Ira Clarence Eaker was born April 13, 1896, in Field Creek, Llano County, Texas. In 1906, his parents, Young Yancy and Ladonia (Graham) Eaker, moved the family to the Eden area, where he and his brothers attended school. Eaker enlisted in the army on April 7, 1917, one day after the U.S. declared war on Germany. He was recruited into the army's early aviation program and continued his pilot training through the war, after which he commanded a squadron in the Philippines. There he helped devise an aircraft level instrument, which was further developed by the Air Corps Materiel Division.
In 1926-27, Eaker served as a pilot in the Pan American Goodwill Tour. He also conceived and tested innovative flight procedures. During the 1930s, he earned a journalism degree and graduated from the Army Command and General Staff School in Kansas. At the outbreak of World War II, Eaker was sent to England to organize and oversee the U.S. 8th Army Air Force Bomber Command, coordinating efforts with the Royal Air Force in round-the-clock bombing of Germany's war works. He sometimes accompanied his men, believing a commander should know what his troops face in combat. He commanded the 8th Army Air Force and later the Mediterranean Allied Air Forces. Near war's end, he served at the Pentagon as Deputy Commanding General of the Army Air Forces.
retired in 1947 and worked for Howard Hughes and then for Douglas Aircraft Company, from which he retired in 1961. He launched a newspaper column a few years later and involved himself in military commentary for the rest of his life. He returned here often for family and community events. The recipient of more than 50 awards and decorations, including knighthood in England and a U.S. Congressional Gold Medal as "Aviation Pioneer and Air Power Leader," he died August 6, 1987.