Father of U.S. Air Force: Ira Eaker (1896-1987)
This Southeastern State of Durant graduate and World War I veteran helped found and build the United States Air Force. A daring test pilot, he flew the first cross-country flight on instruments. He built the “Mighty Eighth” Army Air Force that brought the fearsome German Luftwaffe to its knees and played a central role in winning World War II. Elite air commanders eventually “demoted” him to command of Allied air forces in the Mediterranean, not least because he consistently opposed their ruthless disregard for civilian life in their strategic bombing plans. “We should never allow the history of this war to convict us of throwing the strategic bomber at the man in the street,” he bravely declared to them.
EakerH dramatically demonstrated his great personal courage and willingness to lead rather than just order young men into mortal combat. Nearing fifty years of age, he commanded a bomber in the first American raid on Nazi-occupied France, flew additional raids over Germany itself, and piloted a P-51 Mustang fighter plane in support of the Allied invasion of southern France. As intelligent as he was brave, he wrote a nationally-syndicated newspaper column and co-authored three books with his friend and wartime commander, Gen. Henry H. “Hap” Arnold.
The above article is a bonus to the fascinating historical content found within our book
Oklahomans Vol 2 :
Statehood - 2020s
which can be purchased HERE.
View the inspiring 2-minute preview video HERE.