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"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 rebellion. By 2 BBY, he served as the leader of Gold Squadron, a squadron made up of BTL Y-wing light bombers, with the rank of captain. In this role, he was instrumental in escorting the fugitive Senator Mon Mothma safely to Dantooine, where the Alliance to Restore the Republic would be formed. With the outbreak of the Galactic Civil War, Vander fought with his squadron in the battles of Scarif, where his leadership contributed to the destruction of the Shield Gate, and Yavin, by which time he had become a quadruple ace. Here, however, he would be killed while attempting a trench run on the Death Star battle station, shot down by the Sith Lord Darth Vader.

BiographyEdit

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 rebellion against the Empire.[1]

Working with the rebellionEdit

"Phoenix Leader, this is Gold Squadron. We catch you at a bad time?"
―Captain Jon Vander to Hera Syndulla[src]
Jon Vander and Hera

Captain Vander salutes Captain Syndulla

By 2 BBY, Vander had joined the nascent rebellion, becoming the flight leader of the Gold Squadron rebel cell, which flew BTL-A4 Y-wing light bombers.[4] They protected rebel convoys and attacked a few soft Imperial targets.[5] At this time, Senator Mon Mothma, who was secretly involved in the rebellion, delivered a fiery speech on the HoloNet denouncing Galactic Emperor Sheev Palpatine for his role in the Ghorman Massacre.[4]

As a result, Mothma was branded a traitor and forced to flee her homeworld of Chandrila.[6] Gold Squadron took on the duty of protecting the former Senator and escorting her ship Chandrila Mistress[7] to Dantooine, where they planned to rendezvous with other rebel cells. First, however, they met up with elements of Phoenix Cell for refueling of the Senator's transport. Vander and Gold Two, as well as Mothma's aide Erskin Semaj and met Phoenix Leader Hera Syndulla and her cell known as the Spectres.[4]

Despite butting heads with Hera's underlings Ezra Bridger, Garazeb Orrelios, and the astromech droid Chopper over the sensitive nature of the mission, Vander allowed Ezra to fly a Y-wing after the pilot Gold Two was wounded during an Imperial attack. Vander and Gold Squadron used their ion cannons to disable an Arquitens-class command cruiser before bombing it. They also formed a defensive perimeter around Mon Mothma's shuttle which gave the rebel leader and her crew enough time to board Hera's ship Ghost and escape to hyperspace.[4]

Secret Cargo Star Destroyers

Vander, Bridger, and the Ghost escape

Captain Syndulla suggested an old smuggler's route through the Archeon Nebula to escape the Lothal sector undetected. However, this tactic was deduced by Grand Admiral Thrawn, and he deployed two Imperial I-class Star Destroyers, as well as an experimental TIE/D Defender starfighter piloted by the ace pilot Commander Vult Skerris, to defeat them and take the Senator into Imperial custody. Although the TIE Defender took down his entire squadron save for himself and Bridger, the two cooperated to first defeat Skerris through their mounted ion cannons.[4]

After defeating Skerris, Vander warned Ezra that the seasoned TIE pilot would return. They later exited the Archeon Nebula only to find the Ghost being drawn into the tractor beam of one of the Imperial Star Destroyers. At Hera's command, Vander and Ezra fired their proton torpedoes into the Archeon Nebula, igniting the gas and triggering an inferno that engulfed the two Star Destroyers. The rebels then took the opportunity to safely escape to Dantooine. There, Captain Vander, Gold Two and the other rebels were present when Mon Mothma gave an impassioned speech urging the galaxy to rise up in rebellion against the Empire. Shortly later, a rebel fleet emerged from hyperspace[4] and the Alliance to Restore the Republic was formed.[8]

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.

Eventually, Vander and his squadron would be 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.[6] Vander and Gold Squadron, along with Blue, Green,[6] 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.[9]

Vander gave the order to take advantage of an opening in Imperial defenses, and he and four of his wing mates swooped into position to attack. The Gold Squadron pilots launched ion torpedoes at the Star Destroyer Persecutor, disabling it and allowing it to be rammed by a Sphyrna-class corvette, the Lightmaker. Colliding with the Star Destroyer Intimidator 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.[9] Vander survived the battle, and the actions of he and his squadron would prove beneficial in helping the Alliance to victory at Scarif, despite the high number of casualties.

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

Upon Vander's return to Yavin 4,[2] he had reached the status of quadruple ace, with twenty-two confirmed kills and 19,997 logged flight hours.[10] After the plans for the Death Star 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

Jon Vander was a human male with light-colored skin and brown eyes. While piloting his Y-wing, Gold One, Vander wore a orange flight suit and a white K-22995 flight helmet.[2] As Gold Leader, Jon Vander took care of his squadron mates. During a dangerous mission through the Archeon pass, Vander also became a mentor to the younger rebel pilot Ezra Bridger. He was also familiar with starfighter defensive tactics. Despite his earlier disagreement with the Spectres for their aggressive tactics and drawing the Empire's attention, he came to respect Phoenix Leader Hera Syndulla for her valor and creativity.[4]

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][9]

Behind the scenesEdit

Jon Vander was portrayed in 1977's Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope by Canadian actor Angus MacInnes; MacInnes later appeared as Vander in 2016's Rogue One: A Star Wars Story through a combination of archival footage and new lines recorded by MacInnes.[11] Vander is voiced by Yuri Lowenthal in Star Wars Rebels.

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 with the confirmation of "Dutch".[source?]

AppearancesEdit

SourcesEdit

Notes and referencesEdit