Dick Jonas - FU Hero
Lt Col Dick Jonas is the pied piper of fighter pilot music. He showed us the soul of a fighter pilot during War time. He was able to do that because he’s one of us. Most of his music comes from a time he was intimately familiar with, the War in Southeast Asia. Dick wrote songs about the Wolf Pack, the F-105 Thud, hassling with MiGs up north, and just about anything a fighter pilot would experience during that period.
His ballad about Robin Olds is a classic and tells the story of how Robin “led the Wolf Pack to victory over the skies of Hanoi’s Hills.” Dick is so much more than a fighter pilot; he’s a poet who told stories about fighter pilots flying and how some never came home. Most of that was from his personal experiences. Songs like “Blue Four” speak about departing with four and returning with a three ship, something every fighter pilot flying combat missions fears.
Dick talks about writing music on his web site, erosonic.com. He said, “Humans deliver their most poignant profundities either from the depths of despair or the peaks of ecstasy and when delivered by a poet at the business end of a gun barrel, they end up in a song as often as not.”
Dick’s influence on fighter aviation has lasted long past the Vietnam War. He had a huge impact on many young fighter pilots over the last forty years. I witnessed this first hand in my first fighter squadron, The 497th TFS Hooters, Taegu AB, Korea. We would often play Dick’s tapes in our Hootch and listen to the stories he would tell. Squadrons like the Hooters and 80th Juvats at Kunsan had their own singing groups with names like “Bellmouth and the Intakes” and “The Juvat Boys Choir.” We were inspired to write music for our own squadrons through Dick’s example with songs like “tales that I can tell.”
Tales That I Can Tell
Dick’s continues playing his music for veteran groups, River Rat Reunions, and even active duty fighter pilots in the Air Force. His music and poetry are timeless. Fighter Pilot music took a new twist during the last decade with Dos Gringos arriving on the scene with their own version of modern fighter pilot music. I think it's safe to say that Dos Gringos music was influenced in large part by Dick. They continue to spread the fighting spirit of our trade and give everyone some insight into what makes fighter pilots tick.
Dick Jonas was born and raised in the Suwannee River valley of northern Florida. He graduated from Valdosta State College in 1965 with a BS degree in Physics and Math. He entered the Air Force and received his commission through Officer Training School. In 22 years service he flew 3,000 jet fighter hours in the F-4 and the F-16. During 125 missions in Vietnam he earned the Distinguished Flying Cross with two oak leaf clusters and the Air Medal with 12 clusters.
He has produced twenty-three albums and published three books about military folkmusic. He has published a series of books about fighter pilot philosophy. He has written, arranged, published, and recorded 115 musical compositions. His CDs and books are available at Erosonic, in Chino Valley, Arizona, and online at erosonic.com, Amazon.com, CD Baby, and iTunes. Dick and his wife, Mary, reside in Chino Valley, just north of Prescott, Arizona.
The Faculty at Fighter Pilot University is proud to add Dick Jonas to our “Hall of Hero’s.” Dick has allowed us all to have an intimate look inside the spirit of the Fighter Pilot. We thank Dick for his contributions to fighter aviation and for his service to our nation. We also thank him for allowing us to share his music with our student body at Fighter Pilot University.
John R. 'Chilly' Childers, LtCol, USAF, Ret