Eaker, Ira Clarence (1896-1987) American general, commander of the U.S. Eighth Air Force, commander of the Mediterranean Allied Air Forces. When the United States entered the European war in 1942, it was Brigadier General Eaker who commanded the first American bomb­ ing effort against Western Europe. After 1944, he shifted to the air war in the Mediterranean. He was a major figure in the gradual movement of the Army Air Force to a separate U.S. Air Force, and later became a leading proponent of American airpower.