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Happy Birthday Eighth Air Force

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Gebara giving a few remarks at the 8th Air Force 80th birthday celebration on Tuesday, February 1. (Stacey Tinsley, Bossier Press-Tribune)

On Tuesday, February 1, the Eighth Air Force turned 80. To commemorate this milestone, a special cake cutting ceremony was held at Barksdale Air Force Base.

Prior to the ceremony, U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Andrew Gebara spoke a to attendees regarding what “The Mighty Eighth” looked like during WWII versus today’s current operations.

“Being the commander of the “Mighty 8th,” is the best job in the Air Force. I am so humbled to be a part of it. Considering the amazing history that is part of this organization, it’s just hard not to be humbled with the sacrifices of those that came before us to ensure our way of life,” Maj. Gen. Gebara said.

“As you look back, when we started 80 years ago, the 8th Air Force was founded by a group of people that were smaller than those sitting here today,” Maj. Gen. Gebara added.

“Whether it be WWII, whether it be the Cold War, whether it be Vietnam or whether it be the War on Terror that we’ve seen more recently, the men and women of the Mighty 8th Air Force know how to accelerate change. As we look to the future of the Mighty Eighth Air Force and the Air Force Global Strike Command, the organization of tomorrow will look very little to what it is today. And, it is going to happen within the next couple of years,” Maj. Gen. Gebara concluded.

As a part of the Eighth Air Force celebration, Bossier City Mayor Tommy Chandler and Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins presented proclamations honoring this special occasion. Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards also sent a special recognition document.

The history of the Eighth Air Force is listed below:

The Eighth Air Force was first activated under the designation as the VIII Bomber Command on February 1, 1942 at Langley Field, Virginia and soon moved to England under its parent unit, the Eighth Air Force. Later that month on February 22, 1944, the United States Army Air Forces reorganized its air headquarters in Europe, with the Eighth Air Force becoming the United States Strategic Air Forces in Europe. On the same day, the VIII BC officially became known as the Eighth Air Force.

By mid-1944, the Eighth Air Force had reached a total strength of more than 200,000 people. At its peak strength, the Eighth Air Force could dispatch more than 2,000 four-engine heavy bombers and more than 1,000 fighters on a single mission. For these reasons, the Eighth Air Force became known as “The Mighty Eighth.”

Since 1994, the Eighth Air Force has participated in a string of contingency operations, such as: Operation Desert Strike in 1996 and Operation Desert Fox in 1998. Both of these operations took place in Iraq. And, in 1999, Operation Allied Force took place in tthe Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

The Eighth Air Force headquarters also supported the Commander-in-Chief with facilities and staff expertise when President George Bush landed at Barksdale Air Force Base in Bossier City on the morning of September 11, 2001. The President addressed the nation about the “9/11” attacks from the Eighth Air Force Commander’s Conference Room. Afterward, the “Mighty Eighth” went on to participate in three operations: Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

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