Eaker, Ira Clarence, born 13-04-1896 Field Creek, Texas, the son of a tenant farmer. He attended Southeastern State Teachers College in Durant, Oklahoma, and then joined the United States Army in 1917.. He was appointed a second lieutenant of Infantry, Officer’s Reserve Corps and assigned to active duty with the 64th Infantry Regiment at Camp Bliss, El Paso, Texas. The 64th Infantry was assigned to the 14th Infantry Brigade on 20-12-1917, to be part of the of the 7th Infantry Division when it deployed to France.
In July 1919, he transferred to the Philippine Islands, where he served with the 2d Aero Squadron at Fort Mills until September 1919; with the 3d Aero Squadron at Camp Stotsenburg until September 1920, and as executive officer of the Department Air Office, Department and Assistant Department Air Officer, Philippine Department, and in command of the Philippine Air Depot at Manila until September 1921. Captain Ira Eaker with a Boeing P-12 Promoted to Brigadier General in January 1942, Eaker was assigned to organize the VIII Bomber Command , which became the Eighth Air Force, in England and to understudy the British system of bomber operations. The successes of Bomber Command were purchased at terrible cost. Of every 100 airmen who joined Bomber Command, 45 were killed, 6 were seriously wounded, 8 became Prisoners of War, and only 41 escaped unscathed, at least physically. Of the 120.000 who served, 55.573 were killed including over 10.000 Canadians. Of those who were flying at the beginning of the war, only ten percent survived. It is a loss rate comparable only to the worst slaughter of the First World War trenches. Only the Nazi U-Boat force suffered a higher casualty rate. Then, in December 1942,Eaker assumed command of the Eighth Air Force. Much of Eaker’s initial staff, including Captain Frederick Walke Castle, later Brigade General of the Air Force, (see Castle)
was composed of former civilians rather than career military officers, and the group became known as “Eaker’s Amateurs.” 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. He personally participated in the first US B-17 Flying Fortress bomber strike against German occupation forces in France, bombing Rouen on 17-08-1942. Eaker was promoted to Lieutenant 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 Henry “Happy” Arnold
When General Dwight D. Eisenhower was named Supreme Allied Commander in December 1943, he proposed to use his existing team of subordinate commanders, including Lieutenant General Jimmie Doolittle in key positions. Doolittle was named Eighth Air Force Commander, and Arnold concurred with the change. He did not approve of the plan to bomb Monte Cassino in February 1944
and 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.
Ira Eaker and Major General Carl Spaatz were two brilliant officers whose careers intertwined, from before the famous flight of the Question Mark in 1929 to the sending of the Eighth Air Force against Germany.
Eaker received his fourth-star, pinned by Air Force Chief of Staff General Charles A. Gabriel (left) and his wife Ruth (right), April 1, 1985.
Death and burial ground of Eaker, Ira Clarence.
He retired 31-08-1947 and died at the old age of 91 of heart failure, on 06-08-1987, in the Malcolm Grow Medical Center, Andrews Air Force Base, Camp Springs, Maryland. Eaker, here with Bomber Harris on the right
is buried with his wife Ruth, born Apperson, who died old age 87 on 13-12-1995, on the Arlington National Cemetery, in Section 30. In Section 30 also the Major General, Commander 116th and 29th Division, D-Day, Charles Canham, Deputy Chief Operation, Richard Edwards, Rear Admiral, Frank Akers , Admiral Robert Ghormley, Lieutenant General, Commanded the 5th Marine Division in the occupation of Japan, Thomas Bourke, Lieutenant General, Commander 2nd Armoured Division , Ted Brooks, Major General, Chief Signal Officer, George Back, Lieutenant General, Commanded the 5th Marine Division in the occupation of Japan, Thomas Bourke, Infantry Major General, Commander 24th Infantry Division, Kenneth Cramer, Infantry Major General, Commander 9th Infantry Division, Louis Craig, Navy Admiral, Okinawa Campain, Louis Denfeld, Secretary of the Navy in 1944, James Forrestal and General, Deputy Chief of Staff, Bomb on Hiroshima, Thomas Handy.