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

From left, U.S. Navy Admiral Cecil Haney, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, U.S. Air Force Gen. Robin Rand, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, Maj. Gen. Thomas Bussiere, incoming Eighth Air Force/Task Force 204/Joint Force Component Command for Global Strike commander, and Maj. Gen. Richard Clark, exiting 8AF, JFCC-GS, TF204 commander, stand during a change of command ceremony at Barksdale AFB, La., Oct. 4.

From left, U.S. Navy Admiral Cecil Haney, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, U.S. Air Force Gen. Robin Rand, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, Maj. Gen. Thomas Bussiere, incoming Eighth Air Force/Task Force 204/Joint Force Component Command for Global Strike commander, and Maj. Gen. Richard Clark, exiting 8AF, JFCC-GS, TF204 commander, stand during a change of command ceremony at Barksdale AFB, La., Oct. 4.

From left, U.S. Air Force Gen. Robin Rand, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, passes the Eighth Air Force flag to Maj. Gen. Thomas Bussiere signifying the changing of command for The Mighty Eighth. Bussiere is the 53rd commander of the Eighth Air Force and responsible for all of the Service's bomber fleets. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joseph Raatz)

From left, U.S. Air Force Gen. Robin Rand, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, passes the Eighth Air Force flag to Maj. Gen. Thomas Bussiere signifying the changing of command for The Mighty Eighth. Bussiere is the 53rd commander of the Eighth Air Force and responsible for all of the Service's bomber fleets. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joseph Raatz)

A B-52 Stratofortress sits in the background as Eighth Air Force Airmen salute their new commander during the change of command ceremony at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Oct. 4 2016. U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Thomas Bussiere assumed command from Maj. Gen. Richard Clark, becoming the 53rd commander of The Mighty Eighth. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Stuart Bright)

A B-52 Stratofortress sits in the background as Eighth Air Force Airmen salute their new commander during the change of command ceremony at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Oct. 4 2016. U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Thomas Bussiere assumed command from Maj. Gen. Richard Clark, becoming the 53rd commander of The Mighty Eighth. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Stuart Bright)

U.S. Air Force Col. Patrick Matthews, far right, Eighth Air Force vice commander, leads a five-group formation during a salute to the new commander at a change of command ceremony at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Oct. 4, 2016. The five formations represented the five bomber wings under the organization. The Mighty Eighth encompasses all nuclear-capable and conventional bombers to include the B-1, B-52 and B-2. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Curtis Beach)

U.S. Air Force Col. Patrick Matthews, far right, Eighth Air Force vice commander, leads a five-group formation during a salute to the new commander at a change of command ceremony at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Oct. 4, 2016. The five formations represented the five bomber wings under the organization. The Mighty Eighth encompasses all nuclear-capable and conventional bombers to include the B-1, B-52 and B-2. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Curtis Beach)

From left, U.S. Navy Admiral Cecil Haney, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, passes the Joint Functional Component Command for Global Strike flag to U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Thomas Bussiere, the new JFCC-GS commander during a change of command ceremony at Barksdale AFB, La., Oct. 4, 2016. Bussiere is also the Task Force 204 commander, who oversees the Air Force nuclear bomber and reconnaissance activities in support of USSTRATCOM. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joseph Raatz)

From left, U.S. Navy Admiral Cecil Haney, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, passes the Joint Functional Component Command for Global Strike flag to U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Thomas Bussiere, the new JFCC-GS commander during a change of command ceremony at Barksdale AFB, La., Oct. 4, 2016. Bussiere is also the Task Force 204 commander, who oversees the Air Force nuclear bomber and reconnaissance activities in support of USSTRATCOM. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joseph Raatz)

U.S. Navy Admiral Cecil Haney salutes an audience of bomber Airmen during the Joint Functional Component Command for Global Strike and Task Force 204 change of command ceremony at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Oct. 4, 2016. The JFCC-GS and TF204 commander roles are duties held by the Eighth Air Force commander, who is responsible for all of the Air Force's bombers. U.S. Maj. Gen. Thomas Bussiere assumed command from Maj. Gen. Richard Clark. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joseph Raatz)

U.S. Navy Admiral Cecil Haney salutes an audience of bomber Airmen during the Joint Functional Component Command for Global Strike and Task Force 204 change of command ceremony at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Oct. 4, 2016. The JFCC-GS and TF204 commander roles are duties held by the Eighth Air Force commander, who is responsible for all of the Air Force's bombers. U.S. Maj. Gen. Thomas Bussiere assumed command from Maj. Gen. Richard Clark. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joseph Raatz)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Thomas Bussiere delivers his acceptance speech to a group of local and state civic leaders and bomber Airmen during the Eighth Air Force change of command ceremony at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Oct. 4, 2016. As the Eighth Air Force commander, Bussiere is responsible for more than 20,000 Airmen and all of the Service's nuclear-capable and conventional bombers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Curtis Beach)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Thomas Bussiere delivers his acceptance speech to a group of local and state civic leaders and bomber Airmen during the Eighth Air Force change of command ceremony at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Oct. 4, 2016. As the Eighth Air Force commander, Bussiere is responsible for more than 20,000 Airmen and all of the Service's nuclear-capable and conventional bombers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Curtis Beach)

From left, U.S. Air Force Gen. Robin Rand, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, officiates the Eighth Air Force change of command ceremony at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Oct. 4. Maj. Gen. Thomas Bussiere, far right, took command from Maj. Gen. Richard Clark, second from right, to oversee the Air Force's B-1, B-2 and B-52 bomber fleets. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Curtis Beach)

From left, U.S. Air Force Gen. Robin Rand, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, officiates the Eighth Air Force change of command ceremony at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Oct. 4. Maj. Gen. Thomas Bussiere, far right, took command from Maj. Gen. Richard Clark, second from right, to oversee the Air Force's B-1, B-2 and B-52 bomber fleets. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Curtis Beach)

Bomber Airmen prepare for the beginning of a change of command ceremony at the weapons load trainer at Barksdale AFB, La., Oct. 4, where U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. became the 53rd commander of the Eighth Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Curtis Beach)

Bomber Airmen prepare for the beginning of a change of command ceremony at the weapons load trainer at Barksdale AFB, La., Oct. 4, where U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. became the 53rd commander of the Eighth Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Curtis Beach)

An Eighth Air Force Airman unveils the new commander's name on a B-52 at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., during a change of command ceremony Oct. 4, 2016. U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Thomas Bussiere assumed command as the 53rd commander of The Mighty Eighth. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Stuart Bright)
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An Eighth Air Force Airman unveils the new commander's name on a B-52 at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., during a change of command ceremony Oct. 4, 2016. U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Thomas Bussiere assumed command as the 53rd commander of The Mighty Eighth. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Stuart Bright)

Masses of bomber Airmen gather at the weapons load trainer at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., for the Eighth Air Force change of command ceremony Oct. 4, 2016. Bomber Airmen include aircrews and support personnel for the B-1 Lancer, B-2 Spirit and B-52 Stratofortress (pictured above). (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Stuart Bright)
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Masses of bomber Airmen gather at the weapons load trainer at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., for the Eighth Air Force change of command ceremony Oct. 4, 2016. Bomber Airmen include aircrews and support personnel for the B-1 Lancer, B-2 Spirit and B-52 Stratofortress (pictured above). (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Stuart Bright)

Honor Guard members participate in the Eighth Air Force change of command ceremony at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Oct. 4, 2016. U.S. Maj. Gen. Richard Clark relinquished command to Maj. Gen. Thomas Bussiere before departing base to assume command of Third Air Force in Germany. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Stuart Bright)
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Honor Guard members participate in the Eighth Air Force change of command ceremony at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Oct. 4, 2016. U.S. Maj. Gen. Richard Clark relinquished command to Maj. Gen. Thomas Bussiere before departing base to assume command of Third Air Force in Germany. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Stuart Bright)

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.”

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