effect of leaving them vulnerable from behind. As Tiree was locking his targeting computer, he was shot down by Darth Vader's TIE Advanced x1. This caused Vander to panic as he was unable to maneuver in the tight space; Krail tried to keep him calm but to no avail. A second later Vader fired into Vander's Y-wing, killing him instantly.[2]

Personality and traitsEdit

Vander helmet

Jon Vander's flight helmet

Though Jon Vander showed skepticism at times, most prevalent when questioning General Dodonna on the feasibility of the Death Star trench run, he also exhibited a calm and collected demeanor when he felt in control of the situation, as he did at Scarif and during the early stages of Yavin, as well as bravery in taking down a Star Destroyer and leading his squadron down the trench in face of heavy turbolaser fire. However, he also panicked when met with a rapidly intensifying and deteriorating situation, and this, as well as the tight formations he chose for his bombers at both Scarif and Yavin, proved to be his downfall.[2][5]

Behind the scenesEdit

Jon Vander was portrayed in 1977's Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope by Canadian actor Angus MacInnes; MacInnes would later appear as Vander in 2016's Rogue One: A Star Wars Story through a combination of archival footage and new lines recorded by MacInnes.[6]

In the now-Legends Expanded Universe, there was considerable debate over his nickname. The enunciation of Gold Five's line referring to his squadron mates Tiree and Dutch was unclear, and many fans perceived him to be saying Hutch instead of Dutch. In addition to this, Gold Five referred to Gold Leader and Gold Two, but the film did not specify which was Hutch/Dutch and which was Tiree. Although Vander's identity was eventually confirmed as the Gold Leader character, several sources used both Hutch and Dutch, and the confusion would not be resolved until 2014.[source?]



Notes and referencesEdit

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