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Throw A Nickle in the Grass...

yak52driver

Active Member
Contributor
#1
I took a gentleman up yesterday that flew A-4's during Vietnam for the Marines. When we finished the flight he gave me a small glass container with plastic grass like would be used in an Easter basket with a nickel in it. He then said "Throw a nickel in the grass, save a fighter pilot's ass. That will keep you safe." I've looked up the phrase and have found song lyrics, but beyond that no real explanation on AW or the internet. Does anyone have background on this? Is it a tradition? Thanks.
 

Flugelman

Active Member
Contributor
#2
My Step-Dad (Korean era Naval Aviator) would sing that to the grandkids (with lyrics suitably modified) so I've heard it for years.
 

BusyBee604

St. Francis/Hugh Hefner Combo!
pilot
Super Moderator
Contributor
#3
f445.jpg
Does anyone have background on this? Is it a tradition? Thanks.
Believe this was written by a USAF Fighter Pilot during the Korean war era. I have heard it sung by VF Pilots since I was a "Nugget", many moons ago. It is also recorded in an excellent CD collection of North Vietnam Air War songs. They are sung, produced & sold by Captain Dick Jonas USAF, an F-4 Phantom driver, who flew with the famous COL Robin Old's "Wolf Pack" (remember Operation Bolo). I met Dick Jonas in Phoenix about 20 years ago, he had some really great "TINS" stories about COL Olds, who' s military history is unique. f445.jpg
BzB
 

BusyBee604

St. Francis/Hugh Hefner Combo!
pilot
Super Moderator
Contributor
#4
View attachment 10042

Believe this was written by a USAF Fighter Pilot during the Korean war era. I have heard it sung by VF Pilots since I was a "Nugget", many moons ago. It is also recorded in an excellent CD collection of North Vietnam Air War songs. They are sung, produced & sold by Captain Dick Jonas USAF, an F-4 Phantom driver, who flew with the famous COL Robin Old's "Wolf Pack" (remember Operation Bolo). I met Dick Jonas in Phoenix about 20 years ago, he had some really great "TINS" stories about COL Olds, who' s military history is unique.
BzB
For those who may be interested...CDs available on Amazon.com. Excellent, country style Fighter/Attack music!:cool:
BzB

41FTPHK34KL__SL500_SS75_.jpg 41AQXXHCKBL__SL500_AA300_.jpg 412DTNP19QL__SL500_SS75_.jpg 41W2CTYJ8JL__SL500_AA300_.jpg 41KGQMJG3PL__SL500_SS140_.jpg
 

OscarMyers

oh its gonna fit...
None
#5
Sounds like some good drinking music. They're also on Itunes if you want to listen to the clips. Good Stuff BusyBee. On a side note, I enjoyed that article you did for the TWS site.
 

blackbart22

Active Member
pilot
#7
It's a modification of the old drinking song "Salvation Army" as in "Salvation Army, throw a nickel on the drum, save another drunken bum."
 
#9
In 1960 one of my father's favorite LPs included those by Oscar Brand who sang the tune, "Throw a Nickel on the Grass". I still have the lyrics booklet from the album. The folk artist belted out hundreds of songs honoring our military, with lyrics for the same tune rewritten for a different service. A couple of years ago I found someone had remastered a goodly number of the albums on CD and bought a collection of that online auction site. Sorry I can't recall the squadron of origin (Korean War), but I also heard it was a resurrection of a WWII fighter squadron tradition-- kinda like the drinking cups on walls of contemporaneous bomber squadrons.

Within the U.S. Air Force fighter pilot community, the term “throw a nickel on the grass” embodies an expression of mutual respect and good luck from one warrior to another. the term was later used in an unknown author’s closing words in "Tribute to the Fighter Pilot" … “So here’s a nickel on the grass to you, my friend, and your spirit, enthusiasm, sacrifice and courage - but most of all to your friendship. Your’s is a dying breed and when you are gone, the world will be a lesser place.”

Funny I found this thread... Not long ago, I put, "When throwing a nickel on grass just even enough..." outside my cube at a Marine aircraft manufacturing facility. More than one has asked, "What the F**K is THAT supposed to mean?".
 

Catmando

Keep your knots up.
pilot
Super Moderator
Contributor
#10
Although it was mainly an Air Force song, we often sang it too during Vietnam... with some of our own lyrics.

Listen to Throw a Nickel On the Grass (free MP3)

Oh, there ain't no fighter pilots clown in Hell
There ain't no fighter pilots down in Hell
The place is full of queers, navigators, bombardiers
And there ain't no fighter pilots down in Hell

*********************************************
Viet vet, Viet vet; super shit-hot fighter jock, you bet
Lawdy, Lawdy, Lawdy, you're looking at a Viet vet
Shooting down MiGs and dropping bombs
Terror of the skies over Vietnam
Lawdy, Lawdy, Lawdy, I'm my mama's little Viet vet
Flying jet planes off of flattop boats
Robert S. McNamara blows dead goats
 
#11
Something else from the cobwebs in my mind-- In the times when phone calls were a nickel, you threw a nickel out should someone need to make the call, you weren't coming home. Like "break a leg" in the performing arts, the act was a poke into the eye of fate.
 
#12
Nickel on the Grass was a highly classified program to study a captured MIG-21's flight characteristics. Hence, save a fighter pilot's ass. - Dennis Hughes VA-172 A-4C 1968-69
 

BusyBee604

St. Francis/Hugh Hefner Combo!
pilot
Super Moderator
Contributor
#14
Dennis Hughes VA-172 A-4C 1968-69
Great to see another "Scooter Driver" here, only a couple on AW at present. I was an IP in VA-44 at Cecil when you were in VA-172. Flew A-4s 1959-74 in VAs-94, 55, 125, 146 & 44. Care to share your A-4 war/sea stories here?:D
BzB
 

brownshoe

Well-Known Member
Contributor
#15
Nickel on the Grass was a highly classified program to study a captured MIG-21's flight characteristics. Hence, save a fighter pilot's ass. - Dennis Hughes VA-172 A-4C 1968-69
When did you go through 44? I was there with, Corkyboy and Derf (members here at AW who no longer post) during the mid to late 60’s. Hangar 67, Yuma, and the Lex? Fun times!

Steve
 
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