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Joseph James Clark was born in present Pryor, Oklahoma, on November 12, 1893. His father was a Cherokee named William A. Clark and his mother was Mary Poly Ward. He attended Willie Halsell College in Vinita, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma A&M College (now Oklahoma State University) in Stillwater. In 1913 Clark received an appointment to the United States Naval Academy. While a midshipman he was nicknamed "Jocko." He became the academy's first American Indian graduate and was commissioned as an ensign in 1917.

During World War I Clark performed convoy duty in the Atlantic before becoming a destroyer commander. In 1925 he graduated from Naval Flight School in Pensacola, Florida. He became a naval air specialist and was instrumental in the development of offensive naval air power. He commanded the aircraft carriers USS Yorktown (CV-10) and USS Hornet (CV-12) during World War II. He was promoted to rear admiral in January 1944.

During the Korean War Clark was the commander of the Seventh Fleet. His military awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Navy Cross, Silver Star, and the Legion of Merit. Clark's career lasted more than forty years during which he rose to the rank of admiral. After his retirement from the navy in 1953, he lived in New York City and was chair of a construction and investment corporation.

Clark was made honorary chief of both the Sioux and Cherokee nations. He was also honored by the National Aeronautic Association with the Elder Statesman of Aviation Award in 1969. Clark died on July 13, 1971, at the Naval Hospital in St. Albans, New York. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. In honor of Admiral Clark, the navy named a guided missile frigate the USS Clark (FFG-11) in 1980.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: "Adm. 'Jocko' Joseph James Clark," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City. Joseph James Clark, with Clark G. Reynolds, Carrier Admiral (New York: David McKay Co., 1967). Samuel Eliot Morrison, The Two-Ocean War: A Short History of the United States Navy in the Second World War (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1963). Stanley E. Smith, The United States Navy in World War II: The One-Volume History, From Pearl Harbor to Tokyo Bay (New York: William Morrow and Co., 1966).

James D. Childers

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