May 11, 2007

OMA Alumni Association Announces Recipients of Hall of Fame and Distinguished Alumni Awards

The Oklahoma Military Academy Alumni Association has announced the recipients of its Hall of Fame and Distinguished Alumni Awards for 2007.

The recipients will be honored at the annual Oklahoma Military Academy Reunion June 1-2 at Rogers State University in Claremore.

The Hall of Fame and Distinguished Alumni Awards represent the highest honors that can be bestowed upon an alumnus of the Oklahoma Military Academy. Currently, more than 1,200 alumni remain active with the OMA Alumni Association.

This year, nearly 250 OMA alumni, spouses and guests will return to RSU’s “College Hill” to attend a variety of reunion activities including the Hall of Fame and Distinguished Alumni Awards Ceremony on June 2.

Inducted into the OMA Hall of Fame will be Stephen Beals (killed in action) and Jack Harris, who lives in Kansas, Okla. Named as Distinguished Alumni will be Warnock Harwell of Catoosa, Okla., Mack Palmer of Fairland, Okla., Walter Price of Stillwater, Okla., and Stewart Stover of Dyson, La.

“We are pleased to present the Hall of Fame and Distinguished Alumni Awards to these men who have brought honor to the Oklahoma Military Academy through their many years of dedicated service to their communities and country,” said Dr. Danette Boyle, vice president for development at RSU.

OMA reunion events will include a golf tournament and opening reception on Friday, June 1. A cadet memorial service, Hall of Fame and Distinguished Alumni awards ceremony, alumni luncheon and dinner and dance are scheduled for Saturday, June 2, in Bushyhead Fieldhouse on the RSU campus in Claremore.

Following is more information about the honorees.

1st Lieutenant Stephen Beals, Hall of Fame
Beals graduated from OMA High School in 1960 and OMA Junior College two years later. He went on to earn a degree from Northwestern University and joined the Army Reserve. He began a tour of duty in Vietnam on June 4, 1968. As a Medivac pilot with the 15th Battalion of the 1st Cavalry, Beals flew many rescue missions to pick up wounded soldiers. On November 26, he was called out to a “hot spot” to pick up wounded accompanied by a Cobra gunship. His unarmed Huey helicopter was brought down by hostile fire near Tay Ninh, South Vietnam, killing Beals and his entire crew. Classmates remember Beals as a good athlete and a true hero. He is the recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star Medal, two Air Medals, Purple Heart, National Defense Service Medal, and Vietnam Service Medal.

Jack Harris, Hall of Fame
Harris graduated from OMA (junior college) in 1955. Among the honors accorded him at OMA was Outstanding Company Commander. He graduated from the University of Tulsa in 1957 with a degree in accounting and business marketing. He entered the U.S. Army, attending Flight School and was later assigned to the Germany European Theater as Company Commander of the 2nd Recon Squadron, 14th Armored Calvary Regiment. He was selected for the Advanced Armored Training School in Fort Knox, Kentucky, where he served under Lt. Gen. William E. Potts and Brig. Gen. Judson F. Miller. He was promoted to Captain and selected for the Advance Armored Training School, later assigned to the Combat Development Experimental Command at Ft. Ord, California. Upon leaving the Army, Harris joined Texaco Oil Company where he was recognized as Outstanding Salesman. He subsequently became vice president of the First National Bank in Marlow, Okla. Later he became the owner of a Taste Freeze store in Claremore. Harris bought a Sonic Drive-in franchise that eventually numbered 23 stores. He sold his stores to start Harris Angus Ranch in Kansas, Okla., which specializes in raising purebred commercial cattle. He is a member and trustee of the Lowery Free Will Baptist Church, a director of the Bank of Siloam Springs and a current member of the OMA Alumni Board. Harris was appointed by Gov. Frank Keating and later, Gov. Brad Henry, as Chairman of the Delaware County Conservation Board. He was additionally recognized as one of 18 outstanding individuals promoting Oklahoma conservation. He and his wife Allie continue to operate a cattle ranch in Kansas, Okla.

Lt. Colonel Warnock Harwell (Ret.), Distinguished Alumnus
Harwell graduated from OMA in 1943. He was inducted into the U.S. Army (Cavalry) in the same year and attended Officers Candidate School graduating as a 2nd Lieutenant. Harwell was assigned to the Desert Warfare Training Center and later reassigned to the 112th Cavalry Regiment, joining the unit in New Guinea. He fought with the 112th in the Leyte and Luzon campaigns. In 1945, he volunteered to stay in Japan and was promoted to 1st Lieutenant. Additional reassignments included service with the 101st Airborne Division, and the 4th Armored Division in Occupied Germany. Subsequent promotions and assignments include promotion to Captain and assignment to the Pentagon; promotion to Major and assignment to security for atomic bomb testing in the Marshall Islands; assignment to the General Chiefs of Staff in Washington, D.C. and promotion to Lt. Colonel. Upon retirement from active military duty, Harwell worked for twenty years with the U.S. Civil Service for the United States Air Force preparing security guidance for and inspecting contractor facilities. Among his thirteen military honors and citations are the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Army Commendation Medal, Combat Infantry Badge and Philippine Presidential Unit Citation. The donation in 1946 by Harwell of a Samurai sword and a rifle with bayonet marked the beginning of the OMA Museum. Harwell and his late wife, Gloria, have four children (one deceased).

Mack Palmer, Distinguished Alumnus
Palmer graduated from OMA in 1952 as a Distinguished Student and Corps Commander. He earned both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma and later, a doctorate degree in mass communications from the University of Wisconsin.  In 1957, he joined the U.S. Army serving six months active and seven years in the Reserve. Palmer’s long and distinguished career in journalism began as editor of both the OMA Vedette and Guidon publications. He interned with the Tulsa Tribune, Okmulgee Daily Tribune and Norman Transcript which he later joined as a reporter and was promoted to assistant city editor. Following a short time with the OU public relations department, Palmer began the employee newspaper at Tulsa’s American Airlines Maintenance Center. He was promoted to editor of the company’s system-wide newspaper in 1964, commuting daily to New York City from Tulsa. The newspaper, Flagship News, received the top award in 1965 from the International Council of Industrial Editors. Upon leaving American Airlines, Palmer became Professor of Journalism at the University of Oklahoma, teaching for 29 years at Norman, the O.U. Center in Tulsa and several semesters at the University of Wisconsin. Among the many honors Palmer received during his career, was the OU Regents Award for superior teaching. He and his wife, Ann, have three children and three, soon to be four, grandchildren.

LTC (Ret) Walter Price, Distinguished Alumnus
Price attended OMA from 1942 to 1944 (high school '43 and one year of college). After enlisted service ('44-'46) he entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, graduating in 1950. Price's military career included combat service as a rifle company commander in Korea with the 2d Infantry Division and as a battalion commander in Vietnam with the 101st Airborne Division. Among his awards were the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Vietnam Gallantry Cross, Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Combat Infantry Badge with star, Senior Parachutist Wings, and Ranger Tab.  He taught military psychology and leadership at West Point, served on the ROTC staff at Oklahoma State University, graduated from the Army Command and General Staff College and received a master's degree from Columbia University. He retired from the Army as a lieutenant colonel and entered state government, serving in the Office of the Governor and on the State Board of Public Affairs. Additional career moves included banking, retail store operation and as Director of Downtown Stillwater Unlimited. He also served as a Stillwater City Commissioner. Price is a 32d Degree Mason, a member and past chapter and state president of the Military Officers Association of America, a member of the OMA Alumni Association, and has participated in several other civic and professional organizations. He and his wife Jane (Ezell) have four sons and five grandchildren.  

Stewart Stover, Distinguished Alumnus
Stover attended OMA from 1952 to 1956 where he was a member of the football, track and wrestling teams and president of his senior high school class. He attended Tishomingo Junior College and Northeast Louisiana State College on football scholarships, earning a bachelor’s degree in petroleum geology. As a professional athlete, he played linebacker for the Dallas Texans (later the Kansas City Chiefs) through the first Super Bowl in 1967. The same year, he played for the Canadian Football League’s Hamilton Tiger Cats helping them to win the Grey Cup Championship. Stover is the only professional player to date to play in a Super Bowl and Grey Cup in the same year. During the off-seasons he completed his master’s degree in micropaleontology and, upon retiring from professional football, went to work for Superior Oil Company. He later became an independent consulting geologist eventually forming his own company, Stover Oil and Gas, LLC. Stover’s numerous civic, professional and church activities include work with Lafayette Little League Football, president and board member of the Acadian Geological Library, Board of Directors of the Lafayette Petroleum Club, and active member of the St. Basil Catholic Church. He is additionally a member of the National Football League Association and the NFL Retired Players Association. Stover and his wife, Johnette, have four children and five grandchildren.

For more information on the annual OMA alumni reunion, call (918) 343-7773.