The youngest one of the whole bunch hasn’t been a cadet for more than four decades. But every one of the men attending this year’s Oklahoma Military Academy reunion carries his own indelible memories of what it meant to be a military-school student at the institution popularly known as the West Point of the Southwest, which sat proudly on a hill overlooking the city of Claremore from 1919 through early 1971.
On Friday and Saturday, June 8-9, scores of former cadets, many bringing along family members, will gather on the campus of Rogers State University, OMA’s successor, to swap reminiscences and participate in a variety of activities, all echoing with the lasting presence of the academy, and the lives of the men it produced.
“We proudly recognize OMA as our predecessor institution, and our students, faculty and staff strive each day to honor the legacy that was built here,” says RSU president Dr. Larry Rice. “We’re always thrilled to host the OMA reunion. It’s simply another way we have of recognizing the school’s legacy and thanking its alumni, who have contributed to Rogers State in so many ways.”
“As we reunite on `the Hill’ again this year, I see the rich history and tradition of OMA preserved and strengthened by the bright future of RSU – a fast-growing, high-quality regional university,” adds OMA Alumni Association president William Ramsay, class of ’61. “As RSU has embraced the heritage of OMA, our Alumni Association as embraced the mission of RSU.”
Except for the Friday morning Alumni Golf Classic, which takes place at Claremore’s Heritage Hills Golf Course, and a women’s lunch at the Pink House, all of the reunion events are scheduled for the RSU campus. These include, on Friday, a ladies’ tea at 2 p.m., hosted by Rogers State’s first lady, Peggy Rice, at the President’s Residence; pool and ping-pong tournaments from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the RSU Centennial Center’s Student Recreation Room; and the 5:30 p.m. reception in the Centennial Center.
On Saturday, the Morning Formation and OMA Killed in Action Memorial Ceremony begins at 9 a.m. at the OMA KIA Memorial, just outside Meyer Hall. It’s followed by the 10:30 a.m. Distinguished Alumni and Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in the Will Rogers Auditorium, the noon Alumni Luncheon in the Centennial Center Ballroom; an ice-cream social and OMA Museum tour from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m., and the reception, dinner, and dance beginning at 6 p.m. in the Centennial Center Ballroom, featuring music by the group Good Company.
Joe Daniel, class of ’69, and Larry Lantow, class of ’38, are being honored as Distinguished Alumni this year. Daniel retired from active duty as a colonel in 2008 and currently serves as the Secretary of Defense’s director of operations for the civilian expeditionary workforce. Lantow earned a Bronze Star as a paratrooper in the Battle of the Bulge, going on to a successful career in the lumber business.
The OMA Hall of Fame inductee for 2012 is Randy Vierling, class of ’63, a former pilot and instructor who conceived the idea of the OMA Killed in Action monument and saw it to fruition.
In addition to those three honorees, Dr. Richard Mosier will be presented with the Lt. General William E. Potts Award for his leadership and foresight as the transitional college president between OMA and what is now Rogers State. Dr. Mosier was the first president of Claremore Junior College, the institution that replaced OMA on the Hill following the spring of 1971, when the academy graduated its final class.
The 2012 OMA Alumni Reunion adjutant is Major General Tim Malishenko, who served more than three decades in the Air Force and, later, became a corporate vice president at the Boeing Company. He is one of the 10 military generals who attended OMA.