People We Knew
In the military service, and especially in combat, it is possible to experience the most intense moments of life. The memory of those who share those experiences is stamped as indelibly upon our hearts and minds as the blood and toil of those events. The military is a hierarchy, and certain characteristics are prepositioned. Some commanders are poor leaders; subordinates are not expected to lead, so they are not castigated if they lack the talent. Some commanders I would follow into Hell because I knew they would bring me out again, and with victory in hand. I had wingmen who were better at leading and flying than I; there were others who required my special attention all the time. Some organizations carried a living, breathing persona. Others were hardly more than a letterhead and a unit patch on the sleeve of my flight suit. The unit's personality was a direct function of it's mission, where it was located, and mostly of the people who served in it. In today's Air Force, there are women who fly and fight right alongside the men. In my generation, there were no female sky warriors. The women in our life were wives/sweethearts/mothers and frequently a long way away. We thought about them a lot, wrote them letters, sent them flowers, and avowed our undying love. All the people - good, bad or otherwise - still live in our memories, and will until we depart the fix. Dick Jonas was born and raised in the Suwannee River valley of northern Florida. He served four years as an infantryman in the Georgia Army National Guard while attending Valdosta State College. Upon graduation in 1965 he entered the Air Force, receiving his commission through Officer Training School. In 22 years service he flew 3,000 jet fighter hours in the F-4 and 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. After retirement from the Air Force, in 1986, he became an Aerospace Science Instructor in the Air Force Junior ROTC program. During 1991 and 92, in 325 performances he played the leading role in Guv: The Musical, a stage production of the Mill Avenue Theater in Tempe, Arizona. Dick retired from the teaching profession after 15 years of service, in June 2004. He is now a fulltime entertainer and music producer. His aim is to preserve and perpetuate the legacy of America's warrior musicians - The songs we sang about the planes we flew and the people we knew in the wars we fought. He is known as 'America's Foremost Military Aviation Song Writer and Balladeer.' He has produced nineteen albums of his kind of music, and published two books - RBAAB: The Red-Blooded, All-American Boy and PTF: Passing the Flame. The two books contain lyrics and war stories of the songs on his CDs. Dick is an actor, a writer, a guitar-player, a singer, and a businessman. He also flies. He and his wife, Mary, reside in Chino Valley, just north of Prescott, Arizona.