BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. --
Maj. Gen. James Dawkins Jr. relinquished command of the nation’s bomber force to Maj. Gen. Mark Weatherington during a change of command ceremony at Barksdale AFB, La., today.
Although group size was limited and there were no traditional formations of Airmen -- all due to the current COVID-19 health crisis -- friends, family, local community leaders and Airmen across the bomber community paid tribute to Dawkins and welcomed the new commander.
The commander of Air Force Global Strike Command officiated the event.
“There’s a lot of good things in General Dawkins’ future, and I’m proud to have served with him,” said Gen. Timothy Ray, AFGSC commander. “In ‘Striker’ culture, we stand on the shoulders of giants.”
In his final moments as commander, Dawkins reflected upon his time within the historic “Mighty Eighth” unit.
“To the men and women of Eighth Air Force and the Joint-Global Strike Operations Center, it has been my distinct honor to serve as your commander,” said Dawkins. “You make long-range precision strike look easy, and yet no other nation can do what we do.”
With the passing of the Eighth Air Force flag, Weatherington officially became the 55th 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 as well as four E-4Bs.
“What a tremendous honor,” said Weatherington. “I look forward to collaborating and strengthening our communities and forces in the days to come.”
As the leader for U.S. bomber forces, Weatherington also assumed the role of commander for the Joint-Global Strike Operations Center, which plans and executes strategic deterrence and global strike operations for U.S. Strategic Command air components.
The roles and responsibilities as the leader of the Air Force’s bomber force are many, but Weatherington said he remains eager for the challenge and puts faith in his newfound team.
“To everyone at the Eighth Air Force and J-GSOC, thanks for your unwavering commitment to excellence,” said Weatherington. “You remain instrumental to our nation’s defense, and I am excited to tackle the challenges that lie ahead.”