Joseph J. Clark

Class of
Joseph J. Clark

Joseph J. Clark

“The Yorktown [ship] from the very beginning was right. If the people in her love her, then a ship becomes a living thing.”
Admiral Joseph Clark


Oklahoma’s genuine Cherokee cowboy and one of America’s greatest military leaders and champions of sea power, Admiral Joseph James “Jocko” Clark was born near Pryor in Indian Territory in the Cherokee Nation and grew up near Chelsea, Oklahoma. He was sent to Willie Halsell College in Vinita and then to Oklahoma A&M (now OKlahoma State University) in Stillwater. Clark graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1917 and received his Naval Aviator wings in 1925. He became one of the most renowned admirals of World War II, often referred to as “the Patton of the Pacific,” and the Korean Conflict. A guided-missile frigate, the USS Clark, was named in his honor and commissioned in 1980. During the Korean Conflict, he was an astute fleet commander and introduced close air support measures that became known as “Cherokee strikes.” He retired as a full admiral from the U.S. Navy in 1953 and was posthumously inducted into the Cherokee Hall of Fame in Tahlequah.

Fun fact

Full Admiral Joseph J. Clark was the first Native American to graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis and received the Navy Cross, Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, the Navy Commendation Medal and the Korean Order of Military Merit.

Oklahoma connections

Clark was born in Pryor, Indian Territory, in the Cherokee Nation.










Relevant Exhibits

Oklahoma Hall of Fame: Service Members

Oklahoma Hall of Fame: Service Members

This exhibit that features great miliatary leaders from Oklahoma.
No Frontiers Beyond Our Reach: Native American Changemakers

No Frontiers Beyond Our Reach: Native American Changemakers

This exhibit highlights eight different trailblazing Native Americans that left impactful legacies in the fields of history, education, space exploration, military, politics, and the arts.