BARKSDALE AFB, LA (KSLA) - Major General Thomas Bussiere has had his eyes on the sky since his 16th Birthday.
"My father took me for a ride in a open cockpit biplane and walked across the ramp and got a ride in a helicopter," recalled Maj. Gen. Thomas Bussiere, Commander of the 8th Air Force.
He walked away from that experience wanting to fly helicopters.
"I actually went to college intending to fly helicopters in the Army, and the Army didn't think that was a good idea, so I went to the Air Force and the Air Force talked me into flying fixed wing airplanes."
With more than 3,300 flying hours, Bussiere has had the unique opportunity to fly trainers, fighters and bombers.
"I did trainers for 4 1/2 years which I went to pilot training and stayed at pilot training and taught other folks in pilot training for 41/2 years. It was my first assignment in the Air Force, and then I went and flew F-15s for six years and did air-to-air fighters, and then I went to the B-2 program from F-15s and did stealth bombers for just shy of 20."
Bussiere continued, "I joined the Air Force initially just to fly jets and my long-term vision was to stay in the Air Force for 20 years, retire, go to my hometown and be a high school teacher."
Now 32 years later, he finds himself on the final leg of his command of one of the most historic and storied numbered Air Force.
"It's so steeped in history and the airmen that serving it are so proud of it."
Bussiere has shared his military journey with his high school sweetheart and wife of 31 years Barbara, and their four kids.
He credits his initial interest in the military to his father, an Air Force Korean War Veteran.
"He tells me the story he was too short to be able to fly in the Air Force he was half an inch too short to fly."
As the major general awaits his next assignment, he says he's committed to serving our country as long as he is needed.
"I'll stay as long as Air Force thinks they need me to stay."