Information

Oklahoma City CL-91 - History


Oklahoma City
(CL-91; dp. 14,400; 1. 610'1"; b. 66'4"; dr. 24'10"; s. 31.6 k. cpl. 1,426;
a. 126", 12 5", 2840mm., 1020mm.;cl. Cleueland.)

Oklahoma City (CL-91) was laid down 8 December 1942 by the Cramp Shipbuilding Co., Philadelphia, Pa.; launched 20 February 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Anton H. Classen; commissioned 22 December 1944, Capt. C. B. Hunt in comruand.

Following shakedown, Oklahoma City transited the Panama Canal and reported to ComCruPac for duty, arriving Pearl Hsrbor 2 May 1945. She conducted local operations until 22 Msy when she sailed for Ulithi, thence to rendezvous 6 June with Carrier Task Group 38.1 for operations in support of the Okinawa campaign. For the rest of June and into July she screened 3d Fleet carriers during their intensified air operations against Japanese forces. On 18 July she formed a bombardment group with other cruisers and destroyers, then rejoined the carrier task group for continued action against the Japanese home islands. At the end of hostilities she continued to patrol off the coast of Japan and it was not until 10 September after seventy-two days of continuous steaming, that she final~y entered Tokyo Bay. Oklahoma City remained on occupation duty until relieved 30 January 1946 when she departed for the United States. She arrived at San Francisco 14 February where she remained until 15 August when she entered the Mare Island Navy Yard for inactivaticn. She was placed out of commission in reserve 30 June 1947 assigned to the San Francisco Group, U.S. Pacific Reserve Fleet.

On 7 March 1957, Oklahoma City arrived at the Bethlehem Steel Corp. Pacific Coast Yard, San Francisco, where conversion to a guided missile light cruiser commenced 21 May, her hull class)fication and number being changed two days later to CL~. Her conversion completed 31 August 1960 she was towed to Hunter's Point where she recommissioned 7 September, Capt. Ben W. Sarver in command.

During her shakedown training, Oklahoma City became the first combatant unit of the Pacific Fleet to fire a TALOS guided missile sueeessfully. Following shakedown, she partieipated in several major training exercises while serving as flagship for CruDiv 3 and CruDesFlot 9, then departed 1 December for a six month deployment in WestPae. She arrived in Yokosuka, Japan 20 December where six days later she became flagship for Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet. The ship participated in SEATO training operations, received two a~rards for operational excellence, and served as an ambassador of good will to several cities in the Far East. She then returned to Long Beach, California 12 June 1961 and spent the next several months conducting local training operations and upkeep work. On 14 December she entered the Long Beach Naval Shipyard for restricted availability followed by an extensive overhaul.

In early 1964, Oklahoma City began refresher training in Southern California waters to prepare for a lengthy deployment, then departed for Yokosuka where she arrived 7 July to assume her duties again as 7th Fleet flagship. Shortly thereafter, North Vietnamese gunboats attacked U.S. destroyers in the Tonkin Gulf and Oklahoma City quickly began a 25-day alert in the Gulf. Training exercises and operational visits to various ports in the Far East followed, then in June 1965 she began gunfire support missions off Vietnam. When the level of hostilities increased, she began to spend more and more time in the South China Sea and eventually participated in operations "Piranha," "Double Eagle," "Deckhouse IV," and "Hastings II". After serving as 7th Fleet flagship for two and one-half years, Oklahoma City returned to San Francisco Bay Naval Shipyard 15 December 1966 for overhaul. Following her yard period, she began refresher training in the Southern California operating area in July, 1967, and continued those exercises and intermittent ealls to West Coast ports until she deployed again to WestPac 7 November 1968. She arrived at Yokosuka 20 December and into August, 1969, was again contributing to the strength of the 7th Fleet by participating in the varied assignments its units are called on to perform.

Oklahoma City received two battle stars for service in World War II.


U.S.S. OKLAHOMA CITY

The USS OKLAHOMA CITY (CLG-5), a Galveston class guided missile cruiser, was commissioned on 22 DEC 1944 as CL-91. She battled the Japanese in 1945 and then served as part of the occupation force of Japan. The situation in the late 1940s no longer required "OK City" and she was placed in reserve in 1947. The late 1950s had USS OKLAHOMA CITY undergoing a extensive conversion to a guided missile cruiser. She was recommissioned as CLG-5 on 7 September 1960. OKLAHOMA CITY began a series of Western Pacific deployment, first at peace, then at war, supporting the effort in Vietnam. With the war ending in 1974, continued to return to the Western Pacific periodically until decommissioned in 1979. OKLAHOMA CITY then spent twenty years in the Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility in Suisun Bay, CA, until sunk in a Fleet exercise off of Guam in March 1999. USS OKLAHOMA CITY served her country, as CLG-5 for 19 years, 3 months and 8 days, until decommissioned on 15 DEC 1979.

The USS OKLAHOMA CITY (CLG-5) deployment history and significant events of her service career follow:


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As the Oklahoma state capital and the county seat of Oklahoma County, Oklahoma City is centrally located within the state and is a major crossroads served by Interstate Highways 35, 40, 44, 235, and 240. The future Oklahoma City lay within an area that was formerly part of the Creek and Seminole nations in Indian Territory. In the 1870s and 1880s Montford T. Johnson, a contemporary of Jesse Chisholm, operated a ranch at Council Grove, in present western Oklahoma City. Oklahoma City sprang into existence on April 22, 1889, when approximately fifty thousand participants of the Land Run of 1889 claimed town lots and quarter sections in the area known as the Unassigned Lands. On that date an estimated four to six thousand settlers came to Oklahoma Station (later Oklahoma City) to establish homes and businesses.

Prior to the land opening the Southern Kansas Railway (later the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway) built a line from the Kansas-Oklahoma border to Purcell, Indian Territory. At the North Canadian River a watering stop along that line, known as Oklahoma Station, was established in February 1887. A post office at Oklahoma Station opened on December 30, 1887. The post office was renamed Oklahoma on December 18, 1888, and finally, Oklahoma City on July 1, 1923. On April 19, 1889, three days prior to the land opening, Sidney Clarke, William L. Couch, and others formed the Seminole Town and Improvement Company in Topeka, Kansas. Two other townsite companies competed with the Seminole group in platting Oklahoma City. Consequently, accusations were made that some individuals were Sooners and lot jumpers and general confusion ensued.

From April 22, 1889, to May 2, 1890, the towns and communities in the Unassigned Lands existed under provisional government because the federal government had not foreseen the need to establish laws to govern the new territory. When the U.S. Congress passed the Organic Act on May 2, 1890, the laws of Nebraska applied to the newly formed Oklahoma Territory until local legislation could be passed. Oklahoma City was incorporated on July 15, 1890. William L. Couch served as the first provisional mayor of Oklahoma City and Charles F. Colcord as the first police chief. When Couch resigned on November 11, 1889, Sidney Clarke became acting mayor until an election could be held. Andrew J. Beale was elected mayor on November 27, 1889. In 1890 William J. Gault became the first nonprovisional mayor.

With the passage of the Organic Act seven counties were established. Oklahoma County was originally known as County Two, with Oklahoma City as the county seat, and Guthrie was designated as the territorial capital. Rivalry between Guthrie and Oklahoma City for the capital existed until June 11, 1910. By a majority vote of the people on that date, Oklahoma City was selected as the state capital, and the state seal was moved from Guthrie to Oklahoma City. William F. Harn and John J. Culbertson donated land for the capitol site. Ground-breaking for the capitol occurred on July 20, 1914, and the structure was completed on June 30, 1917. The Oklahoma State Capitol (listed in the National Register of Historic Places, NR 76001572) was built without a dome due to lack of funds as the United States entered World War I. However, on June 20, 2001, construction started on a dome, which was dedicated on November 16, 2002. In June 2002 The Guardian statue was placed atop the dome.

From 1889 to the 1910s city leaders and builders turned the railroad watering stop into a bustling commercial and transportation hub. Henry Overholser, a prominent early settler, had six prefabricated, two-story, wooden buildings transported to Oklahoma City in the early months of its development. He built the first opera house and constructed a palatial home, the Overholser House (NR 70000536), on the outskirts of town. Overholser and Charles G. "Gristmill" Jones, who established the first flour mill in Oklahoma Territory, organized the St. Louis and Oklahoma City Railroad in 1895. By 1898 that line connected Sapulpa and Oklahoma City.

When Oklahoma City's population more than doubled from 4,151 in 1890 to 10,037 in 1900, the need for housing escalated. To meet the demand John W. Shartel, Anton H. Classen, and others developed residential areas, which resulted in the first urban sprawl. Shartel opened the Florence Addition in 1898, and Classen organized the Highland Parked Addition (now Heritage Hills Historic and Architectural District, NR 79002006) in 1900. In 1902 Classen established the University and Marquette additions. That year Israel M. Putnam organized his real estate enterprise known as the Putnam Company and sold properties in Epworth View, Military Park, Putnam Park, Putnam Heights (now a Historic Preservation District, NR 82003693), Lakeside, and Lakeview Heights. In the 1910s and 1920s Gilbert A. Nichols constructed houses in present historic districts such as Crown Heights Historic District (NR 95001467), Gatewood West and East Historic Districts (NR 04000125 and 04000126), Capitol–Lincoln Terrace Historic District (NR 76001569), and Mesta Park. He is best remembered for the development of Nichols Hills, an exclusive residential area in northwest Oklahoma City.

In addition to Overholser's two-story buildings, other multistory structures included a three-story, brick and stone post office building dedicated on July 4, 1890. Construction of the five-story Oklahoma Publishing Company Building (NR 78002249) at 500 North Broadway Avenue began on January 17, 1909. By 1909 six brick and tile manufacturers operated to keep pace with the rapid construction of residences and office buildings. Charles Colcord built the twelve-story Colcord Building (NR 76001571) when completed in 1910, it was considered Oklahoma City's first skyscraper. Oilman William B. Skirvin had the Skirvin Hotel (NR 79002010) built at One Park Avenue in 1910–11. Solomon Layton designed the five-story Baum Building, which was modeled after the Doge's Palace in Venice, Italy, and constructed in 1909–10 at Robinson and Grand avenues.

Soon after the land opening settlers established subscription schools until taxes could be assessed to support public schools. After the land run Lyman H. and Martha Newton North opened a subscription school in a tent. Jennie (Mrs. Fred) Sutton established a school in the rear of a hardware store on First Street between Broadway and Robinson avenues. The first official year of public schools in Oklahoma Territory began on January 1, 1891. Oklahoma City received a $60,000 Carnegie grant for a public library which was constructed in 1899. The Draughon's Practical Business and Hill's Business colleges opened in 1903 and 1905, respectively. Construction of Mount St. Mary's Catholic Academy at 2801 South Shartel Avenue was completed in 1904. By 1909 Oklahoma City had ten public school buildings. In 1910 Central High School (NR 76001570) was completed at Northwest Eighth and Robinson streets. By 1930 the city had three high schools, six junior high schools, and fifty-one elementary schools, with a total enrollment of 38,593. The Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics, a two-year, residential public high school for academically gifted students, graduated its first class in 1992. At the turn of the twenty-first century several Oklahoma City institutions offered higher education: Oklahoma City University (NR 78002247), Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City Branch, and Oklahoma City Community College. Vocational-technical schools included Francis Tuttle Technology Center/Institute and Metro Technology Centers.

In addition to educational facilities, the settlers quickly established churches, many of which have historical significance and are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. For example, the First Methodist Church structure at 131 Northwest Fourth Street was completed in October 1889. Also in 1889 Catholics built St. Joseph's Cathedral (NR 78002253) at the southwest corner of Northwest Fourth Street and Harvey Avenue. Although the Christian congregation met the first Sunday after the land opening, they did not built the First Christian Church (NR 84003383) at 1104 North Robinson Avenue until 1910–11. Seventeen charter members organized the First Baptist Church on November 2, 1889. Their first church, erected in 1890, was razed by fire. Since 1912 the First Baptist Church has been located at Eleventh Street and Robinson Avenue. The Episcopalians first constructed a church circa 1893 at Northwest Second Street, between North Harvey and North Robinson avenues. They later moved to Northwest Fourth Street and Broadway Avenue, and finally to St. Paul's Cathedral at 127 Northwest Seventh Street (NR 77001096). On November 3, 1889, thirty-six charter members organized the First Presbyterian Church, which had several locations before moving to its present site at Northwest Twenty-fifth Street and Western Avenue in 1954. Jews met at various locations until the Temple B'Nai Israel at 50 Broadway Circle was dedicated in January 1908. By 1930 Oklahoma City had 114 houses of worship, and Robinson Avenue was known as "the Avenue of Churches."

Initially, the local economy was based on agriculture. Wheat, cotton, and cattle dominated the market. By 1894 farmers supported a corn mill, a grain elevator, a cotton gin, and several grain mills. The Oklahoma Canning Company operated between the months of July and October and was situated on Choctaw Avenue between South Robinson and South Broadway avenues. In 1899 an Oklahoma City Club promotion pamphlet boasted that five to ten thousand bales of cotton were marketed and seventy-five thousand bales were compressed at Oklahoma City. The brochure also stated that the city had thirty-six wholesale houses and twenty-six manufacturers. Around 1909 Colcord, Classen, and others enticed two meat-packing plants to build near the Oklahoma National Stockyards in southwest Oklahoma City.

Representative of some of Oklahoma City's early manufacturing firms were the Oklahoma Carriage Manufacturing Company (ca. 1894), Jackson Plow Manufacturing Company (ca. 1894), J. B. Klein Iron and Foundry Company (1909), Boardman Company (1910), Jay Kola (circa 1918), Macklanburg-Duncan Company (1920), and Fred Jones Manufacturing Company (1938). By 1921 fifty-two of the city's seventy-six automobile dealerships were situated along "Automobile Alley," located on North Broadway Avenue between Fourth and Thirteenth streets. Automobile Alley Historic District is listed in the National Register of Historic Places (NR 99000351). A General Motors Assembly Plant operated from 1979 to 2006. At the turn of the twenty-first century the top five employers in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area were the State of Oklahoma, Tinker Air Force Base, the U.S. Postal Service, the University of Oklahoma, and the Oklahoma City Public Schools. Other large employers included the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center, the City of Oklahoma City, Integris Baptist Medical Center, and the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

The 1920s witnessed further economic development. In 1921 the Traders Compress Company built a cotton compress and warehouse at the intersection of East Reno and Eastern avenues. The last bale of cotton was shipped from this location in November 1969, and the structure was razed in March 1970. On December 4, 1928, the Oklahoma City Number One discovery well (NR 77001095) was completed by the Indian Territory Illuminating Oil Company and the Foster Petroleum Company. On March 26, 1930, the Mary Sudik Number One came in. Both wells were situated southeast of the Oklahoma City limits. On May 27, 1930, the Hall-Briscoe Number One Holmes was completed within the city limits. By 1935 the Oklahoma City oil field had produced 409 million barrels of crude oil, and ninety-five oil industry companies employed twelve thousand. The Capitol sits above an oil pool. In 1941 the Capitol Site Number One (also known as Petunia Number One) was brought in, using directional drilling, on the south plaza of the main entrance.

The 1930s were marked by the Great Depression and the subsequent federal New Deal programs, such as the Works Progress Administration (WPA), the Public Works Administration (PWA), and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). As a consequence of the depression, unemployed, migratory persons established a migrant camp in Oklahoma City along the North Canadian River between Byers and Pennsylvania avenues. Local organizations furnished clothing, food, and supplies to the destitute before federal aid became available. Federal programs brought about the construction of the Municipal Auditorium and amphitheaters at several municipal parks. A public art gallery opened January 5, 1936, and the Oklahoma City Symphony Orchestra was initiated under the Federal Music Project of the WPA in 1937. The PWA provided funding for the construction of the Oklahoma City National Guard Armory, which was completed in 1938.

With the advent of World War II the Oklahoma City metropolitan area gained the Midwest City Douglas Aircraft Company Plant. The plant closed in 1945, and the building was designated as Building 3001 at Tinker Air Force Base. Following World War II the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Standardization Center moved from Houston, Texas, to form Will Rogers Field in Oklahoma City. When the Federation Aviation Agency (FAA) replaced the CAA in 1958, the installation became known as the FAA Aeronautical Center (now the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center).

Several Oklahoma-based retail businesses have had headquarters or outlets in Oklahoma City. Among them were Anthony Stores, T.G.&Y. Stores, Harold's Stores, and OTASCO. Food distributors have included William E. Davis and Sons and Fleming companies. Troy Smith started the Sonic fast-food chain in 1953 under the name of Top Hat Drive-In. In 1968 William H. Braum opened his first Braum's Ice Cream and Dairy Store in Oklahoma City. In addition, through the years the city has witnessed the development of ethnic business enclaves such as Second Street (Deep Deuce) and the Asian District.

Newspapers were Oklahoma City's earliest form of communication. Telephone, radio, and television soon followed. On May 9, 1889, Angelo C. Scott published the first newspaper in Oklahoma City, the Oklahoma City Times. The Daily Oklahoman, begun in 1903, continued to serve citizens as the Oklahoman at the turn of the twenty-first century. The Missouri-Kansas Telephone Company provided service in the 1890s, and by 1909 the Pioneer Telephone and Telegraph Company served the city. Oklahoma City residents heard their first radio program in 1921 and witnessed the first television broadcast on November 10, 1939. At the turn of the twenty-first century SBC Communications (formerly Southwestern Bell) and Cox Communications offered telephone and Internet services. The three major local television stations were KFOR (channel 4), KOCO (channel 5), and KWTV (channel 9). In addition to the Oklahoman, the Journal Record and various ethnic papers, such as the Black Chronicles, the Oklahoma Chinese Times, and El National, have served the public.

Several events in Oklahoma City gained national attention. The Urschel kidnapping occurred on July 22, 1933, when George "Machine Gun" Kelly and his accomplice Albert L. Bates abducted prominent Oklahoma City resident Charles F. Urschel and his guest Walter Jarrett. On July 5, 1982, the Penn Square Bank was declared insolvent, causing other banks across the nation to close and resulting in the revision of banking laws. In April 1995 the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was destroyed by an ammonium nitrate–fuel oil bomb, which killed 168 people and injured approximately 850.

The early railroads sustained communities until good roads could be built. The first railroad constructed through present Oklahoma City was the Southern Kansas Railway (later the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway) in 1887. Between 1890 and 1895 the Choctaw, Oklahoma and Gulf Railroad (later the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad) built a line that connected Oklahoma City to El Reno and McAlester. In 1898 the St. Louis and Oklahoma City Railroad (later the St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad, SL&SF) joined Sapulpa and Oklahoma City. Between 1902 and 1903 the Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma Railroad (later the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad) built a line between Oklahoma City and Agra in Lincoln County. That company also constructed a line from Coalgate to Oklahoma City in 1903–04. Between 1901 and 1902 the Oklahoma City and Western Railroad Company (later the SL&SF) built a line from Oklahoma City to Chickasha. By 1916 the interurban, operated by the Oklahoma Railway Company, radiated from Oklahoma City to Moore and Norman to the south, to Edmond and Guthrie to the north, and to El Reno to the west.

In 1916, one year after the Oklahoma City Model-T Ford assembly plant began operation, the number of automobiles outnumbered horses. Braniff International Airways had its start in Oklahoma City in 1928, and Central Airlines began operations in 1949. In the early 1940s three airlines (American, Braniff, and Continental) and ten bus lines served the city. At the turn of the twenty-first century commuters used the Lake Hefner Parkway, John Kilpatrick Turnpike, Broadway Extension, Northwest Expressway, and Centennial Expressway to reach their work destinations. Interstate Highways 35, 40, 44, 235, and 240 and U.S. Highways 62, 77, 270, and 277 provided access through the Oklahoma City metropolitan area. Will Rogers World Airport and Wiley Post Airport accommodated air travelers. Since June 1999 the Oklahoma Spirit Trolleys, part of Oklahoma City's mass transit system, have furnished shuttle service from the Interstate 40/Meridian Avenue hotel and restaurant district to downtown and Bricktown.

Oklahoma City has experienced continual population growth. At 1907 statehood the city had 32,452 citizens. The numbers almost doubled by 1910 with 64,205 reported and rose to 91,295 in 1920. In 1930 the census indicated 185,389 residents. The population climbed to 204,424 and 243,504 in 1940 and 1950, respectively. Numbers increased to 324,253 in 1960, 368,164 in 1970, 404,255 in 1980, and 444,719 in 1990. At the turn of the twenty-first century Oklahoma City had 506,132 residents, of whom 68.2 percent were white, 15.1 percent African American, 10 percent Hispanic, 3.4 percent Asian, and 3.3 percent American Indian. The U.S. Census of 2010 counted 579,999 Oklahoma City residents.

Oklahoma City offers numerous attractions such as the Oklahoma History Center, the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, the Oklahoma City National Memorial Center, the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Science Museum Oklahoma, the National Softball Hall of Fame, the Forty-fifth Infantry Division Museum, and the Oklahoma City Zoological Park. Bricktown in downtown Oklahoma City is the venue for a movie theater, restaurants, retail shops, and business offices. The Cox Convention Center, Chesapeake Energy Arena, and the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark provide locales for sporting and other recreational events. At the turn of the twenty-first century Oklahoma City had a council-manager form of city government.

Bibliography

Odie B. Faulk, Laura E. Faulk, and Bob L. Blackburn, Oklahoma City: A Centennial Portrait (Northridge, Calif.: Windsor Publications, 1988).

"Oklahoma City," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City.

Angelo C. Scott, The Story of Oklahoma City (Oklahoma City, Okla.: Times-Journal Publishing Co., 1939).

Roy P. Stewart, Born Grown: An Oklahoma City History (Oklahoma City, Okla.: Fidelity Bank, 1974).

Susan Wallace and Tamara J. Hermen, Oklahoma City: A Better Living, A Better Life (Montgomery, Ala.: Community Communications, 1997).

Pendleton Woods, "Oklahoma City Metropolitan Area," in Cities of Oklahoma, ed. John W. Morris (Oklahoma City: Oklahoma Historical Society, 1979).

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The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Linda D. Wilson, &ldquoOklahoma City,&rdquo The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry.php?entry=OK025.

© Oklahoma Historical Society.


Ship's History

This history has been compiled from the Navy's official ship's histories for the USS Oklahoma City plus a few other reliable sources. If you want a more detailed day-to-day history, or if you want to read the official histories, visit the Official Ship's History page.

The USS Oklahoma City CL-91 was the 20th of 27 Cleveland class light cruisers constructed during World War II. Construction started on December 8, 1942, a year and a day after Pearl Harbor. The ship was built at the Cramp Shipbuilding Company in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and was launched on 20 February, 1944. The ship's sponsor was Mrs. Anton H. Classen. Construction continued through 1944 and the ship was commissioned on 22 December, 1944, two years and 14 days after construction started.

USS Oklahoma City CL-91 in 1945

USS Oklahoma City CL-91 specifications:

Displacement: 11,700 tons, 14,400 tons full load
Length: 610'1"
Beam: 66'4"
Draft: 24'10"
Propulsion: Steam turbines, four 634 psi boilers, four shafts, 100,000 hp
Speed: 31.6 knots
Complement: 1,426

Armament (9 April 1945): Four 6"/47 triple turret (12 guns):
ş and Ţ on the main deck
Š and š super elevated Six 5"/38 dual mount (12 guns) on the Communications Platform (O1 level) Four quad 40mm Bofors (16 guns) on the Flag Bridge and Middle Levels (O2 level) Six dual 40mm Bofors (12 guns) on the main deck and Communications Platform (O1 level) Ten single 20mm Oerlikon (10 guns):
Two on the main deck at the bow
Two on the Communications Platform (O1 level) forward
Two on the after funnel (After Fire Control Station)
Two on the Communications Platform (O1 level) aft
Two on the main deck at the stern Armor: 5" belt 2" third deck and first platform 6" inch turret face 1.5" turret sides 6" barbettes

Aircraft: Two catapults on the stern with two Curtis SC-1 Seahawks (could carry up to eight planes)

Boats: Two 26' motor whale boats in davits port and starboard

World War II

After commissioning the ship conducted a series of shakedown and training cruises off the east coast and at Trinidad, British West Indies. This was followed by a yard period at the Navy Yard, Philadelphia. The ship then left for training at Guantanamo, Cuba, in company with the USS Topeka (CL-67). The ships then left the Atlantic Ocean, passing through the Panama Canal into the Pacific. The ships arrived at Pearl Harbor on 2 May, 1945, and reported to the Commander of Cruisers in the Pacific (ComCruPac) for duty. After additional training operations in Hawaiian waters the ships departed for Ulithi Atoll on 22 May, 1945, arriving 1 June.

Oklahoma City joined Carrier Task Group 38.1 on 6 June, 1945, and proceeded to operations supporting the invasion of Okinawa, providing long range radar warning and anti-aircraft cover for the fleet. The ship steamed to San Pedro Bay, Leyte Island, Philippines, arriving 23 June. On 1 July Oklahoma City proceeded with Task Group 38.1 en route to the Japanese home islands. On 18 July 1945 the Oklahoma City joined with USS Topeka (CL-67), USS Atlanta (CL-104) and USS Dayton (CL-105) in Task Group 35.4 to bombard radar installations at Nojima Saki (Nojimazaki) near the entrance to Tokyo Bay, Japan. This was the only actual combat engagement for the OK City in WWII. The ship fired 60 rounds of 6"/47 HC projectiles. After these operations the Okie Boat rejoined carrier Task Group 38.1.

15 August, 1945, the ship received an AllNav notice from the Secretary of the Navy that Japan had accepted the terms of the Potsdam Agreement, with orders to cease operations. The ship continued to patrol off the coast of Japan with Task Group 38.2 after hostilities ended, and entered Tokyo Bay on 10 September, 1945, after 72 days at sea.* On 15 September the task group sortied to patrol near Japan, and on 20 September Task Group 38.2 was assigned to the Fifth Fleet and became TG 58.2. On 21 September Oklahoma City joined with USS Flint (CL-97) in Task Unit 58.2.12 and steamed to Eniwetok, Western Marshall Islands. The ship returned to Tokyo Bay 13 October and resumed operations in the Japanese Islands, arriving in Sasebo on 1 December, 1945.

The ship departed Sasebo 30 January, 1946, en route to the United States. The Oklahoma City arrived at San Francisco 14 February, 1946, and then went into Mare Island Naval Shipyard on 15 August for deactivation. The ship was decommissioned 30 June, 1947, and placed in the San Francisco Group of the U.S. Pacific Reserve Fleet.

USS Oklahoma City CL-91 earned the Asia Pacific Campaign Medal with two engagement stars for combat action in World War II.

Conversion

Most Cleveland class cruisers were scrapped, but that was not to be the Okie Boat's fate. World War II had demonstrated that the greatest threat to surface ships was aircraft. The Navy needed ships armed with guided missiles to provide anti aircraft protection for the fleet. New ships and missile systems were on the drawing boards, but were years away. As an interim measure several heavy and light cruisers were modified to carry the first generation missile systems that were developed after the war.

On 7 March, 1957, the Oklahoma City was towed to the Bethlehem Steel Corporation's Pacific Coast Yard in San Francisco. Conversion into a flagship and Talos guided missile cruiser began on 21 May, and the ship was redesignated CLG-5 on 23 May.

The conversion was a major reconstruction of the ship. Nearly everything above the main deck was removed or modified. Most of the 6"/47 and 5"/38 guns and all of the 40mm and 20mm antiaircraft guns were removed. All of the after superstructure and almost all of the forward superstructure was removed. The No. 1 6"/47 triple turret remained, and 5"/38 mount No. 51 was relocated on the O1 level at approximately the position of the original No. 2 turret. Below the main deck forward new 5" ammunition handling equipment was installed. The forward superstructure was enlarged significantly to provide space for flag officer quarters, staff quarters and offices.

The airplane catapults and hanger were removed from the stern. The hanger space was converted into crew quarters and storage space. A new armored deckhouse was constructed on the main deck for the Mk 7 Talos missile handling system and missile magazines. The Mk 7 Mod 0 missile launcher was located at approximately the position of the original No. 4 turret. A new deckhouse was constructed on top of the missile house to accommodate Weapons Control and the Talos tracking radars. Below the main deck aft were the Talos warhead magazine and warhead handling systems.

New boat handling and stowage facilities were installed amidships. Three huge radar towers were added forward, midships and aft to carry dozens of radar, radio and electronic countermeasures antennas. With all these changes the ship bore little resemblance to the original Cleveland class ships. It was essentially a new ship.

The USS Oklahoma City CLG-5 in early 1962

USS Oklahoma City CLG-5 specifications:

Displacement: 15,205 tons (full load)
Length: 610'1"
Beam: 66'4"
Draft: 25' 7"
Propulsion: Steam turbines, four 634 psi boilers, four shafts, 100,000 hp
Speed: 32 knots
Complement: 1,395 (ship's crew and flag staff)

Armament: One 6"/47 triple turret (3 guns) on the main deck One 5"/38 dual mount (2 guns) on the O1 level One Mk 7 Mod 0 Talos launching system (48 Talos missiles) and Mk 7 Mod 0 dual arm launcher on the main deck Armor: 5" belt 2" third deck and first platform 6" inch turret face 1.5" turret sides 6" barbettes 1.5" missile magazine

Aircraft: One Kaman UH-2B Seasprite helicopter (Blackbeard One)

Boats: Three 40' utility boats (later reduced to one) One 40' personnel boat Two 28' personnel boats Two 26' motor whale boats (later reduced to one)

Flagship

The conversion was completed on 31 August, 1960. The ship was towed to Hunter's Point naval yard where it was recommissioned on 7 September, 1960. The Oklahoma City CLG-5 and its new crew began shakedown training in January, 1961, and became the first guided missile cruiser in the Pacific Fleet to conduct a successful Talos missile launch. After shakedown and training exercises throughout the first half of 1961 the ship participated in training exercises and served as flagship for Cruiser Division 3 (CruDiv 3) and Cruiser Destroyer Flotilla 9 (CruDesFlot 9).

On 1 December, 1961, the ship sailed for the western Pacific command (WESTPAC) for a six month deployment. Okie Boat arrived at the U.S. Naval Base in Yokosuka, Japan, on 20 December. "Yoko" had been the home of the Imperial Japanese Navy in World War II, and it had extensive ship repair facilities and one of the largest dry docks in existence. The ship relieved the USS Saint Paul CA-73 as flagship for the Commander, U.S. Seventh Fleet, on 26 December, 1961. After participating in Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) training operations and "showing the flag" in many cities in the Far East the Oklahoma City was relieved as flagship of the 7th Fleet by USS Providence CLG-6 on 26 May 1962. The ship returned to Long Beach, California, on 12 June, 1962. The next few months were spent in inspections, training operations and upkeep. The ship again served as flagship for Cruiser Destroyer Flotilla 9 (CruDesFlot 9).

The ship entered the Long Beach Naval Shipyard for an extensive 15 month overhaul on 14 December, 1962. After the CLG Talos conversions the ship was very top heavy. The huge forward superstructure, massive missile house and tall radar towers caused the ship to roll dangerously in heavy seas. While in the ship yards an extensive program of topside weight reduction was initiated. Many of the antennas on the tall midships radar tower were relocated to lower positions. The Mk 34 director for the 6" battery was removed (the Okie Boat was the only CLG that had this fire control director removed) leaving both the 6 inch and 5 inch batteries under control of the remaining Mk 37 director. All unnecessary material from the forward O4 level superstructure was removed. The midships two-level boat davits were removed port and starboard and the boat stowage decks were reconstructed. A single bank dual arm davit for a 26 foot motor whaleboat was installed on the starboard side. The Fleet Automatic Shuttle Transfer (FAST) system crane was installed on top of the missile house. The original AN/SPS-37 air search radar on the fore tower was replaced with an AN/SPS-43 and the AN/SPS-8B height finding air search radar on the after tower was replaced with the AN/SPS-30.***

In March 1964 the ship left the yards and began refresher training off southern California. Then the ship sailed again for WESTPAC on 16 June, 1964, serving as temporary flagship for the Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet during change of command ceremonies at Pearl Harbor. Oklahoma City arrived in Yokosuka, Japan, on 7 July, 1964, and relieved the USS Providence CLG-6 as flagship of the 7th Fleet.

USS Oklahoma City CLG-5 in 1964

The Vietnam War

On 6 August, 1964, the ship was deployed to the Gulf of Tonkin with Task Force 77 in response to the Gulf of Tonkin incident. This was the beginning of eight years service in the Vietnam War. The ship alternated between gunfire support missions for U.S. and South Vietnamese troops, anti-aircraft suppression missions off North Vietnam (NVN), shipyard visits in Subic Bay, Philippines, and Yokosuka, and "flag waving" ambassadorial missions to numerous ports in Asia. Oklahoma City provided gunfire support for the amphibious assaults in operations "Piranha," "Double Eagle" and "Deckhouse IV."

After two and one-half years service as Seventh Fleet Flagship the Okie Boat was relieved by USS Providence CLG-6 on 1 December, 1966. The ship returned to San Francisco Naval Shipyard for overhaul on 15 December. During this yard period extensive additions were made to the ship's electronics countermeasures (ECM) systems to improve the defenses against anti-ship cruise missiles. Unnecessary topside weight was removed, including platforms on the after superstructure. The ship left the yards on 18 July, 1967, and began refresher training. The ship steamed to its new home port in San Diego on 22 July and assumed duties as flagship for the First Fleet. After calls to several west coast ports and an extensive training program the ship began preparing for another WESTPAC deployment. During this period several surface to surface test firings were conducted as part of the development of the new RIM-8H Talos anti-radar missile.

On 25 October, 1968, the Oklahoma City was relieved as First Fleet flagship by the USS Saint Paul CA-73. Oklahoma City again sailed for WESTPAC on 7 November, 1968. The ship arrived in Yokosuka 22 November. On 26 November the Oklahoma City relieved the USS Providence CLG-6 and resumed duties as flagship of the U.S. Seventh Fleet. The ship conducted Naval Gunfire Support (NGFS) missions in South Vietnam and made protocol visits to several ports in Asia in December 1968 and the first part of 1969. On 15 April 1969 North Korean aircraft shot down a US Navy EC-121 reconnaissance plane over the Sea of Japan. From 18 April to 27 April, 1969, the Oklahoma City participated in a search and rescue (SAR) operation in the Sea of Japan with Task Force 71. **

In 1969 and 1970 the ship conducted missions in the Combat Zone in Vietnam, made port visits throughout Asia and did upkeep and repairs in Subic Bay, Philippines and Yokosuka, Japan. Approximately one third of the ship's time was spent off the coast of Vietnam, divided about equally between gunfire support missions in the south near DaNang and the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and anti-aircraft suppression off North Vietnam. From a station off Vinh, North Vietnam, the ship's long range air search radars could cover most of North Vietnam and Laos. The ship also cruised outside the harbor at Haiphong, hoping to get a shot at NVN MiGs. Earlier experience had taught the NVN that flying was not safe while a Talos cruiser was in the vicinity, so while the Okie Boat was in North Vietnamese waters the ship did not have the opportunity to fire Talos missiles at "live" aircraft targets.

In 1971 the ship conducted Naval Gunfire Support missions in South Vietnam and operated on PIRAZ (Positive Identification Radar Advisory Zone) and SAR stations off North Vietnam. Between periods in the Combat Zone the ship visited ports in Asia and underwent upkeep and repair In Yokosuka. Oklahoma City took aboard the new RIM-8H Talos anti-radiation missiles in mid 1971. These missiles were designed to destroy enemy radar sites. After a practice firing off Okinawa the Oklahoma City spent part of its time off North Vietnam "radar hunting." In February, 1972, the Oklahoma City became the first U.S. warship to conduct a successful combat surface-to-surface missile shot, destroying a NVN mobile radar system.

The US stepped up activities against North Vietnam after NVN divisions invaded across the DMZ. The Okie Boat left Yokusuka and arrived in the Gulf of Tonkin on 7 April, 1972. The ship was assigned to Task Unit 70.8.9. On 8 April the ship received hostile fire from NVN shore batteries and returned fire. Oklahoma City, in company with several destroyers, moved north along the coast and fired on a series of targets in North Vietnam including installations at Cap Lay, Vinh, and the Dong Hoi Airfield.

The ship was reassigned to Task Unit 77.1.1 on 13 April. On 14 April the ship again engaged NVN shore batteries. On 19 April Oklahoma City and accompanying destroyers conducted a second strike at Dong Hoi surface-to air missile sites. During this strike intense hostile fire was received from coastal gun batteries. The Oklahoma City received minor damage from from near misses - shrapnel chipped paint and cut a wire antenna. Shortly thereafter the Task Unit was attacked by two MiG 17 aircraft, one of which was reportedly shot down by a missile from the USS Sterrett DLG-31 3 (some sources claim the aircraft was shot down, and others say it wasn't). During the attack a bomb exploded off the OK City's starboard bow but caused no damage. The destroyer USS Higbee DD-806 was hit by a bomb aft and though several personnel were injured, there were no fatalities. Several NVN torpedo boats also attacked the Task Unit, and at least one was destroyed. This engagement has become known as the Battle of Dong Hoi. The Okie Boat and accompanying ships continued engagements with NVN coastal guns for several weeks, destroying gun installations, radar sites, missile sites, airfields, bridges, fuel storage sites, communications facilities and troop barracks.

On 10 May, 1972, Oklahoma City joined the cruisers USS Newport News (CG-148), USS Providence (CLG-6) and destroyers USS Hanson (DD-832), USS Myles C. Fox (DD-829) and USS Buchannan (DDG-14), and shelled the Cat Bai military airfield on the Do Son peninsula at the mouth of Haiphong Harbor, North Vietnam. This was the first multi-cruiser strike since World War II, and was a repeat of the multi-cruiser bombardment the ship participated in 27 years earlier during WWII. The ship continued to conduct Naval Gunfire Support operations through the rest of 1972, along with protocol visits to ports in Asia and upkeep in Subic Bay and Yokosuka.

The OK City fired about 18,080 5"/38 and 31,370 6"/47 rounds in more than 1,100 Naval Gunfire Support and shore bombardment operations during the Vietnam War, or a total of 49,450 rounds. The total weight of the projectiles was approximately 4,211,430 pounds, or 2,105.7 tons.

The USS Oklahoma City earned the Armed Forces Expeditionary Service Medal with two campaign stars and the Vietnam Service Medal with eleven campaign stars for service during the Vietnam War.

Post War

The formal cease fire for the Vietnam War was announced on 28 January, 1973. After this the pace of activities slowed dramatically, but the Oklahoma City continued to visit the Gulf of Tonkin through May to help enforce the cease fire. The ship continued its schedule of good will visits throughout WESTPAC, with frequent training exercises and inspections to keep the ship in a state of readiness. In 1974 the ship had a series of shipyard periods for a Navy Distillate fuel conversion modification to the engineering plant.

The Oklahoma City participated in the final actions of the Vietnam War. In April 1975 the ship took part in operation Frequent Wind to rescue American and friendly Vietnamese personnel during the fall of Saigon. From 22 April to 30 April The Okie Boat served as command ship for the operation. On the 29th and 30th the ship landed 13 helicopters carrying 154 refugees fleeing the North Vietnamese Army as it captured Saigon.

The Oklahoma City was redesignated CG-5 on 30 June, 1975. It underwent an extensive series of Regular Overhaul periods to renovate much of the ship in 1975. OK City continued to serve as Seventh Fleet flagship, showing the flag and serving as ambassador in ports in Asia and the South Pacific. Cruises took the ship to Guam, around Australia, to Indonesia, and to ports along the east coast of Asia from Malaysia and Singapore to Korea and throughout the Japanese Islands.

From 1975 through 1979 the ship continued to conduct training exercises and inspections to maintain a state of readiness. She conducted several multinational training operations with ships from the navies of Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia and Japan. In May, 1979, The Oklahoma City fired the Navy's last Talos surface to air intercept exercise off Poro Point, Republic of the Philippines. The ship began a series of BUZZARDEX operations firing Talos missiles as targets for aircraft and other ships with advanced Terrier and Standard missile systems.

The inspection schedule became more rigorous as the Navy evaluated the old ship's aging condition. The ship continued to get a passing grade on INSURV inspections after other ships of its generation were found unfit for service, a tribute to the efforts of the crews to keep the ship operational. In 1979 the Navy finally decided to retire the ship. On 5 October, 1979, the Okie Boat was relieved as Seventh Fleet flagship by the command ship USS Blue Ridge (AGC-19) at Yokosuka, Japan.

USS Oklahoma City CG-5 in the late 1970s

On 9 October, 1979, the USS Oklahoma City sailed from Yokosuka, Japan, for the last time. After serving eleven continuous years in WESTPAC as flagship of the Seventh Fleet the ship sailed to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and then to San Francisco, California. On the way from San Francisco to San Diego the Okie Boat participated in another BUZZARDEX off Point Magu. In this exercise the USS Norton Sound (AVM-1) achieved the first successful intercept of a Mach 2.7 Talos target with a Standard 1 missile and the prototype Aegis fire control system. On 6 November, 1979, the Oklahoma City launched the last Talos missile fired from a ship and fired the last 6"/47 gun salvo from a US Navy ship.

USS Oklahoma City Commanding Officers

Name Rank From To
Charles Boardman Hunt CAPT 22 December 1944 31 October 1945
Dashiell Livingston Madeira CAPT 31 October 1945 5 June 1946
Herbert von Arx Burkhart CDR 5 June 1946 1 July 1946
Charles Owen Humphreys CAPT 1 July 1946 30 June 1947
Ben William Sarver CAPT 7 September 1960 7 July 1961
George Read Muse CAPT 7 July 1961 18 July 1962
Richard Dryden Mugg CAPT 18 July 1962 14 August 1963
Emmett Peyton Bonner CAPT 14 August 1963 5 August 1964
Harry Augustus Seymour CAPT 5 August 1964 12 July 1965
Kendall Washburn Simmons CAPT 12 July 1965 3 October 1966
David Harrington Bagley CAPT 3 October 1966 21 June 1968
Wayne Douglas Surface CAPT 21 June 1968 29 September 1969
Jay Stanley Howell CAPT 29 September 1969 26 February 1971
John Joseph Tice III CAPT 26 February 1971 22 June 1972
William Atherton Kanakanui Jr. CAPT 22 June 1972 4 October 1974
Paul Donald Butcher CAPT 4 October 1974 22 October 1976
Thomas Richard Colligan CAPT 22 October 1976 16 December 1978
Rodney Bonner McDaniel CAPT 16 December 1978 3 November 1979
James Arthur Shreckengaust CDR 3 November 1979 15 December 1979

The End

The USS Oklahoma City was decommissioned and stricken from service on 15 December, 1979, in San Diego, thirty five years after beginning service in the U.S. Navy. The Oklahoma City was on active duty for twenty one years, the longest service record of all ships of the Cleveland class. The ship was awarded ten medals and three commendations, and earned fifteen engagement stars for action in World War II and Vietnam.

In December, 1979, the ship was towed to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington, and placed in the mothball fleet. It remained there until 1992 when it was towed to the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet at Benicia, California. After hull repairs at Richmond, California, the ship was modified to serve as a test platform for new weapons sensors and countermeasures systems. The ship was then towed to Port Hueneme, California, where she was occasionally towed out to sea to test new electronics and radars, including equipment for the B2 bomber.

In the spring of 1996 the ship was transferred to inactive ships and the decision was made to use her as a target in a SINKEX (sink exercise). She was towed to the Suisen Bay Reserve Fleet to await her fate. In October 1998 the ship was towed to Mare Island Naval Shipyard, Vallejo, California, for preparation as a target ship. The ship was towed through the Golden Gate on 6 January, 1999, arriving in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on 20 January, 1999. While at Pearl Harbor the Stars and Stripes was hoisted to the top of her mast for the last time. On 16 February she was towed to Guam by the USS Narragansett (ATF-167).

As part of the Multinational Training Exercise 1999 the ex-USS Oklahoma City was fired upon by ships and aircraft from 25 to 27 March, and finally was sunk by a torpedo from the South Korean submarine Le Chung (SS-062). The ship sank about 230 miles (375 km) southwest of Guam (10° 57' 00" N, 142° 06' 00" E) in about 6000 feet of water on 27 March, 1999, at 11:03 AM, 25 minutes after being torpedoed.


Talk:USS Oklahoma City (CL-91)

The name of the exercise in which the Oklahoma City was sunk was Tandem Thrust. It took place near Guam, in March 1999.

I removed the footnotes flag because it was annoying and somewhat incorrect. Like the vast majority of articles on US warships, this article is nearly a verbatim version of the ship's entry in DANFS. Sometimes Wikpedia's obsessive footnoting style works well, but here it doesn't. To use it, you'd have to footnote every sentence. A possible solution, one that I am going to try to see what the reaction is, is to say at the beginning "Unless otherwise noted, all information below is from. ". But back to the big issue. Most US ship articles are little more or nothing more than the DANFS entry. If this one is flagable, then probably hundreds more are. If we are to flag, we should do it consistently. And given that their probably are hundreds, do we want all those flags hanging around forever? Busaccsb (talk) 17:10, 17 January 2011 (UTC)

What is the reference for the 1971 date for the RIM-8H ARM missile shot? What was the date of the shot? Contact me through this URL: http://www.okieboat.com/Contact%20page.html Prhays (talk) 00:42, 14 January 2016 (UTC)

I wanted to edit the title of this page from USS Oklahoma City (CL-91) to USS Oklahoma City (CL-91/CLG-5/CG-5), but could not edit the title.

I served on the USS Oklahoma City (CG-5) between 1977-1979. But when I looked it up on the web, I only found your reference to USS Oklahoma City (CL-91) and NOT (CG-5) and so I thought it was a different ship until actually looking into the article.

Thus I recommend changing the title to include all of her nomenclatures CL-91/CLG-5/CG-5.

Sincerely, Walter Benton wbenton 07:09, 4 March 2018 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Wbenton (talk • contribs)

The following Wikimedia Commons files used on this page or its Wikidata item have been nominated for speedy deletion:

You can see the reasons for deletion at the file description pages linked above. —Community Tech bot (talk) 17:53, 27 March 2020 (UTC)

The following Wikimedia Commons file used on this page or its Wikidata item has been nominated for deletion:

Participate in the deletion discussion at the nomination page. —Community Tech bot (talk) 15:41, 30 October 2020 (UTC)


Oklahoma City CL-91 - History

Founded: 2008

# Seasons in WPSL: 15

Overall WPSL Record: 88-29-165

Winning Percentage: .723%

Conference/Division Titles: 5

Regional Championships: 3

2008-11 OKC Alliance

Oklahoma City had its first WPSL team in 2008 and played for four seasons as the OKC Alliance. The club was owned by a group of local soccer enthusiasts and led by the team&rsquos head coach Jimmy Hampton. The Alliance had grand success as won the conference title in three of its first four seasons and compiled an overall record of 30-5-2 for a winning percentage of .861. In 2010, the Alliance advanced to the WPSL Championship semifinals.

2012-Present Oklahoma City FC

Prior to the 2012 season, Sean Jones acquired the Alliance and re-branded the WPSL side Oklahoma City FC, selecting light blue as the team&rsquos primary color, accented with gold and charcoal grey. The Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher, the official State Bird of Oklahoma, serves as the signature art piece within the team&rsquos award-winning crest.

Jones partnered with long-time Oklahoma City sports executives DeBray Ayala and Brad Lund as the club continued its winning ways. The team has hosted home matches at Oklahoma City University, Casady School, Yukon Schools, Mid-America Christian University, Norman North High School and Mustang High School. In 2021, FC will call Mustang its permanent home and play all home matches at the high school&rsquos Varsity Soccer Complex.

Oklahoma City FC won the conference championship in 2015 and advanced to the WPSL Championship semifinals in 2012 and 2015. The Scissor-Tails picked up their seventh conference title in club history in 2017 with co-head coaches Zach Bice and Evan Dresel at the helm.


USS Oklahoma City CL 91 / CLG 5 / CG 5

USS Oklahoma City CL 91 / CLG 5 / CG 5

Stolen from Charles Knowlton

The USS Oklahoma City was designed with a multi-purpose gun battery capable of performing anti-ship, anti-shore and anti-aircraft roles. It served all of these duties in World War II. During the Vietnam war the ship participated in naval gunfire support (NGFS) and attack missions in south and north Vietnam.

Most of the records of the ship’s gunfire missions have survived. During WWII gunfire data were reported in monthly War Diaries. Records of early gunfire missions in Vietnam are sketchy. At first gunfire mission data were recorded in the annual Ship’s History report, but only the first missions were recorded. After that there are no records except the note that the ship conducted NGFS missions on certain dates. Starting in March 1966 the Navy began compiling Combat Naval Gunfire Support File (CONGA) records. These are available through the US National Archives, and include all NGFS activity for all ships through the end of the Vietnam War in 1973. From these records I have compiled an almost complete record of the ship’s gunfire missions. This complete gunfire support record for the USS Oklahoma City is available in PDF and Excel formats.

The USS Oklahoma City CL-91 was commissioned on 22 December 1944. It conducted shakedown and training cruises through June 1945 when it entered the Pacific war theater. The ship was involved in combat operations in June, July and August of 1945. The table shows the ammunition expenditures recorded in the ship’s war diaries.

War Diary Data 22 December 1944 to 17 October 1945

Unknown 1213 Unknown 5614 52582 56276

Total 1383 6382 52582 56276

The ship carried twelve 6″/47, twelve 5″/38, twenty-eight 40mm and ten 20mm guns. The average rounds per gun in WWII was 115 for the 6″/47, 532 for the 5″/38, 1,878 for the 40mm and 5,628 for the 20mm.

Most records did not indicate the type of ammunition so these are listed as “Unknown” type. BL&P were blind loaded and plugged training rounds. BL&T were blind loaded and plugged rounds with a tracer. These were training rounds fired on the first shakedown cruise. HC was a high capacity or high explosive round with a large amount of explosive and a nose contact fuze. The AAC antiaircraft common round had a mechanical time fuze or a variable time (VT) proximity fuze. ILLUM were illumination rounds that carried a flare that was deployed to illuminate night scenes. I have no idea what BLOT and MK 53 rounds were, but there were very few of these.

Almost all of this ammunition was expended in training exercises that were held nearly every day. Searching through the War Diaries I found only one record of actual combat. On 18 July 1945, the USS Oklahoma City CL-91 joined with the USS Topeka CL-67, USS Atlanta CL-104 and USS Dayton CL-105 for shore bombardment of a radar installation at Nojima Saki (Nojimazaki) Japan, south of Tokyo near the entrance to Tokyo Wan. The Oklahoma City fired 60 rounds of 6″/47 HC projectiles.

Oklahoma City was assigned to antiaircraft protection and long-range radar search for fast carrier task forces for most of its time in the war. There were many instances when enemy aircraft approached the OK City but in every case, they were downed by combat air patrol (CAP) or other ship’s antiaircraft guns before they came in range of the Oklahoma City’s guns. This was especially true in the last days of the war when CAP downed 10 planes on 13 August and another 5 on 15 August, the last day of the war.

One other interesting bit of information about naval gunfire was recorded in the 26 July 1945, War Diary entry. The ship periodically tested the ammunition it received, and it found that found 44% of VT fuzed 5″/38 AAC (antiaircraft common) ammunition was defective. The VT fuze was a radio proximity device that detonated the shell when it passed close to a target – or at least it was supposed to.

The USS Oklahoma City CLG-5’s first Vietnam fire mission was on 15 June 1965. Records after June 1965 are incomplete but indicate that the ship fired “some 1000” 5″/38 and “nearly 2000″ 6″/47 rounds between March 1965 and December 1966. The CONGA records for the Oklahoma City start with a fire mission on 2 March 1966 and end with the final mission on 4 December 1972. The CONGA records list 578 5″/38 and 1,192 6󉐛 rounds fired between 2 March 1966 and 29 November 1966. Therefore, the ship fired about 420 5″ and 800 6” rounds before the CONGA records start. The ship’s history records for 1966 have been lost, so the actual number of fire missions before the CONGA records start is unknown.

The graph shows when the ship conducted gunfire missions. The ship was stationed in California in 1967 and most of 1968. The ship conducted a large number of NGFS missions in 1969. Much of 1970 and 1971 was spent on PIRAZ and SAR (search and rescue) stations in the Gulf of Tonkin off North Vietnam. Late 1971 and early 1972 the ship was “radar hunting” off the coast of North Vietnam. Many of the gunfire missions in 1972 were shore bombardment along the coast of North Vietnam during operations Freedom Train and Linebacker.

The CONGA records include 1099 NGFS and shore bombardment records between 2 March 1966 and 4 December 1972. The table shows the ammunition expenditures recorded in the CONGA records.

CONGA Records Data 2 March 1966 to 29 November 1972

5″/38 HC (high capacity) 14944 6″/47 HC (high capacity) 30516

5″/38 VT (variable time fuse) 389 6″/47 AP (armor piercing) 55

5″/38 AAC (AA common) 929 Total 6″/47 30571

5″/38 ILLUM (illumination) 961

5″/38 WP (white phosphorous) 162

5″/38 RAP (rocket assisted projectile) 275

Total 5″/38 17660 Total 5″ + 6″ 48231

If the approximately 420 5″/38 and 800 6″/47 rounds fired before the CONGA reports started are added in, the ship fired about 18,080 5″/38 and 31,370 6″/47 rounds in combat during the Vietnam War, or a total of 49,450 rounds. This does not include ammunition expended during training exercises or readiness qualifications. I have no records of ammunition expended for training and qualification, but we didn’t do this very often. For the data in the CONGA records, the average number of rounds fired per fire mission was about 44 rounds, although the numbers ranged from 1 to 529 rounds permission.

The CLG configuration carried three 6″/47 and two 5″/38 guns. Average rounds per gun in Vietnam were 10,457 for the 6″/47 and 9,040 for the 5″/38. The ship fired 6.4 times as many 5″ and 6″ rounds as it did in WWII, and the average number of rounds per gun was 88.6 times as great for the 6″/47 and 16.6 times as great for the 5″/38. This does not include training rounds fired during Vietnam, but they were an insignificant number compared to combat firings. The ship fired 824 times as many shells in combat in Vietnam as it did in WWII.

The HC rounds had 7.86 pounds of Explosive D in each 5″/38 and 13.22 pounds in the 6″/47 projectiles. They had contact fuzes and the main effect was the explosion and shrapnel. The 6″/47 armor piercing rounds carried only 1.95 pounds of Explosive D and were used against hard targets like concrete bunkers. The VT rounds were HC projectiles with radio proximity fuzes that would detonate the round in the air. They were used to shower shrapnel on troop concentrations in the open. AA Common rounds were similar but they had mechanical time fuzes that detonated above the surface. They were also used against troops in the open. Illumination rounds carried parachute flares that were deployed high in the air to light up the countryside at night. The white phosphorous (Willie Peter) rounds exploded and sprayed burning phosphorous. This produced a large cloud of smoke. They carried little explosives and were mainly used for spotting the initial rounds of a fire mission. After the spotter corrected fire onto the target another type of round would be used for effect. Willie Peter could be used to create a smoke screen, and it was effective against personnel. Rocket Assisted Projectiles had a reduced explosive charge and a small rocket in the base. After they left the gun barrel the rocket fired to extend the range. They were used for targets outside the normal range of the guns.

Based upon the amount of explosives per round and the numbers and types of rounds listed in the CONGA data, the OK City pumped about 545,553 pounds (272.8 tons) of explosives into the jungles of Vietnam. That is just the weight of explosives in the shells. The total weight of the projectiles was approximately 4,230,723 pounds or 2,115.4 tons. That’s about the weight of some of the destroyers we operated with, all squeezed out of two 5″ and three 6″ gun barrels!

The CONGA records report 1,565 targets damaged or destroyed and 58 confirmed enemies killed in action. Target descriptions include structures or buildings, antiaircraft site, CD site, radar site, base, naval base, port facility, military installation, rice storage, supply area, ammunition storage, caves, bunkers, trench line, tunnel, minefield, supply route, road, bridge, base camp, command post, observation post, infiltration point, staging area, VC/NVA position, troop assembly area, troop concentrations, WBLC (water born logistics target, or boat), sampan, barge, ferry, vehicle, truck, tank, mortar site, automatic weapon position, weapon, artillery site, SAM missile site, aircraft, area or landing zone preparation (vegetation removal), and H&I.

H&I was “harassment and interdiction.” We pumped bullets into the jungle on “suspected” targets like trail junctions during night time. The ship took up a position off shore and about every 30 minutes or so we would fire a bunch of projectiles. The CONGA data records that we fired 7,938 5″/38 and 10,921 6″/47 shells for H&I, or 18,859 total. That is 39.1% of the total rounds in the CONGA record. We fired 301 H&I missions, so 27.4% of the total missions did not have real targets.


Oklahoma City CL-91 - History

Bring the Cruise Book to Life with this Multimedia Presentation

This CD will Exceed your Expectations

A great part of naval history.

You would be purchasing an exact copy of the USS Oklahoma City CL 91 cruise book during World War II. Each page has been placed on a CD for years of enjoyable computer viewing. The CD comes in a plastic sleeve with a custom label. Every page has been enhanced and is readable. Rare cruise books like this sell for a hundred dollars or more when buying the actual hard copy if you can find one for sale.

This would make a great gift for yourself or someone you know who may have served aboard her. Usually only ONE person in the family has the original book. The CD makes it possible for other family members to have a copy also. You will not be disappointed we guarantee it.

Some of the items in this book are as follows:

    • Dates and Data December 1944 - October 1945
    • Divisional Group Photos With Names
    • Commissioning and Launching Ceremonies
    • Japan , Eniwetok
    • Many Crew Member Activity Photos

    Over 250 Photos on 189 pages. 10 pages with written description telling the WWII story for this ship.

    Once you view this CD you will know what life was like on this Light Cruiser during World War II.


    Church History

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    How the push for statehood led a beacon of racial progress to oppression and violence

    In October 1907, eleven black leaders from the “Twin Territories,” out on the frontier, traveled to Washington, D.C. in a last-ditch effort to prevent Oklahoma from becoming a state. Among them were A.G.W. Sango, a prominent real estate investor who wanted to draw more black people out West W.H. Twine, a newspaper editor whose weekly Muskogee Cimeter had been mounting a forceful opposition campaign against statehood for weeks and J. Coody Johnson, a lawyer who was a member of the Creek Nation and had served in its legislature in the town of Okmulgee. These men had carved unlikely paths to success on the outskirts of America, where the nation’s racial hierarchy had not yet fully calcified. But they feared that when Indian Territory and Oklahoma Territory were combined to form a new state, Jim Crow laws would again thrust black people under the heel of white supremacy. The men needed help to prevent that from happening.

    They hoped to find an ally in President Theodore Roosevelt. He was a member of their own Republican Party and had signaled that he would veto any state constitution that included Jim Crow discrimination. Over the course of a few days, the delegation met with the U.S. attorney general, the secretary of the interior, and finally, the president himself. Details of the exchange are unknown, but the group must have told Roosevelt how Oklahoma legislators planned to institutionalize segregation, including banning black people from white train cars, keeping them out of white schools and preventing them from voting. Some of the white residents of the territories wanted to do worse.

    (As part of our centennial coverage of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, read about efforts to recover the massacre's long-buried history in "American Terror")

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    This article is a selection from the April issue of Smithsonian magazine

    These black men had no say in drafting the state constitution, and they didn’t have the numbers to vote it down at the ballot box. But they thought Roosevelt might recognize that Oklahoma did not deserve to become a warped appendage of the Deep South, when it could be so much more—when it had been so much more. The delegation left Washington feeling optimistic. “The work has been done,” Twine reported in the Cimeter, “and eagerly are results awaited.”

    Black people arrived in Oklahoma long before the prospect of statehood. The first to settle in the area were enslaved by Native American tribes in the Deep South, and they made the journey in the 1830s as hunters, nurses and cooks during the brutal forced exodus known as the Trail of Tears. In Indian Territory (much of today’s eastern Oklahoma) slavery as practiced by the Creek, Choctaw, Cherokee, Chickasaw and Seminole tribes sometimes resembled the vicious plantation systems of the South. During the Civil War, the Five Tribes sided with the Confederacy, but after the war most of the tribes, bound by new treaties with the federal government, granted formerly enslaved people citizenship, autonomy and a level of respect unheard of in the post-Reconstruction South. In the Creek and Seminole tribes, black tribal members farmed alongside Native Americans on communally owned land, served as justices in tribal governments, and acted as interpreters for tribal leaders in negotiations with the growing American empire.

    J. Coody Johnson, a Creek tribal member and lawyer, fought for black civil rights. Center, Seminole Chief Halputta Micco. Right, Okcha Hacho, a member of the Seminole council. (Oklahoma Historical Society)

    Black Americans with no ties to the Five Tribes journeyed to Oklahoma on their own accord, attracted by the promise of equality on the frontier. Edward McCabe, a lawyer and politician from New York, ventured to Oklahoma Territory in 1890, where he founded a town exclusively for black settlers called Langston, promising his brethren in the South a utopia where “the colored man has the same protection as his white brother.” Ida B. Wells, the crusading journalist who dedicated her life to chronicling the scourge of lynching, visited Oklahoma in April 1892 and saw “the chance [black people] had of developing manhood and womanhood in this new territory.” There was truth to these proclamations. In pre-statehood Oklahoma, it was common for white and black children to attend the same schools as late as 1900. Black politicians held public office not only in tribal governments but also in Oklahoma Territory, the modern-day western half of the state. In the early days of Tulsa, black residents owned businesses in the predominantly white downtown district and even had white employees.

    Oklahoma was evolving into an unusually egalitarian place. But it was also nurturing a vision at odds with America’s increasingly rapacious capitalist ideals. In 1893, former Massachusetts senator Henry Dawes led a federal commission to compel the Five Tribes to divide their communally owned lands into individually owned allotments. Dawes considered himself a “friend of the Indians,” as white humanitarians of the era were called. But his approach to “helping” Native Americans hinged on their assimilation into white America’s cultural and economic systems. He was mystified by Native Americans’ practice of sharing resources without trying to exploit them for personal profit. “There is no selfishness, which is at the bottom of civilization,” he reported to the Board of Indian Commissioners in Washington. “Until this people consent to give up their lands. they will not make much progress.” In a series of forced negotiations beginning in 1897, Congress compelled the Five Tribes to convert more than 15 million acres of land to individual ownership. Tribal members became U.S. citizens by government mandate.

    Black tribal members, who were classified as “freedmen” by the Dawes Commission, initially seemed to benefit from the allotment process. They were granted approximately two million acres of property, the largest transfer of land wealth to black people in the history of the United States. It was the 󈬘-acres-and-a-mule” promise from the Civil War made real black members of the Creek Nation actually got 160 acres. But the privatization of land also made tribal members vulnerable to the predations of the free market. Though Congress initially restricted the sale of land allotments, in order to prevent con men from tricking tribal members out of their property, these regulations disappeared under pressure from land developers and railroad companies. Eventually, many Native Americans were swindled out of their land black people lost their protection first. “It will make a class of citizens here who, because of the fact that they do not understand the value of their lands, will part with them for a nominal sum,” J. Coody Johnson warned at a congressional hearing in Muskogee in 1906. Officials ignored him.

    B.C. Franklin, a black Choctaw tribal member who later became a prominent Tulsa attorney, stands with associates outside his law offices in Ardmore, Oklahoma, in 1910. (Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift from Tulsa Friends and John W. and Karen R. Franklin)

    Graft and exploitation became widespread practices in Indian Territory and Oklahoma Territory. Given implicit permission by the federal government, white professionals continued a wide-ranging effort to dismantle black wealth in the region. Black children allotted land bubbling with oil were assigned white legal guardians, who sometimes stole tens of thousands of dollars from their wards. Real estate men tricked illiterate black people into signing predatory contracts, sometimes for under $1 per acre (less than one-sixth their average value, according to the congressional treaties). Black-owned property was often simply taken by force. White locals ran black residents out of communities like Norman, the current home of the University of Oklahoma, and established “sundown towns,” where no black person was welcome at night. None of this was done in secrecy it was spoken of casually, boastfully, even patriotically. “We did the country a service,” C.M. Bradley, a Muskogee banker who was arrested for defrauding black landowners, told a congressional panel. “If this business that I am in is a grafting game, then there is not a business in the world that is not a graft.”

    Black communities in the Twin Territories also wrestled with deep internal tensions. At first, black tribal members clashed with the African Americans who immigrated later. The freedmen viewed the black interlopers as participants in the white man’s plunder and called them “state Negroes” (or sometimes a Creek word for “white man’s Negro”). The new black migrants called the black tribal members “natives.” In Boley, an all-black town populated by migrants, freedmen would gallop through the streets at night shooting out residents’ windows. In the pages of the black press, businessmen admonished freedmen for betraying the race by selling their land allotments to white men instead of black entrepreneurs. Black migrants and freedmen, in other words, did not see themselves as sharing a racial identity.

    The people around them, though, increasingly did. Within the Five Tribes, earlier notions of egalitarianism were replaced with a fixation on blood quantum—a person’s percentage of “Indian blood” based on their ancestry—as a marker of tribal legitimacy. (Creek descendants of slaves are still fighting today for their tribal citizenship to be acknowledged in both tribal and U.S. courts.) Meanwhile, as Jim Crow crept westward across the prairies, new laws excluded blacks from white schools. Black political aspirations dimmed as many Republicans began advocating Jim Crow policies in an effort to secure white votes. Sundown towns spread. Lynchings of black people became more common. “We are vilified and abused by the Guthrie lily-whites until election time draws near and then the crack of the whip is heard,” a black Republican named C.H. Tandy said during this period. “I have talked to all my brethren and they are mad. We won’t stand it any longer.”

    In 1907 two separate entities were joined to create the 46th state, outlined above. Native Americans largely opposed the move as encroachment: Indian Territory had been set aside for the Five Tribes, forcibly relocated decades earlier during the Trail of Tears. (Library of Congress)

    The battle over Oklahoma’s constitution represented a bellwether for how legally sanctioned racism would be tolerated in the United States at the dawn of a new century. Since the 1890s, settlers in the Twin Territories had advocated statehood to legitimize their encroachment on land that wasn’t theirs. As the white population of the region grew, the political power of competing groups waned. In 1905, Congress ignored an effort by the Five Tribes to get Indian Territory accepted into the Union as a state on its own, governed by Native Americans. The next year, when white leaders assembled a constitutional convention with congressional approval, black people were largely shut out of the drafting of the document. Statehood would cement white political power as the land allotment process had guaranteed white economic power.

    William H. Murray, the Democratic delegate who was elected president of the constitutional convention, summed up the racial philosophy of the Twin Territories’ white leaders in his inaugural convention speech: “As a rule [Negroes] are failures as lawyers, doctors, and in other professions. He must be taught in the line of his own sphere, as porters, bootblacks, and barbers and many lines of agriculture, horticulture and mechanics in which he is an adept, but it is an entirely false notion that the negro can rise to the equal of a white man.”

    Murray called for separate schools, separate train cars and a ban on interracial marriage. The convention hall itself had a segregated gallery for black onlookers. But black leaders refused to cede their civil rights. While the mostly white convention was happening in Guthrie, in December 1906, black residents organized a competing convention in Muskogee. They declared the constitution “a disgrace to our western civilization . . . that would cause endless strife, racial discord, tumult and race disturbances.” In April 1907, three hundred African Americans, including J. Coody Johnson, met at the Oklahoma City courthouse to convene the Negro Protective League, a black advocacy group. They galvanized opposition to the constitution in every town and hamlet, organizing petitions and mailing out thousands of letters to black citizens directing them to vote against its ratification. “Help us defeat a constitution that lays the foundation for the disfranchisement of our people in the new state and. measures calculated to humiliate and degrade the whole race,” black residents demanded in a petition to state Republican leaders. It failed.

    William Murray, an anti-corporate crusader and folksy future governor, was also a vehement segregationist. He ensured that the Oklahoma constitution discriminated against African Americans. (Library of Congress)

    In September 1907, the constitution was put to a public vote, and passed with 71 percent approval. This is what led the delegation of black leaders to travel to the nation’s capital the following month. They hoped President Roosevelt would block the state’s admission to the Union because of the self-evident racism of its proposed government. The conditions for accepting Oklahoma into the Union were already clear: In the 1906 federal law allowing for Oklahoma’s statehood, Congress required the new state’s constitution to “make no distinction in civil or political rights on account of race or color.” But Murray and other convention delegates were careful to leave out certain egregious discriminatory provisions. They understood how to follow the letter of the law while trampling over the spirit of it.

    By the time the black leaders were standing face to face with Roosevelt, he had apparently already made up his mind.

    On November 16, 1907, the president signed the proclamation turning Indian Territory and Oklahoma Territory into the 46th U.S. state, Oklahoma. Despite Roosevelt’s professed misgivings about admitting a state that discriminated against a portion of its citizens, the constitution itself enshrined the segregation of schools. With the president’s signature secured, state leaders moved aggressively to enact the rest of their Jim Crow agenda. The very first law passed by the state legislature segregated train cars. Next, the legislature passed the so-called “grandfather clause,” which circumvented federal voter rights protections by instituting a literacy test on any person whose ancestors had not been allowed to vote before 1866. Naturally, that included all descendants of slaves. Ultimately, the legislature would segregate nearly every aspect of public life—hospitals, cemeteries, even phone booths. Oklahoma’s formal and fully legalized racism was actually more rigid than that in much of the Deep South, where Jim Crow was sometimes upheld by custom and violence rather than legal mandate. In the South, segregation emerged from the vestiges of slavery and failed Reconstruction in Oklahoma, it was erected statute by statute.

    Ironically, at the time, Oklahoma’s state constitution was hailed as a victory for the progressive movement. William Murray, the constitutional convention president and future Oklahoma governor, earned the folksy nickname “Alfalfa Bill,” and was seen as an anti-corporate crusader in an age of oppressive monopolies. The constitution allowed for municipal ownership of utilities, increased taxes on corporations, made many more public offices subject to democratic elections, and set train fares at the affordable rate of 2 cents per mile. The progressive magazine the Nation declared that Oklahoma’s constitution had come “nearer than any other document in existence to expressing the ideas and aspirations of the day.”

    Edward McCabe settled in Oklahoma Territory in 1890, where he founded the all-black town of Langston, helped form its namesake university and launched a newspaper to promote black migration. (Science History Images / Alamy Stock Photo)

    But this view of “progress” measured success only by how much it benefited white people. And it led to broader disenfranchisement when those in charge perceived threats to their power. An early push at the convention to expand suffrage to women, for example, failed when delegates realized that black women were likely to vote in larger numbers than white ones.

    And the constitution had another profound consequence that would alter the demographic landscape of the new state. It erased the line between “freedmen” and “state Negroes” once and for all. The document stipulated that laws governing “colored” people would apply only to those of African descent. “The term ‘white race,’ shall include all other persons,” it stated. In other words, segregation measures would apply to black migrants and black tribal members, but not to Native Americans.

    With all black people in Oklahoma now grouped together, a new and more unified black identity began to emerge. It was represented most vividly in a neighborhood on the northern edge of Tulsa, in what had been Indian Territory, where black people learned to be collaborative, prosperous and defiant. The place was called Greenwood.

    O.W. and Emma Gurley arrived in Tulsa from Perry, Oklahoma Territory, in 1905, on the eve of a radical transformation. The city, which occupied land long owned by the Creek Nation, had recently been incorporated by white developers in spite of opposition by Creek leaders. White newcomers were rapidly expanding neighborhoods south of the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway. The Gurleys decided to settle north, and opened the People’s Grocery Store on a patch of low-lying undeveloped land. Just a few months after their store opened—“The Up-to-Date Grocer for the Choicest Meats, Groceries, Country Produce”—a geyser of oil erupted into the sky just south of Tulsa. The discovery of the massive reservoir, which came to be known as the Glenn Pool, transformed the tiny frontier outpost into one of the fastest-growing locales in the United States. Boosters called it the “Oil Capital of the World” and “The Magic City.”

    Oil, however, played a secondary role in the black community’s success. Black laborers were systematically excluded from participating directly in the oil boom in 1920, there were nearly 20,000 white oil well workers, compared with only about 100 black ones. But black laborers and residents did benefit from the wealth that transformed Tulsa, becoming cooks, porters and domestic servants.

    And from the seed of People’s Grocery Store an entrepreneurial class took root on Greenwood Avenue. Robert E. Johnson ran a pawnshop and shoe store. James Cherry was a plumber, and later, the owner of a popular billiards hall. William Madden mended suits and dresses in the tailor shop he set up in his own home. An African American Episcopal church sprouted up just north of these businesses, and a Baptist church was opened just east. Homes fanned out around all the enterprises.

    Statehood was a cause for celebration for most white Oklahomans. In Hollis, a town in the state’s southwest corner, residents commemorate admission to the Union, 114 years ago. (Courtesy Western History Collections, University of Oklahoma Libraries, William Hollis no. 17)

    Among the most prominent early entrepreneurs was J.B. Stradford, a “state Negro” from Kentucky who had arrived in Tulsa before statehood. As a real estate agent, Stradford helped nurture the nascent neighborhood into a thriving black enclave filled with regal hotels, lively theaters and elegant clothing stores. He held a deep-seated belief that black people would find the most success working independently of white people and pooling their resources. “We find among the white people that they are not only prosperous individually but also collectively,” he said in a 1914 address to Greenwood entrepreneurs. “The white man has put his money together for the purpose of employing, elevating, and giving to those who are deserving a chance to arrive at prominence in the race of opportunities.”

    Greenwood’s leaders saw their fight for basic civil rights and economic prosperity as deeply linked. They married Booker T. Washington’s calls for economic uplift with W.E.B. Du Bois’ demands for social equality. “I came not to Tulsa as many came, lured by the dream of making money and bettering myself in the financial world,” wrote Mary E. Jones Parrish, a stenographer and journalist from Rochester, New York. “But because of the wonderful co-operation I observed among our people.”

    For Greenwood’s many accomplished businesswomen, political activism, community building and an entrepreneurial spirit were intertwined. Loula Williams’ Dreamland Theater hosted vaudeville acts and boxing bouts, but it also served as a headquarters for community leaders who worked to challenge the legal encroachments of Jim Crow. Carlie Goodwin managed a slate of real estate properties along with her husband, J.H. she also led a protest at the local high school when teachers tried to exploit black students’ labor by having them wash white people’s clothes. Mabel Little, a hairdresser who worked as a sales agent for Madam C.J. Walker, the black cosmetics titan, owned her own salon on Greenwood Avenue and started a professional organization for local beauticians.

    Black tribal members also played a crucial role in Greenwood. B.C. Franklin, a member of the Choctaw tribe, opened a law practice that would help protect black property rights after the violent white-led massacre that destroyed much of the neighborhood in 1921. (Franklin’s son, John Hope Franklin, became the distinguished scholar of African American history his grandson, John W. Franklin, was a longtime senior staff member at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.) Wealthy tribal members who had oil-producing wells on their allotments injected money back into the community. A.J. Smitherman, the fiery editor of the Tulsa Star, was not a freedman himself, but he formed a protective league meant to stop unscrupulous white lawyers from gaining guardianship over freedmen children.

    But Oklahoma’s white establishment stymied every effort by the state’s black citizens to improve their station. Stradford filed a lawsuit against the Midland Valley Railroad after being forced to sit in a Jim Crow car he lost the case in the Oklahoma Supreme Court. Hundreds of black Tulsans fought a local ordinance that prevented them from moving onto any block that was mostly white. The measure remained on the books. The two white-owned newspapers, the Tulsa Tribune and the Tulsa World, reported every crime they could uncover in the neighborhood they sometimes called “N-----town,” and ignored most black success stories.

    And then there was the violence. Black people had been navigating white violence for centuries, but World War I marked a change in how African Americans viewed their own citizenship. After thousands of black soldiers were shipped overseas to fight for their country and experienced life outside Jim Crow, black writers and activists began to call for resistance against white incursions at home. In 1919, during a bloody period that came to be called the “Red Summer,” race riots erupted in more than 30 American cities, from Omaha, Nebraska, to Washington, D.C. In Elaine, Arkansas, a few hundred miles from Tulsa, an estimated 200 black people were killed by white vigilantes who falsely believed that black sharecroppers were staging a violent uprising.

    Greenwood residents learned about such violence with growing trepidation, yet the neighborhood was thriving. By 1920, J.B. Stradford had opened his Stradford Hotel, a three-story, 68-room structure, at the time the largest black-owned and operated hotel in the country. The Dreamland Theater was on its way to becoming an empire, expanding to include venues in Muskogee and Okmulgee. Greenwood boasted a hospital, two theaters, a public library, at least a dozen churches, three fraternal lodges, and a rotating cast of restaurants, hairdressers and corner dives, serving about 11,000 people.

    A memorial to Tulsa massacre victims outside the Greenwood Cultural Center, which has long worked to preserve the district’s history. (Zora J Murff)

    On May 30, 1920, a year and a day before Greenwood began to burn, a man named LeRoy Bundy went to speak at the First Baptist Church, just off Greenwood Avenue. Three years earlier, Bundy had survived a riot in East St. Louis, Illinois, and had served time in prison afterward for supposedly orchestrating an attack on police officers. He appealed and the verdict was overturned. Bundy came to talk about his experiences as a witness to the destruction. Forty-eight people had been killed, more than 240 buildings destroyed. It would have been difficult for Greenwood’s residents, half a century removed from the Civil War, to imagine urban destruction in America on a larger scale.

    In retrospect Bundy’s visit appears as a warning. Three months later, two men were lynched in Oklahoma in a single weekend: a white man named Roy Belton in Tulsa, and a black man named Claude Chandler in Oklahoma City. Tulsa County Sheriff James Woolley called the mob attack under his watch “more beneficial than a death sentence pronounced by the courts.” The Tulsa World called the lynching a “righteous protest.” Only A.J. Smitherman and his Tulsa Star seemed to intuit how calamitous the collapse of the rule of law would be for black people. “There is no crime, however atrocious, that justifies mob violence,” he wrote in a letter to Oklahoma Gov. James B.A. Robertson.

    Smitherman was a staunch advocate for a muscular form of black self-defense. He chastised black residents in Oklahoma City for failing to take up arms to protect Claude Chandler. But, like the men who had ventured to Washington, D.C. to lobby President Roosevelt 13 years earlier, he believed that black people’s best hope for safety and success came in forcing the country to live up to its own stated promises. Smitherman and the other Greenwood residents bore the burden of living in two Americas at once: the idealized land of freedom and opportunity and also a land of brutal discrimination and violent suppression.

    Smitherman’s very name—Andrew Jackson—carried the weight of the contradiction. It was President Jackson who first banished Native American tribes and the black people they enslaved to Oklahoma in service to the interests of white settlers. But Smitherman could articulate better than most what it meant to be a patriot living outside the prescribed boundaries of patriotism: “[The American Negro] is not a real part and parcel of the great American family,” he wrote. “Like a bastard child he is cast off, he is subjected to injustice and insult, he is given only the menial tasks to perform. He is not wanted but is needed. He is both used and abused. He is in the land of the free but is not free. He is despised and rejected [by] his brothers in white. But he is an American nevertheless.”

    Greenwood’s residents, deprived of justice long before their neighborhood was burned to the ground, continuously called for their city and their country to honor its ideals and its plainly written laws. That demand resounded before the events of 1921, and it continues to echo long afterward.


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