The Air Force Song - Full Lyrics

By Robert Crawford, Courtesy USAF Heritage Of America Band

Air Force Thunderbirds
••• US Air Force - F16. .mil

All of the military branches have their own song that they sing at ceremonies and march to during formal parades.  Often you will hear them played by military bands at Service Academy football games, boot camp / basic training graduations, and more formal ceremonies like retirements, funerals, weddings of military members, and holiday events like Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and the birthday celebrations of the service branch.

How Was The Air Force Song Created?

In 1937, after a solid decade of development of the military use of airplanes, the Assistant Chief of the Air Corps (Brigadier General Henry Arnold) thought the Army Air Corps needed a fight song similar to the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. The Air Force Song - actually titled, "The U.S. Air Force" was created when Liberty Magazine promoted a contest for a song for the then Army Air Force back in 1938. The magazine offered a $1,000 prize to the composer with the song that suited the Army Air Force the best. A committee of Army Air Force wives selected Robert MacArthur Crawford (1899-1961) composition which was officially introduced to America at the Cleveland Air Races in 1939 by Robert Crawford himself. The Air Force did not exist as a separate branch of the military until 1947.

Song Lyrics:

Off we go into the wild blue yonder,

Climbing high into the sun;

Here they come zooming to meet our thunder, 

At 'em boys, Give 'er the gun! (Give 'er the gun now!) 

Down we dive, spouting our flame from under,

Off with one helluva roar! 

We live in fame or go down in flame. Hey! 

Nothing'll stop the U.S. Air Force!

Additional Verses:

Minds of men fashioned a crate of thunder, 

Sent it high into the blue;

Hands of men blasted the world asunder;

How they lived God only knew! (God only knew then!)

Souls of men dreaming of skies to conquer 

Gave us wings, ever to soar! 

With scouts before And bombers galore. Hey! 

Nothing'll stop the U.S. Air Force!

Bridge: "A Toast to the Host"

NOTE: This verse commemorates those fallen Air Force service members and our great country. This is a different melody and reflects a more somber and reverent mood.  

Here's a toast to the host

Of those who love the vastness of the sky,

To a friend we send a message of his brother men who fly.

We drink to those who gave their all of old,

Then down we roar to score the rainbow's pot of gold.

A toast to the host of men we boast, the U.S. Air Force!


Off we go into the wild sky yonder, 

Keep the wings level and true; 

If you'd live to be a grey-haired wonder 

Keep the nose out of the blue! (Out of the blue, boy!)

Flying men, guarding the nation's border, 

We'll be there, followed by more! 

In echelon we carry on. Hey

Nothing'll stop the U.S. Air Force!

Notes: Crawford didn't write "Hey!"; he actually wrote "SHOUT!" without specifying the word to be shouted. Wherever they appear, the words "U.S. Air Force" have been changed from the original "Army Air Corps." Words in parentheses are spoken, not sung. 

"The U.S. Air Force" song and lyrics won the contest out of more than 750 submitted and has stood the time as the country's Air Force has continued to evolve into jet propulsion, missiles, rockets, and part of the nuclear triad. Having a branch of service that dominates the air has been a technological marvel by world-class engineers and brave pilots, and government officials with genius foresight.

During the Playing of the Air Force Song Indoors

Air Force members and Veterans whether in uniform or civilian clothes should stand at attention and sing if possible. Typically, you will only sing the first verse of the Air Force Song and if at an Air Force ceremony like a retirement, wedding, memorial service or funeral the words are printed in the program for the ceremony for non-members to join.

During the Playing of the Air Force Song Outdoors

Air Force members and Veterans whether in uniform or civilian clothes, should stand at attention, if possible, or march in formation at a parade and stay at the position of attention from the first to last note of the music. Do not salute. The same courtesy is rendered to sister service songs.