- "I think General Dodonna is quite the tactician."
- ―Cesi Eirriss
Jan Dodonna was a Commenor-born soldier who served both Galactic Republic and the Galactic Empire. He was one of the first captains of a Star Destroyer in the last days of the Galactic Republic, having served in both the Stark Hyperspace War and the Clone Wars. Following his defection in 1 BBY, he became one of the first Generals in the Rebellion's military, overseeing the Rebel victory at the Battle of Yavin. Thought dead in the chaos of the Evacuation of Yavin, he had in fact been captured by the Empire and was imprisoned in the notorious Lusankya facility. Liberated in 9 ABY, he resumed service with the New Republic until his death in 24 ABY.
Serving the Republic (–19 BBY)
- "Blind obedience is not good service. I pledged to serve the principles of the Republic—not an office."
- ―Jan Dodonna, to Jace Dallin
Jan Dodonna was born on Commenor. He began his military career in the Judicial Forces, serving as a lieutenant in the crew of the cruiser Ardent IV during the Stark Hyperspace War. Dodonna held the rank of captain by the time of the Clone Wars and first rose to prominence during the conflict, becoming one of the finest Star Destroyer captains in the Republic Navy. Alongside his fellow captain Terrinald Screed, Dodonna commanded the two task forces that comprised the Victory Fleet.
After the Separatist Bulwark Fleet broke through the Republic's blockade of Foerost in 20.1 BBY, Dodonna and Screed clashed with Bulwark Fleet commander Dua Ningo at Ixtlar, Basilisk, and Alsakan. In the climactic Battle of Anaxes, Dodonna cornered Admiral Ningo and came under heavy fire in the atmosphere of Anaxes. Dodonna fought furiously, engaging Ningo's warships long enough to allow Screed to emerge from hyperspace and destroy Ningo's battlecruiser Unrepentant. Dodonna and Screed both returned to Coruscant as heroes, and Dodonna was awarded the Holt Cross on Anaxes three weeks after the battle he had fought there. As he traversed the Azure Walk, Dodonna physically supported his fellow honoree Screed, who had suffered nearly-mortal injuries in the battle at Anaxes.
Dodonna, along with Plo Koon, was later a member of the Republic negotiating team during the Battle of Rendili. Several months later he commanded the Republic fleet at the Battle of Cato Neimoidia.
Dodonna's grasp of strategy was particularly keen, and along with his old friend and fellow Republic officer Adar Tallon, Dodonna revolutionized the tactics of space combat. While Tallon's skill was in ship-to-ship warfare, Dodonna's expertise lay in logistics and siege tactics. He proposed a number of siege weapons, proposals later adopted by the Galactic Empire for their use in such operations as the Siege of Dalron Five and Project Asteroid.
- "You are now the hero of Saleucami, just as I am retroactively the hero of Rendili. There are no Jedi heroes. That is the new order of things."
- ―Jan Dodonna, to Sagoro Autem
As the Republic became the Galactic Empire, Dodonna served loyally for a time, even advising Autem to keep quiet about his feelings on the alleged "Jedi Rebellion." When the Sy Myrthian Insurrection began in 19 BBY, after the Separatist Senator Toonbuck Toora managed to reactivate a droid army in the Foundry of the Confederacy. Dodonna and his future fellow defector Admiral Adar Tallon were given command of the force to suppress it.
Deployed from Charros IV, Tallon and Dodonna led the 12th Sector Army in several months of attritional fighting on the world of Diado. After reducing Toora's forces there, they subsequently won another victory at Metalorn, before besieging Sy Myrth itself. Under Dodonna's expert guidance, the Empire eventually defeated the Separatists there. Tallon and Dodonna then chased down Toora's flagship, Defiance's Banner, with a task force led by the Praetor-class Star Battlecruiser Battalion. The end of the campaign came in the Trasemene system, after the Imperial task force cornered Toora's fleet there. In the ensuing battle, the Battalion ripped apart Toora's fleet with its turbolaser batteries, killing Toora and ending the insurrection.
Dodonna and Tallon's victories were celebrated in the Core Worlds, but Dodonna's loyalty to the Empire gradually became tested as it resorted to ever-more brutal acts of reprisal against purported sedition. Though he disliked what the Imperial regime was becoming, Dodonna's loyalty as a soldier led him to refuse to speak ill of it. Furthermore, he regarded the fledgling Rebel Alliance as a foolish provocation that would only cause chaos and misery. Disillusioned and unhappy, Dodonna eventually retired from the service on ideological grounds. The Empire, in turn, gave the famous war hero Commenor's moon Brelor, where he spent many years raising his son Vrad.
- "The target area is only two meters wide. It's a small thermal exhaust port right below the main port. The shaft leads directly to the reactor system. A precise hit will start a chain reaction which should destroy the station."
- ―Jan Dodonna instructing Rebel pilots, prior to the Battle of Yavin
Dodonna refused Mon Mothma's many offers for him to join her fledgling resistance movement, an act he considered treasonous. However, COMPNOR officials deemed him a poor candidate for "retraining" for the Emperor's use, and around 1 BBY, deciding he was less potentially dangerous dead, ordered his assassination.
The Rebellion learned of the assassination order, and sent a messenger team led by Roons Sewell to warn Dodonna. Dodonna scoffed at first, having lost much of his fighting spirit after years of retirement, and the team set up to leave. However, the arrival of the assassins re-awakened that spirit, and Dodonna fled. The Imperial troopers fired upon him, but the large target of his billowing nightclothes obscured the small, frail body hidden inside, and none of the shots found its mark. He arrived at the Rebels' ship and boarded just as it was preparing to leave.
In space, the messengers' slow freighter was pursued by an Imperial warship. Dodonna suggested a course of action to General Sewell, but in the heat of the moment, Sewell froze, and Dodonna took the controls of the vessel, executing his tactic and destroying the opposing vessel.
Dodonna joined the Rebellion and, after Sewell provided a glowing report of Dodonna's quick thinking, was immediately commissioned to General by Mon Mothma and placed under Sewell's command. He spent several months exercising and acquainting himself with the latest in technology and politics. His first major victory was at the Silken Asteroids, where he successfully coordinated the defense of a small Rebel base against Imperial incursion.
After the untimely death of General Sewell, Dodonna was placed in command of the Logistics and Supply Corps and the Alliance Starfighter Corps by Mon Mothma, becoming the most important military commander and advisor in the Alliance, second only to Mon Mothma herself. He also had responsibility for the Alliance's ground headquarters, and kept the ground HQ in motion so as to avoid Imperial detection; planets that held the base under his command included Chrellis, Brigia, Orion IV, Dantooine, and Yavin 4.
Dodonna's multiple commands came about owing to the need for a respected military commander who could broker the three-way tensions between Mon Mothma, Garm Bel Iblis, and Bail Organa. A proponent of the largely-unfashionable view that the Starfighter Corps should be a separate branch of the military, Dodonna believed that hyperspace-capable starfighters could undermine the Empire's control of space. He demonstrated this with Y-wing raids that destroyed Star Destroyer fleets at Denab and Tarawa. Thereafter, finding suitable targets for starfighters became the priority for Alliance Intelligence, while Dodonna geared Ordnance and Supply and the Support Services to providing the materiel and men for raiding.
During his time in the Alliance High Command on Dantooine, Dodonna performed different field missions with tactics prodigy Risiev Credal, who was his protégée alongside Colonel Beryl Chiffonage. With the help of Walex Blissex, designer of the Victory-class Star Destroyer, Dodonna modified the R-22 Spearhead into the fast, nimble A-wing starfighter; the first prototypes saw action before the Battle of Yavin, though the final version would include lessons about the value of raw speed learned during that battle. He began work on the Battle Analysis Computer, which became so identified with him that it was often called "Dodonna's Battle Analysis Computer"; it would go uncompleted until just after the Battle of Endor, seeing its first use at the Invasion of Bakura. His son Vrad also joined the Alliance, and become a starfighter pilot.
With plans brought to him by Princess Leia Organa which were downloaded from R2-D2, Dodonna helped plan the attack on the Death Star. At first, the situation seemed hopeless, as the station's defenses exceeded Dodonna's worst fears; the only strategy he could conceive that stood any chance was crashing wave after wave of the Alliance's heaviest vessels into the station, on the slim chance there would be sufficient damage to neutralize it; this would effectively destroy the Rebellion, but would allow a new one to grow without the Death Star threatening them. Dodonna prepared to go to sleep, but instead wandered the halls for fresh air. While doing so, he encountered a small child, weeping over a nightmare about a dragon coming to burn her village. Dodonna comforted her with an old tale of a Jedi Knight finding a hole in the dragon's scaly armor, killing it. Inspired, Dodonna ran back to his quarters and scoured the plans for a similar hole, eventually finding one in the form of a small exposed thermal exhaust port that led directly to the main reactor. The data showed that the defenses of the Death Star were built around large-scale attacks, allowing a small starfighter to attack the vulnerable exhaust port. Dodonna designed the starfighter attack that was successful in destroying the battle station, and briefed the Rebel pilots prior to the assault on the battlestation. Shortly afterwards, he was called in to deal with the short-lived super-vaporator project on Tatooine, though this soon fell through, and he returned to Yavin.
Following the destruction of the Death Star, the Empire blockaded Yavin 4 while Darth Vader waited for the Super Star Destroyer Executor to be completed. When it was, Vader brought it to finish the Rebels, but was stopped by a suicide strike delivered by Vrad. Heartbroken, Jan set up the Yavin base to explode, taking out a number of TIE Fighters and buying more time for the evacuation. He was believed to be killed in the blast, but in reality he had been captured by Imperial forces.
He was eventually sent to Lusankya. The Imperials were unable to turn him into a sleeper agent. Dodonna spent several years at Lusankya, becoming the leader of the prisoners there. Dodonna later encountered Corran Horn, a member of Rogue Squadron, and aided in Horn's escape, saving him from the general Evir Derricote. When offered to join him in freedom, he declined, saying Ysanne Isard would take it out on the other prisoners. He stayed at Lusankya until he was moved by Isard. Eventually, Rogue Squadron found the surviving Lusankya prisoners, and Dodonna was finally freed.
After being freed, Dodonna served on the New Republic council, and gathered together an ad-hoc advisory body consisting of himself and other such aged luminaries as Vanden Willard, Pashna Starkiller, and his old friend Adar Tallon. Calling themselves the "Gray Cadre", they advised the New Republic during the resurgence of the Empire under the clone of Palpatine.
After the defeat of the cloned Emperor, Dodonna was given a special appointment to the Inner Council's High Command as "Executive Advisor", where he adopted the issue of re-integrating Coruscant's feral Humans into society. Shortly afterward, Dodonna returned to retirement, settling on New Alderaan, where he peacefully passed away prior to the start of the Yuuzhan Vong War.
Dodonna's strategic acumen was sorely missed by New Republic leaders during the Yuuzhan Vong War, though many of them were relieved that he had died knowing a galaxy at peace. The Rebellion named a CR90 corvette Dodonna's Pride in his honor. It was used to disrupt Imperial supply lines during the Galactic Civil War. The Galactic Alliance Defense Fleet later named a Galactic-class battle carrier Dodonna in his memory.
Behind the scenes
Jan Dodonna's only film appearance was in A New Hope, where he was played by Alex McCrindle. He was voiced by James Blendick in the Star Wars radio drama, Clive Revill in the special edition of the game Star Wars: X-Wing, Jarion Monroe in the game Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds, and Wayne Grace in Star Wars: Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike. Dodonna is mentioned in Star Wars: Empire at War during the Rebel campaign and was intended to be a playable character, but was cut.
In The Star Wars: First Draft, George Lucas renamed a Sith knight character "Dodona" from Valorum, as he considered, in that draft alone, renaming the Starkiller family the "Valor" family, and the names conflicted. "Dodona" was one of the few names from that draft that reappeared in the Adventures of the Starkiller, Episode I: The Star Wars (the second draft), when it was definitively assigned to a Rebel general on Yavin 4.
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