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Fifty-second Eighth Air Force commander departs, new leader takes helm of bomber force

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. --

Maj. Gen. Richard M. Clark, the 52nd commander of Eighth Air Force, relinquished command of the nation’s bomber force to Maj. Gen. Thomas Bussiere during a change of command ceremony here today.

 

Formations of Airmen lined the ceremony as friends, family, local and state community leaders and Airmen across the bomber community paid tribute to Clark and welcomed the new commander.

 

The commander of Air Force Global Strike Command officiated the event.

 

“General Clark’s accomplishments as commander have been no less than stellar,” Gen. Robin Rand, AFGSC commander said. “No one has led this command better than Rich Clark.”

 

In his final moments as commander, Clark reflected upon his time within “The Mighty Eighth.”

 

“We are a family,” Clark said. “As your commander, it has been the single greatest honor of my career to serve with this family. However, I will rest easy knowing that the Airmen here and your new commander will carry on the legacy of the greatest bomber force ever known.”

 

With the passing of the Eighth Air Force flag, Bussiere officially became the 53rd commander of The Mighty Eighth, an organization with more than 20,000 Airmen and upwards of 150 B-1, B-2 and B-52 bombers.

 

“The formation of bomber Airmen here today represent not only the strength of our Air Force, but the strength of our nation,” Bussiere said. “There is not an Airman among you not responsible for making this the greatest bomber command in all of history.”

 

However, more than one flag passed into the hands of the new commander during the ceremony.

 

As the leader for U.S. bomber forces, Bussiere assumed the role of commander of Joint Functional Component Command for Global Strike, which plans and executes strategic deterrence and global strike operations for U.S. Strategic Command. Additionally, Bussiere also commands Task Force 204, which oversees the Air Force nuclear bomber and reconnaissance activities in support of USSTRATCOM.

 

The roles and responsibilities as the leader of the Air Force’s bomber force are many, but Bussiere said he remains eager for the challenge.

 

“Together we will nurture and care for our Airmen and our families. Together we will fly, fight and win. Together we will carry our legacy with us into the future and add even more firsts to the history books,” Bussiere said. “The challenges are and will continue to be significant, but who better to meet those challenges than the Mighty Eighth.”