Flightlines

“Here’s Why” of the week

Taking our “Here’s Why” from the paper to the blog. An explanation for why something is the way it is in the Air Force/military.

If you’ve ever been a cadet at the Air Force Academy, or just an attendee at an Academy football game, you’ve probably heard the Falcon Fight song:

Fly ye Falcons down the field;

Tear the enemy asunder!

Forrest Ray, composer of the USAF Academy Fight Song, pictured with ‘The 55ers’ in June, 1955. Ray is the Tubist in the fourth row on the left. (Air Force photo)

Bare your talons, make them yield;

Give them all your thunder!

Spread your strong wings high and wide;

Fight for victory!

Never say die, keep flying high

For your Air Force Academy!

This all had to do with retired Tech. Sgt. Forrest Ray, who wrote the song in 1955, about a year after the Academy was founded. Composing the original, his song almost didn’t make the cut. Why?

“Because [Ray] was an initial cadre at the Academy, he was privileged to be part of a close-knit group of musicians who dubbed themselves ‘The 55ers,’” said Mrs. Virginia Ray, the retired technical sergeant’s wife in an Air Force release.

“The 55ers were called on to train cadets because there were no upperclassmen. There was a contest to get the airmen to compose an alma mater and fight song. My husband came up with a fight song, but he missed the deadline due to the rigors of music composition and editing. Nevertheless, he did get it finished and turned [it] in.”

Luckily, Ray’s arrangement was approved by first Academy band commander, Capt. “Costy” Costenbader, because he “hadn’t heard anything he liked better.” It became the Academy’s official fight song titled “Falcon Fight!”

Forrest left the Academy in 1965 so his gratification would come much later.

“Forrest never knew until some 40 years later when I was surfing the Internet and came across it. I asked him if he recognized the tune and he replied that it sounded familiar. I said, ‘Well, it says here you wrote it.’”

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