Texas native takes command of the Mighty Eighth Air Force

8th Air Force welcomes its new commander
Maj. Gen. Thomas Bussiere gives his final salute as commander of the Eighth Air Force. (Source: KSLA News 12)
Maj. Gen. Thomas Bussiere gives his final salute as commander of the Eighth Air Force. (Source: KSLA News 12)

BARKSDALE AFB, LA (KSLA) - The Eighth Air Force is under new command.

Maj. Gen. James Dawkins Jr. assumed command Monday morning from Maj. Gen. Thomas Bussiere.

"I couldn't be happier with such a historic unit to be taking over," Dawkins said. "It's steeped in history and heritage starting in World War II.

"Many men and women have sacrificed their lives at the beginning of Eighth Air Force to basically establish and blaze the trail for what the Air Force is today."

Dawkins is the 54th  person to lead the Mighty Eighth in its 75-year history.

As commander, Dawkins now is responsible for our country's B-1, B-2 and B-52 bomber fleets.

This also is the first time that Dawkins, a Texas native, will call Louisiana home.

"We've not been stationed at Barksdale before, visited many times," he said.

"But we are super excited to be down here in Shreveport, in the Bossier area and looking forward to getting to know the community leaders and the community. And we're just going to immerse ourselves in it and, again, we're very happy to be down here."

Dawkins comes to Barksdale from his assignment at the Pentagon in Arlington, VA, where he served as deputy director for nuclear, homeland defense and current operations.

"It takes a strong community and military relationship to ensure that we are able to defend the nation," Dawkins said.

"For the men and women of the Eighth Air Force and Global Strike Operation Center, as well as the men and women here at Barksdale proper, I just ask them to continue doing the great work that they're doing, being ready at a moment's notice to defend our nation."

Bussiere now will head to Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson in Alaska, where he will serve as commander of the 11th Air Force, Alaskan NORAD Region, and Alaskan Command.

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