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6 Things You Didn’t Know about the USS Yorktown’s First Captain

Catherine Turner Nov 10, 2022

Admiral Joseph James “Jocko” Clark served as the revered captain of the USS Yorktown CV-10. In honor of his birthday on November 12 and Native American Heritage Month, we’ve put together some unique facts!

He was Native American

Clark was born in 1893 in what was then Pryor Creek, Cherokee Nation. Today we’d place Pryor roughly near Chelsea, Oklahoma.

He made history at the U.S. Naval Academy

In 1917, Clark graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy as the first Native American graduate. During this time, he also received the nickname “Jocko.”

He served on both aircraft carriers named the USS Yorktown

Before the attack on Pearl Harbor, Clark served as the executive officer on the USS Yorktown (CV-5). After the Japanese sunk the air craft carrier in the Battle of Midway, he captained the USS Suwanee. In April 1943, he took command of USS Yorktown at her commission.

He became notorious in WWII and the Korean War

Following his time as captain of the USS Yorktown, he was promoted to admiral and became a Task Force Commander. He earned the title “The Patton of the Pacific” for his daring skill and leadership in combat. During the Korean war, he developed specialized air attacks called “Cherokee Strikes.”

He had a ship named after him

The Navy named the USS Clark, a guided missile frigate, after Admiral Clark in 1980. It was known as the “Determined Warrior.”

He was awarded multiple honors during and after his lifetime

Clark retired as a full admiral in 1953. The array of military honors awarded him during his military career included the Distinguished Service Medal, Navy Cross, Silver Star, and the Legion of Merit. He was made an honorary chief of the Sioux and Cherokee tribes. Posthumously, he was inducted into the Cherokee Hall of Fame in Tahlequah.

Want to learn more about him? Check out the article links below!


Joseph James Clark: Native Hero | VA News

Admiral Joseph James “Jocko” Clark | Oklahoma Honors Campaigns

Admiral Jocko Clark | Oklahoma Senate

Clark, Joseph J. | 1952 – Oklahoma Hall of Fame


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One thought on “6 Things You Didn’t Know about the USS Yorktown’s First Captain

  1. Josh T. says:

    Very informative!

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