On January 2, 1942 the Eighth Air Force was activated at the Savannah Air Base, in Georgia. On May 12, the first contingent of USAAF personnel arrived in England to join the Eighth Air Force. Regular combat operations by the VIII Bomber Command began on Aug 17, 1942, when the 97th Bombardment Group flew 12 B-17Es on the first VIII Bomber Command heavy bomber mission of the war from RAF Polebrook, attacking the Rouen-Sotteville marshalling yards in France.
Following the end of the war in Europe Eighth Air Force headquarters was reassigned to Sakugawa (Kadena Airfield), Okinawa, on July 16, 1945, being assigned to the United States Strategic Air Forces in the Pacific, with a mission to organize and train new bomber groups for combat against Japan.
During the Cold War, Eighth Air Force was one of three Numbered Air Forces of the United States Air Force Strategic Air Command (SAC), commanding USAF strategic bombers and missiles on a global scale. It engaged in combat operations during the Vietnam War, as well as Operation Desert Storm.
With the inactivation of SAC and the realignment of USAF forces after the Cold War, Eighth Air Force became part of Air Combat Command in 1992. Under Air Force Global Strike Command since Feb. 1, 2010, Eighth Air Force controls strategic bomber assets throughout the United States and overseas locations.