2016 seems to have had a more than usual number of military pilots that have been lost. As you read the many stories of crashes and accidents you may have seen someone comment, “Throw a Nickel on the Grass.”

There may be a bit of debate about the exact origins of the saying but all agree it is a tribute to a fallen pilot. There is an old military tradition of leaving a coin on a gravestone as a show of respect and this may be a variation of that.

Throw a nickel on the grass–Save a fighter pilot’s ass.
Oh, Halleliua, Oh, Halleliua
Throw a nickel on the grass and you’ll be saved…

Throw a Nickel on the Grass is more than just a saying, it is a fighter pilot’s song that has been sung for decades. The words imply good luck to the person throwing the nickel. Singing the song no doubt helped ease the tensions of wartime. It seems to have been a popular song for aviators to sing during the Korean and Vietnam eras.

Some say the tune is from an old Salvation Army band song and the words modified for military aviation. Share with us your story about the saying and song and what it means to you.

A folk song singer named Oscar Brand who loved singing military type songs recorded a version of Nickel on the Grass which you can listen to below.

Oh, Halleliua, Halleliua
Throw a nickel on the grass–Save a fighter pilot’s ass.
Oh, Halleliua, Oh, Halleliua
Throw a nickel on the grass and you’ll be saved.

I was cruising down the Yalu, doing six and twenty per
When a call came from the Major, Oh won ‘t you save me sir?
Got three flak holes in my wing tips, and my tanks ain’t got no gas.
Mayday, mayday, mayday, I got six MIGS on my ass.

I shot my traffic pattern, and to me it looked all right,
The airspeed read one-thirty, I really racked it tight!
Then the airframe gave a shudder, the engine gave a wheeze,
Mayday, mayday, mayday, spin instructions please.

It was split S on my Bomb run, and I got too God Damn low
But I pressed that bloody button, and I let those babies go
Sucked the stick back fast as blazes, when I hit a high speed stall
I won’t see my mother when the work all done next fall.

They sent me down to Pyongyang, the brief said “no ack ack”
by the time that I arrived there, my wings was mostly flak.
Then my engine coughed and sputtered, it was too cut up to fly
Mayday, mayday, mayday, I’m too young to die.

I bailed out from the Sabre, and the landing came out fine
With my E and E equipment, I made for our front line.
When I opened up ration, to see what was in it,
The God damn quartermaster why he filled the tin with grit.

Featured Image Courtesy of US Navy


This article is courtesy of Fighter Sweep.