Story by Tom Pace, special to the Press-Tribune
It was a picture-perfect day for a change of command ceremony at Barksdale Air Force Base. Clouds playing peek-a-boo with the sun, while an audience of Airmen and distinguished visitors watched the time-honored ceremony.
This time, it was Friday, April 17th, when Air Force Maj. Gen. Scott Vander Hamm relinquished command of the Mighty 8th Air Force to Maj. Gen. Richard Clark.
Set against the backdrop of a B-2 and B-52 looking into the maintenance hangar, everyone applauded as Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson, Commander of Global Strike, headquartered at Barksdale, began the proceedings.
Eight words: “Sir, I relinquish command,” followed by “Sir, I assume command,” and the ceremony was finished.
A command pilot with 4,200 flight hours, primarily in the B-1 bomber, also qualified in the B-52, Maj. Gen. Clark was excited to return to Barksdale for this new command assignment.
“I’d like to say it’s a real honor and privilege for me to be taking command of the 8th Air Force,” said Clark to the media, adding, “The B-52’s and the B-2’s are continuously on the backbone of our national security, and they will continue to do that.”
When asked about a four-star general taking command of Global Strike, Clark said, “It’s going to allow us to advocate at an even higher level for the needs we have in this command for our Global Strike capabilities, as well as our nuclear deterrence and assurance mission.”
“So I think having a four-star here will elevate us to the next level that Gen. Wilson and Gen. Kowalski have brought us to,” Clark concluded.
Maj. General Clark wears two hats: 1) as Commander of the 8th Air Force, and 2) as the Vice-Commander of Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) at B.A.F.B.
Tom Pace is executive editor & radio host “Talk of the Town” on The Promise 90.7FM