Oklahoma City, OK 73105
For Immediate Release: March 1, 2011
Chairman of the Oklahoma War Veterans Commission Admiral
Wesley V. Hull, Preservation Fund
President Charles Ford, Portrait Sponsor Sen. Cliff Branan, and
Artist Mike Wimmer
Admiral Hull and Sen. Cliff Branan unveil Admiral Clark's
portrait in the Senate Chamber.
Sen. Branan applauds the most recent addition to the State
Capitol art collection.
Artist Mike Wimmer discusses his work on Admiral Clark's
Admiral Wesley Hull, Chair of the Oklahoma War Veterans Commission,
discusses Admiral Clark's many military awards.
Senate dedicates portrait of Admiral J.J. “Jocko” Clark
Highest ranking Native American naval officer in U.S
The Senate dedicated a portrait Tuesday afternoon
of Oklahoma-native Admiral Joseph James “Jocko” Clark.
The portrait, commissioned by the Oklahoma State Senate Historical
Preservation Fund and sponsored by Sen. and Mrs. Cliff Branan, was
painted by world-renowned artist and Oklahoma City resident Mike
“Admiral Clark was an important Oklahoman deserving of honor
and remembrance at the Oklahoma State Capitol. Clark was the first
Native American to graduate from the United States Naval Academy
and had a very distinguished military career,” said Charles
Ford, president of the preservation fund.
Born near Chelsea in Indian Territory in 1893, Clark attended Willie
Halsell College in Vinita and Oklahoma A&M College (now Oklahoma
State University) in Stillwater. In 1913, he received an appointment
to and was the first Native American to graduate from the United
States Naval Academy.
During WWI, Clark was a destroyer commander. He graduated from the
Naval Flight School in Pensacola
in 1925. During WWII, he commanded the USS Suwanee (ACV-27) and
the USS Yorktown (CV-10).
Clark was promoted to Rear Admiral in January 1944 and commanded
the Task Force USS Hornet (CV-12) in the Battle of the Philippine
Sea. During the Korean Conflict, Clark was the commander of the
Seventh Fleet. He was famous or his self-proclaimed “Cherokee
Strikes,” where he concentrated his fleet’s efforts
on the destruction of enemy weapons and supplies behind enemy lines.
The Cherokee Strikes served as a much-needed morale-boost for American
“Not very often does an individual come along with such strength
of character, honor and dedication to his country. Admiral Clark
gave over 40 years of his life in service to the country he loved,”
said Sen. Branan. “My father served as a Naval Carrier Fighter
Pilot in the same theater in World War II as Admiral Clark. For
this reason, my family and I are so proud to sponsor this work to
ensure that his legacy and contributions to the freedoms, we so
often take for granted, are never forgotten.”
Sen. Cliff and Connell Branan reside in Oklahoma City with their
two children, Ford and Langley. In his third and last term of office
representing Senate District 40, Sen. Branan owns Branan Property
Company, which he started in 1995.
Artist Mike Wimmer noted that the oil painting took two weeks to
complete. He worked with the Navy to gather information about Clark’s
accomplishments and was provided with two photos to create his work.
“Certain pieces resonate with me more than others and this
was one of them. My father was in the Air Force and both my brothers
were in the Navy, so it was a great honor for me to paint Admiral
Clark’s portrait. Admiral Clark’s service impacted the
history of our country, touched thousands of lives, and served as
a role model for his fellow Native Americans and Oklahomans,”
said Wimmer. “Our veterans don’t always get the respect
and honor they deserve for the sacrifices they make for our country.
I hope my work is a fitting tribute to this incredible American
and Oklahoman. I’m proud to have had an opportunity to be
a part of this special project.”
Admiral Wesley V. Hull, Chairman of the Oklahoma War Veterans Commission
attended the ceremony and discussed Clark’s military awards,
which include the Distinguished Service Medal, Navy Cross, Silver
Star, and the Legion of Merit among others.
After his retirement from the Navy in 1953, Admiral Clark lived
in New York City and was chair of a construction and investment
corporation. He was made honorary chief of both the Sioux and Cherokee
nations. He was also honored in 1969 by the National Aeronautic
Association with the Elder Statesman of Aviation Award. He died
on July 13, 1971, at the Naval Hospital in St. Albans, New York
and laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery.
In honor of Admiral Clark, the Navy named a guided-missile frigate
the U.S.S. Clark (FFG-11) in 1980, a ship nicknamed the “Determined
For more information contact:
Sen. Branan: (405) 521-5543
Pam Hodges – firstname.lastname@example.org