Pioneer Aviator / Creator of the 8th Air Force
There are no reluctant leaders. A real leader must really want the job.
Born in Field Creek, Texas in 1896, Ira Eaker served in the infantry before being selected for flight training at Kelly Field. In 1926, he participated in the Army’s Pan American Goodwill Flight, which took five Loening amphibians on a tour around Central and South America. Three years later he piloted the “Question Mark,” an Army C-2 which stayed aloft for six days using aerial refueling. During World War II, Eaker organized and commanded the Eighth Air Force in the strategic bombing of Germany. He became Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean Allied Air Forces in 1944, then Deputy Commander of Army Air Forces and Chief of Air Staff before retiring in 1947. In civilian life, he served as a Vice President at Hughes Aircraft and subsequently as a Vice President at Douglas Aircraft. Eaker co-authored three books on airpower and became a national security columnist for 35 newspapers. He was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 1978.