Born in Pryor, Oklahoma, Nov. 12, 1893 Adm. Joseph James Clark, or “Jocko” as he preferred to be called, was the son of Cherokee Indian William A. Clark and Lillie Berry Clark. He first attended the Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College before going on to attend and graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy, class of 1918. He was the first Native American graduate of the Naval Academy. During World War I, he served at sea and was engaged in convoying troops across the Atlantic. After the war he remained at sea, serving on two different destroyers and later taking command of the destroyer Brooks (DD-232). In 1925, he became a designated Naval Aviator and served with aircraft squadrons, later commanding Fighting Squadron 2-B of USS Lexington (CV 2), eventually going on to become the Air Officer of that carrier. After various rotations through other commands, he returned to the United States in 1945, and in 1952 was designated Commander, 1st Fleet in the rank of vice admiral. In 1953, he was transferred to the Retired List of the U.S. Navy and was advanced to admiral on the basis of combat citations.
During the ceremony, Vice Adm. Jeff Trussler, a Cherokee Nation citizen who currently serves as the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Warfare (N2N6) and as the Director of Naval Intelligence, presented a naval cruise book that once belonged to Adm. Clark to Kimberly Teehee, the Cherokee Nation Delegate-designate to Congress, who accepted the cruise book on behalf of the Cherokee Nation.
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