Friday, July 27, 2012

"Those who wore  Jardur"

Lt. General Ira G. Eaker, AAF Deputy Commander and Chief of Air Staff.

Promoted to brigadier general in January 1942, he was assigned to organize the VIII Bomber Command (which became the 8th Air Force) in England and to understudy the Britsh
system of bomber operations. Then, in December 1942, he assumed command of the Eighth Air Force. In a speech he gave to the English that won him favorable publicity, he said, “We won’t do much talking until we’ve done more fighting. After we’ve gone, we hope you’ll be glad we came.”

Much of Eaker's initial staff, including Captain Frederick W. Castle, Captain Beirne Lay, Jr. and Lieutenant Harris Hull, was composed of former civilians rather than career military officers, and the group became known as "Eaker's Amateurs." Eaker's position as commander of the Eighth Air Force led to his becoming the model for the fictional Major General Pat Pritchard in the 1949 movie "Twelve O'Clock High"

Throughout the war, Eaker was an advocate for daylight "precision" bombing of military and industrial targets in German-occupied territory and ultimately Germany—of striking at the enemy's ability to wage war while minimizing civilian casualties. The British considered daylight bombing too risky and wanted the Americans to join them in night raids that would target wider areas, but Eaker persuaded a skeptical Winston Churchill that the American and British approaches complemented each other in a one-page memo that concluded, "If the RAF continues night bombing and we bomb by day, we shall bomb them round the clock and the devil shall get no rest." He personally participated in the first US B-17 Flying Fortress bomber strike against German occupation forces in France, bombing Rouen on August 17, 1942.

Eaker was promoted to Lt. General in September 1943. However, as American bomber losses mounted from German defensive fighter aircraft attacks on deep penetration missions beyond the range of available fighter cover, Eaker may have lost some of the confidence of USAAF Commanding General Harry Arnold. When General Dwight D.Eisenhower
was named Supreme Allied Commanderin December 1943, he proposed to use his existing team of subordinate commanders, including Lieutenant General Jimmy Doolittle,
 in key positions. Doolittle was named Eighth Air Force Commander, and Arnold concurred with the change.

Eaker was reassigned as Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean Allied Air Forces, having under his command the 12th and 15th Air Forces and the British
Desert and Balkan Air Forces. He did not approve of the plan to bomb Monte Cassino
 in February 1944, considering it a dubious military target, but ultimately "signed off" and gave in to pressure from ground commanders. Historians of the era now generally believe Eaker's skepticism was correct and that the ancient abbey at Monte Cassino could have been preserved without jeopardizing the allied advance through Italy.

On April 30, 1945, General Eaker was named deputy commander of the Army Air Forces and Chief of Air Staff. He retired August 31, 1947, and was promoted to Lt. General in the newly established United States Air Force on the retired list June 29, 1948.

In 1946, the Jardur Aviation Company provided General Eaker with a 995-G (Gold) Jardur Bezelmeter for the "Aviation Men of the Year".

  • Air Force Distinguished Service Medal
  • Army Distinguished Service Medal
  • Navy Distinguished Service Medal
  • Silver Star
  • Legion of Merit
  • Distinguished Flying Cross (2)
  • Air Medal
Was also Vice President of Hughes Aircraft

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