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The Naval History of Oklahoma

By Naval History and Heritage Command, Communication and Outreach Division

On September 17, 1907 the people of the Indian and Oklahoma Territories voted in favor of statehood. The vote was certified and delivered to President Theodore Roosevelt and on November 16, 1907, Roosevelt issued Presidential Proclamation 780 admitting Oklahoma as the forty-sixth state.

You might not associate a landlocked state like Oklahoma with the U.S. Navy, but the state actually does have its fair share of ties to Naval History. 25 ships have even been named for the state, its cities, places and people!

One well-known Navy hero, Ernest Evans, was born in Pawnee, Oklahoma in 1908. Half-Cherokee and one-quarter-Creek, Evans graduated from Central High School in Muskegee, Oklahoma and on 29 May 1926 enlisted in the US Navy. After a year’s service as an enlisted Sailor, he was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science, and commissioned as an Ensign on June 4, 1931.

Evans had an illustrious naval career, but ultimately died when USS Johnston was sunk during the Battle for Leyte Gulf in October 1944.

In addition to the Medal of Honor, the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart Medal and Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon, Commander Evans had the China Service Medal, American Defense Medal, Fleet Clasp, and was entitled to the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with six engagement stars, the World War II Victory Medal, and the Philippine Defense and Liberation Ribbons with one star.

Learn more about Oklahoma’s many ties to Naval History in the infographic below!