The Air Force Song: Full Lyrics

U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds Air Demonstration Squadron

Airman 1st Class Kevin Tanenbaum/Nellis A.F.B./Wikimedia Commons

Each branch of the U.S. military has its own song for formal ceremonies. They're played by military bands at service academy football games, boot camp and basic training graduations, and more formal ceremonies like retirements, funerals, weddings of military members, and holiday events like Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

The Air Force's song titled simply "The U.S. Air Force" is best known for its opening line "Off we go into the wild blue yonder." 

History of the Air Force Song

In 1937, after the U.S. military had been developing airplanes for more than a decade, 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.

In 1938, Liberty Magazine offered a $1,000 prize in a contest for composers to come up with a suitable song for the Air Force. A committee of Army Air Force wives selected Robert MacArthur Crawford's composition, which was officially introduced at the Cleveland Air Races in 1939. The Air Force actually did not exist as a separate branch of the U.S. military until 1947.

Lyrics to the Air Force Song

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 will stop the U.S. Air Force!

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!

Toast to the Host Lyrics

This verse commemorates fallen Air Force service members, and has a different melody and more somber 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!

Playing 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, they 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 a program for non-members to join.

Playing the Air Force Song Outdoors

As with an indoor rendition, Air Force members and veterans should stand at attention, or march in formation at a parade. If standing, they should remain at attention until the last note is played. It's not proper etiquette to salute during this song. The same courtesy is given to sister service songs, such as the Marine Corps hymn and Anchors Aweigh.