2006 Founder Award – Country Music Video of the Year – 16th Annual LA Music Awards
Popular Lompoc musician and entertainer Jonathan Wild, a Vietnam veteran who gained widespread recognition for his patriotic music, confirmed Monday that he is battling throat cancer.
Speaking in a whisper from his home in Lompoc, Wild said he will begin radiation treatments this week in Santa Barbara for squamous cell carcinoma, a malignant cancer that is often linked to Vietnam veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange, the deadly defoliant that the U.S. military used in the Vietnam war.
Wild, 58, said he first thought that he was growing hoarse from inhaling smoke and ash while singing at functions in the Santa Ynez Valley during the spread of the recent Zaca Fire.
It became increasingly difficult to sing and the glands in his throat began to swell, Wild said. His doctor put him on antibiotics, but when his condition did not improve, Wild went to Sansum Clinic in Santa Barbara, where doctors completed a CT scan on his throat.
“The tumor is pushing on my vocal chords,C he said.
Wild said the cancer has forced him to cancel several engagements, including one in November, when he was scheduled to perform at the Crystal Palace in Bakersfield for troops returning from Afghanistan.
Wild attended the event last year to sing his award-winning song, “Keep Old Glory Flying.C The event included a dinner for troops and money from the concert benefited local veterans programs.
“I had to call my people and cancel it,C Wild said. “It broke my heart.C He said he also canceled a potential trip to Iraq to sing to troops overseas.
Wild said he believes the cancer may be the result of Agent Orange exposure from his service in Vietnam. He said he has seen the effects of Agent Orange on his feet before, but that he was given a spray for the condition.
“What a crushing twist of fate, that after so many years, this war could reach out its ghastly hand and attack him in the very heart of his existence 7 his glorious voice!C his sister, Cheryl, of Lompoc, wrote in an e-mail to the Record.
The entertainer performs regularly in Lompoc at such events as the Olde Towne Market and at the annual American Cancer Society Relay for Life fundraiser and numerous other functions and benefits.
He said he is especially proud of Survivor 9/11, a collection of songs he put together on a compact disc that was sold locally to benefit survivors of the Sept. 11 attacks. The disc included his recording of “Keep Old Glory Flying.C
Alice Milligan, who helped coordinate Wild/s performances at the Old Towne Market and other benefits through the Lompoc Valley Chamber of Commerce, recalled the Survivor 9/11 fundraiser.
“We raised about ,6,000 to ,7,000 for that,C she said. “Wild donated his equipment, talent and time for the cause.C
Milligan described Wild as a selfless person who has never turned down a chance to help others.
Much of his work for others was in the public eye, but not all of it. Wild sometimes used his home as a shelter for abandoned children, providing care for them as long as needed.
“All the children would come to my home,C he said. “We took them in until they were able to be placed with a relative.C
Wild said people are still asking him to attend and sing at events and that it hurts him to have to decline.
“I want to thank them (the community) from the bottom of my heart for every blessing,C Wild said. “It/s a blessing to be asked to be a part of so many special events.C
Jonathan and Jamie Wild have three children. The family asked for prayers of healing in the community, so that he would soon be able to sing again.
Wild said he already misses singing for people.
“It/s like not being able to walk for me.C
Ryan McMaster can be reached at 737-1057 or email@example.com.