By Justin Oakes, 8th Air Force/J-GSOC Public Affairs
/ Published June 12, 2020
Gen. Timothy Ray, left, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, Maj. Gen. Mark Weatherington, center, incoming 8th Air Force and Joint-Global Strike Operations Center commander, and Maj. Gen. James Dawkins Jr., outgoing 8th Air Force and J-GSOC commander, stand at a change of command ceremony at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., June 12, 2020. A change of command is a military tradition that represents a formal transfer of authority and responsibility for a unit from one commanding or flag officer to another. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob B. Wrightsman)
Maj. Gen. Mark Weatherington, right, incoming 8th Air Force and Joint-Global Strike Operations Center commander, receives the guidon from Gen. Timothy Ray, Air Force Global Strike Command commander, during a change of command ceremony at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., June 12, 2020. The passing of a squadron’s guidon symbolizes a transfer of command. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob B. Wrightsman)
Maj. Gen. Mark Weatherington, incoming 8th Air Force and Joint-Global Strike Operations Center commander, and his family stand outside of the 8th Air Force commander's B-52H Stratofortress at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., June 12, 2020. Weatherington was introduced to his aircraft after he assumed command of the 8th Air Force and J-GSOC. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob B. Wrightsman)
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.”