Highest-Ranking OMA Graduate Named to Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame

Lt. Gen. William E. Potts, the highest ranking graduate of the Oklahoma Military Academy, is among nine veterans to be inducted into the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame on Nov. 11 in Oklahoma City.

The evening will begin at 6:30 p.m. with a reception followed by dinner and the induction ceremony at the Gaylord Center at Oklahoma Christian University.

The Oklahoma Military Academy (OMA) is the predecessor institution of Rogers State University.

Potts, who died in 2005, graduated from the OMA in 1941. He was named to the OMA Alumni Hall of Fame in 1984 and named an OMA Distinguished Alumnus in 1987.

Lt. Gen. Potts participated in 15 campaigns, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

He was a native of Heavener and attended OMA in Claremore from 1937 to 1941. He was named distinguished honor graduate by the school and the outstanding ROTC graduate in Oklahoma by the U.S. Reserve Officer’s Association.

Potts went to OMA during his last two years of high school and his first two years of college. Although he was 19 when he completed his military training, he was commissioned as a U.S. Army Second Lieutenant within six weeks of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

After a promotion by Gen. George Patton, he became the youngest field grade officer to lead a battalion in Europe.

He commanded an armored cavalry unit responsible for the East-West German border, the Fulda Gap, and the Frankfurt-Berlin autobahn.

He also served on the Army General Staff, the office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the office of the Secretary of Defense, in joint, combined and Allied staff positions and as the Army representative in the U.S. National Intelligence Community.

Seven countries, including France, the Republic of China, and the U. S. have honored him with a total of 51 decorations, including the Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star and Purple Heart. He is a member of the Military Intelligence Hall of Fame.

Potts held a bachelor of science degree in political science and international affairs from the University of Maryland. He also earned two master’s degrees, one in international affairs and another in management public administration from George Washington University.

He also studied at Oxford University in England and at Harvard University. He was a graduate of nine military service schools, including the National War College, and did doctoral work in philosophy from American University in Washington, D.C.

He established the Lt. General William E. Potts Endowment at RSU. In addition, he was primarily responsible for obtaining grant funds to build RSU Public Television and the station’s first broadcast tower, said Dr. Danette Boyle, RSU vice president for development.

Other inductees into the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame include the following, eight of whom are deceased:

Sgt. First Class D.C. Brewer was born in Avery and enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1943. Brewer served in four wars – World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the Dominican Republic. He died in 2007. Specialist Dennis W. Drullinger was born in Tulsa, where he currently lives. He served in Vietnam with the U.S. Army from 1966- 1968. He received the Silver Star. Brig.

Gen. George M. Donovan was born in Ardmore and served with Oklahoma’s 45th Infantry Division in World War II and the Korean War. He was awarded the Silver Star for his actions in Rome, Italy, and awarded a battlefield commission. He was captured by the German Army in 1944 and remained a captive in Poland until escaping in 1945.

Col. Richard “Rick” Rescorla was born in Hayle, Cornwall, England. His decorations include the Silver Star, Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, Purple Heart and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. On Sept. 11, 2001, he was the security director of Dean Witter, which had offices in the World Trade Center. He had trained employees on evacuating the buildings in the event of an emergency. That training is credited with his saving more than 2,700 employees that day. He was killed going back into the building to look for more employees.

Maj. Gen. Teddy Hollis Sanford was born in Pawnee and enlisted in the Army National Guard’s 45th Division in 1923. He participated in the invasion of Sicily, Italy, Normandy, the Ardennes and the crossing of the Elbe River into Germany. He died in 1992.

Commander Ernest Evans was born in Pawnee. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1931. During World War II, he commanded the Alden and later the U.S.S. Johnston in a battle against the Japanese off Samar in the Leyte Gulf on Oct. 25, 1944. He was killed in that battle and was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously.

Private First Class Albert Earnest Schwab was born in Washington, D.C., but his family moved to Tulsa, where he was raised. He entered the Marine Corps May 12, 1944. He earned his Medal of Honor on May 7, 1945, while fighting Japanese forces on Okinawa.

Lt. Col. Leon R. “Bob” Vance, a native of Enid, attended the University of Oklahoma and then was accepted into the U.S. Military Academy, where he graduated in 1939. He went into the Army Air Corps, which became the Army Air Forces during World War II. Vance, for whom Vance Air Force Base is named, was on his second mission on June 5, 1944, the day before the Normandy invasion, when he earned the Medal of Honor. Vance led his bomber group of B-24 Liberators in an attack of German positions on the coast of France and was injured. After surgery in England he was put on a plane for evacuation to the United States. The plane disappeared between Iceland and Newfoundland and never was found. The Army Air Corps base in Enid was later renamed Vance Air Force Base in his honor.

Also during the ceremony, Lt. Gen. Harry M. Wyatt III of Stillwater, former Oklahoma adjutant general and now director of the Air National Guard will be presented the Distinguished Service Award by the Oklahoma Military Heritage Foundation.

Tickets for the banquet and ceremony on Nov. 11 are $45. Information on reservations and tickets is available by calling (405) 425-5032.