Air Force Scrubs 'Male-Only References' from its Official Song

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A U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker aircrew walk to their aircraft on March Air Reserve Base
A U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker aircrew from the 336th Air Refueling Squadron walk to their aircraft on March Air Reserve Base, Calif. on Dec. 18, 2017. (U.S. Air Force/Master Sgt. Eric Harris / Released)

The U.S. Air Force has updated all of the verses in its official song to be gender-neutral.

In an announcement Friday, the service said it has removed all "male-only references" in the song, known as "Wild Blue Yonder," which is traditionally sung before service events.

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"These new lyrics speak more accurately to all we do, all that we are and all that we strive to be as a profession of arms," Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said Friday. "They add proper respect and recognition to everyone who serves and who has served."

In February, the Air Force announced it had updated the third verse, sung at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and often performed independently of the other verses.

After many conversations with young men and women, a group of academy cadets fashioned "a better third verse," Goldfein revealed during the Air Warfare Symposium.

The old version of the third verse went, "A toast to the host of the men we boast."

It was changed to, "A toast to the host of those we boast."

The chief said the song, which dates back to the Army Air Corps before the Air Force was established as a separate service in 1947, reflected a different time period and a different team, one that was too "exclusive" to represent today's reality, especially as the service continues to grow more diverse and adds more women across its ranks.

Women currently make up about 20 percent of the Air Force.

"I also know with absolute certainty and clarity that these changes are about adding to, not subtracting from, who we are," Goldfein said Friday. "Changing the lyrics in no way diminishes the history and accomplishments of men or dilutes our eternal gratitude for their sacrifice and bravery."

The changes are reflected in bold below:

(Verse I)

Off we go into the wild blue yonder,

Climbing high into the sun;

Here they come zooming to meet our thunder,

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

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!

(Verse II)

Brilliant minds fashioned a crate of thunder, (old verse: Minds of men)

Sent it high into the blue;

Valiant hands blasted the world asunder; (old verse: Hands of men)

How they lived, God only knew!

Boundless souls dreaming of skies to conquer (old verse: Souls of men)

Gave us wings, ever to soar!

With scouts before and bombers galore. Hey!

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

(Verse III)

Here's a toast to the host

Of those who love the vastness of the sky,

To a friend we send a message of the brave who serve on high. (old verse: 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 those we boast, the U.S. Air Force!

(Verse IV)

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!

Fly to fight, guarding the nation's border, (old verse: Flying men)

We'll be there, followed by more!

In echelon we carry on.

Oh, nothing'll stop the U.S. Air Force!

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

Related: The Air Force Has Updated its Song to Be Gender-Neutral

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