Warriors was commissioned for the Oklahoma Judicial Center as a representation in honor of notable Oklahomans with ties to the justice system who served in the armed forces. Oklahoma’s Warriors protected and defended the Constitution, just as the Judiciary protects and defends the Constitution on a daily basis.
Justice Rudolph Hargrave served in the Army Air Force in World War II. He was appointed to the Supreme Court of Oklahoma on October 10, 1978, and served as Chief Justice in 1989 and 1990 and again in 2001 and 2002. During his first tenure as Chief, he was elected as Vice President of the National Conference of Chief Justices. He retired from the Court in 2010 after serving thirty-two years in office.
Lieutenant General Thomas Stafford graduated from the United States Naval Academy and received a commission in the United States Air Force. He was selected by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration as an astronaut in 1962. Stafford has flown six rendezvous in space and logged over 507 hours in space flight. He has flown 127 different types of aircraft, including four different kinds of spacecraft. He holds honorary law degrees from the University of Cordoba, Argentina, and Western State University in Los Angeles.
Justice Robert E. Lavender served in the United States Naval Reserve in the South Pacific during World War II. His service began in 1944, the same year he graduated from Catoosa High School. He practiced law in Claremore before being appointed to the Supreme Court of Oklahoma in 1965. He served as Chief Justice in 1979 and 1980. He retired from the Court in 2007 after serving forty-two years – longer than any other justice in Oklahoma history.
Justice Denver Davison served for eighteen months in the Army Signal Corps during World War I. Davison practiced law in Colgate and Ada before being appointed to the Supreme Court in 1937. He served forty-one years on the Court, including three terms as Chief Justice. Davison died April 28, 1983.
Justice Tom Colbert served in the United States Army in 1975. He was appointed to the Supreme Court of Oklahoma in 2004 and was elected to serve as Chief Justice of the Court for 2013 and 2014. He was the first African American appointed to the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals, the first African American appointed to the Supreme Court, and the first African American Chief Justice for the Supreme Court of Oklahoma.
Justice John B. Doolin was a Captain in the field artillery during World War II in the China/Burma theater. He was appointed to the Supreme Court of Oklahoma in 1972 and had worked in private practice in Lawton and Alva prior to that. He served as Chief Justice of the Court in 1987 and 1988. He died in 1993.
Major General Rita Aragon holds the distinction of many “firsts” in her career: first woman of Native American ancestry to become a general officer, first female commander of the Oklahoma Air National Guard (and first female to command any state’s Air National Guard), and first female secretary of military and veterans affairs for Oklahoma. Aragon has both Choctaw and Cherokee ancestry and has served as keynote speaker for the Sovereignty Symposium.
Justice Don Barnes served three years in the United States Navy, stationed at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba during World War II. He was appointed to the Supreme Court of Oklahoma in 1972 and served until his retirement as Chief Justice in 1985. He died March 3, 2011.
Justice William A. Berry was elected Payne County attorney after graduating from the University of Oklahoma School of Law in 1940. In September 1941, he was commissioned as a Navy intelligence officer and sent to the Philippines. He was taken prisoner when Japanese forces captured Corregidor Island in May 1942, but escaped the following month. He was taken in by a local family and lived in hiding for three months. When he feared they would be executed for harboring him, he surrendered. He was then sent to Bilibid prison. He spent much of the next three years as a “special prisoner” – forced to sit with his knees drawn up, arms at his side, without speaking for days at a time. Berry was liberated from Bilibid by American forces on February 3, 1945. Berry ended his service as a lieutenant commander and was awarded the Purple Heart, Bronze Star, two Presidential Unit Citations and two Battle Stars. He detailed his time in the Philippines in the book, Prisoner of the Rising Sun. He was elected to the Supreme Court of Oklahoma in 1958 and retired from the Court in 1978. He died in 2004.
Lawrence Hart was the first Native American to become a commissioned military jet pilot. He was named a Peace Chief of the Cheyenne-Arapaho Nation on the same day he broke the sound barrier as a United States Marine Corps pilot. After being named as Peace Chief, he left the military and went on to become a Mennonite pastor. He delivers the prayer each year for the Sovereignty Symposium.
Harvey Pratt served in the United States Marine Corps with an air rescue team in Vietnam from 1962 to 1965. After completing his military service, he began working in the criminal justice system. He’s now considered one of the leading forensic artists in the United States, with his drawings and soft tissue reconstructions assisting in thousands of arrests.
Justice Steven Taylor served in the United States Marine Corps from 1970 to 1978. He was appointed to the Supreme Court of Oklahoma in 2004 and served as Chief Justice of the Court in 2011 and 2012.
Justice Marian Opala served with the Polish Underground in opposition to Nazi forces during World War II. He was appointed to the Supreme Court of Oklahoma in 1978 and served until his death, October 11, 2010. He served as Chief Justice of the Court in 1991 and 1992.
Justice James Edmondson served in the United States Navy from 1967 to 1969. After completing Officer Candidate School and Naval Justice School, he was assigned to the USS Tripoli (LPH-10), a helicopter carrier stationed in San Diego. Ensign Edmondson served as a line officer during the Tripoli’s nine-month deployment off the northeast coast of Vietnam. During that time, his duties included Officer of the Deck, Weapons Officer and Legal Services. He completed active duty in 1969 as a Lieutenant. Edmondson was appointed to the Supreme Court of Oklahoma in 2003 and served as Chief Justice in 2009 and 2010.
John Kauger served as a Staff Sergeant in United States Army during World War II and was highly decorated for gallantry in action. Kauger was part of the 86th Infantry, Black Hawk Division, which assisted General Patton in rescuing the Lipizzaner Stallions in 1945. His daughter, Yvonne, was appointed to the Supreme Court of Oklahoma in 1984. John Kauger died February 20, 1993.
Justice Robert D. Simms served in the United States Navy during World War II. He has the unique distinction of serving on the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals (1971-1972) before being appointed to the Supreme Court of Oklahoma. He retired from the Court in 1999 and died in 2008.
Justice Hardy Summers served in the Judge Advocate division of the United States Air Force from 1957 to 1960. He was appointed to the Supreme Court of Oklahoma in 1985 and served as Chief Justice in 1999 and 2000. He retired from the Court 2004 and died in 2012.
Justice Floyd Jackson served in the United States Army in the Judge Advocate General Corps during World War II from 1942 to 1946. He was elected to the Supreme Court of Oklahoma in 1955. He served as Chief Justice in 1966 and 1967. He retired from the Court in 1972 and died in 1974.
Judge Hez Bussey served as a sergeant in the 31st Infantry Division during World War II. He was a survivor of the Bataan Death March and a prisoner of the Japanese for three and a half years. He received the Purple Heart, Combat Infantry Badge, the Oklahoma Medal of Valor and the Philippine Defense Medal. He earned his law degree from the University of Oklahoma and served as Cleveland County Attorney before being appointed to the Court of Criminal Appeals in 1960. He retired from the Court in 1989 and died in 1994.
Commander John Herrington served as a United States Naval test pilot before being selected by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for the astronaut program in 1996. He flew on a 2002 mission aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour, logging 330 hours in space and completing three spacewalks, totaling 19 hours and 55 minutes. He served as a speaker for the Sovereignty Symposium several times.
Artist Harvey Pratt, a Peace Chief of the Cheyenne Tribe, graduated from Saint Patrick’s Indian Mission School in Anadarko, Oklahoma, the same school that produced noted Kiowa Six artists James Auchiah, Spencer Asah and Stephen Mopope. Pratt continued his education at Central State University in Edmond, Oklahoma, the University of Virginia and Oklahoma State University in Oklahoma City. After his military service, he worked for the Midwest City Police Department before joining the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) in 1972. A self-taught artist, Pratt works in many media, including oil, acrylic, watercolor, metal, clay, and wood. He designed the Cheyenne and Arapaho Veterans’ Memorial in Concho, Oklahoma, and was named Honored One of the 2005 Red Earth Festival. In addition to thousands of suspect sketches, his work also appears on the official OSBI seal and its badges.
Source: Personal correspondence, February 2013; “Lawton Judge Third to Enter Justice Contest,” The Oklahoman, March 6, 1954; “Floyd Jackson, High Court Justice Announces Plan to Retire in January,” The Oklahoman, August 22, 1972; “Former Justice Rites Set,” The Oklahoman, November 9, 1974; “Justice to Quit After 41 Years, Longest Ever,” The Oklahoman, June 16, 1978; “Longtime Justice Davidson Dies at 91,” The Oklahoman, April 29, 1983; “Retired High Court Justice Doolin Dies,” The Oklahoman, March 17, 1993; Berry, William: Prisoner of the Rising Sun, University of Oklahoma Press, 1993; “Hez Bussey,” The Oklahoman, March 16, 1994; “Honoree Also Fights Crime,” The Oklahoman, May 29, 2005; “Appellate Judge Dies at 81,” The Oklahoman, February 2. 2008; “AARP Honors Native Elders,” Native Times, November 2009; “2005’s Lawrence Hart’s Visions of Peace,” The Mennonite, January 2011; Don Barnes, The Oklahoman, March 6, 2011; “Aragon Proud of Native American Heritage,” Community Connection, September 2012; “Service Set for Former State Justice,” The Oklahoman, September 25, 2012; National Aeronautics and Space Administration website jsc.nasa.gov/bios/htmlbios/Stafford-tp & jsc.nasa.gov/bios/htmlbios/herring