The United States Air Force Song- "Wild Blue Yonder" March 08 2012, 0 Comments

Contributed by: Jack Kopstein Continuing with our service songs' blog posts, today we learn the background on the U.S. Air Force's "Wild Blue Yonder." In 1938, Liberty magazine sponsored a contest for a spirited, enduring musical composition to become the official Army Air Corps song. Of 757 scores submitted, Robert Crawford’s was selected by a committee of Air Force wives. The song was officially introduced at the Cleveland Air Races on September 2, 1939. Fittingly, Crawford sang in its first public performance. The first page of the score, which Crawford submitted to the selection committee in July 1939, was carried to the surface of the moon on July 30, 1971 aboard the Apollo 15 “Falcon” lunar module by Colonel David R. Scott and Lieutenant Colonel James B. Irwin. Interestingly, at the moment the “Falcon” blasted off the surface of the moon with Scott and Irwin on board, a rendition of the “Air Force Song” was broadcast to the world by Major Alfred M. Worden, who had a tape recorder aboard the “Endeavor” command module which was in orbit around the moon. Scott, Irwin and Worden comprised the first and only “All-Air Force” Apollo crew and arranged to take the page of sheet music with them as a tribute to Crawford and the United States Air Force. Robert Crawford was born in Dawson, Yukon, Canada on July 27th 1899, just after the great Klondike Gold rush of 1897-98, but spent most of his boyhood in Fairbanks, Alaska. He attended Case University of Technology before transferring to Princeton University where he graduated in 1925 but continued his studies at the American School of Music in Fontaine Blue, France. He learned to fly in 1923 picking up the name The Flying Baritone. During the 1930s he conducted a variety of bands, orchestras and chorus and also sang solo. In WW2 he joined the Pan American Air Ferry Service which delivered planes for the US Army Air Corps and later Air Transport Command. He died in 1961 and is remembered at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia where the band rehearsal quarters were titled Crawford Hall.