Ponca Military Academy (PMA) was established in 1940 by Colonel William V. Cox and his wife Blanche. The Academy stood for 34 years as an institution dedicated to the growth and development of young males. The PMA Memorial Park was established on June 18, 1988, which began with the restoration and relocation of the original flagpole. In the years following, a replica of the campus buildings, made using the original floor plans, was placed in Memorial Park. The key feature of the Park is a bronze sculpture, titled “Present Yourself With Pride,” which was commissioned, and sculpted by artist Mickey Wells, dedicated on September 26, 2008, and now stands near the former entrance to the Ponca Military Academy campus. The entry point off E. Hartford Avenue onto Summers Place is marked, on the northwest corner of the intersection by a tall metal post with decorative top and a “shingle” style sign inscribed: “Ponca Military Academy Memorial Park.” At the base of the post is a large gray granite monument, set on a concrete base and inscribed: “Ponca Military Memorial 1940-1974 Academy” with an etched representation of PMA buildings and 2 American Indian bird-like symbols. The Memorial features are located a bit south of the entry point, on the west side of the street, in a grassy area among trees. The Memorial display is oriented (faces) to the east. The site is easily distinguishable by a sculpture and flagpole. The features of the Memorial are accessed by 2 concrete walks leading west from the street sidewalk. The street sidewalk provides the best frontal view of the Memorial. The walks pass on either side and join behind the sculpture to permit its viewing from multiple vantage points. The joined walks then continue westward to other features. The bronze sculpture depicts a uniformed U.S. Army officer, standing in front of a young cadet standing on a chair. The officer is adjusting the cadet’s uniform, while the cadet looks up reverently at the officer. Both wear the shoulder sleeve insignia (patch) of the PMA, and the Academy’s shoulder cord. The cadet also wears a belt with the buckle marked “P.M.A.” and a distinctive PMA Service Cap Badge with the same marking. The sculpture is mounted on a large, polished reddish-brown granite block with a polished white granite cap. The block elevates the sculpture dramatically for viewing. The front (east) face of the block is inscribed: “Present Yourself With Pride” and has a PMA insignia between inscribed years “1940” and “1974”. Another inscription follows “In Honor of the cadets who attended Military Academy, who are proud of its heritage & contribution to the State of Oklahoma & the City of Ponca City.” There follows an additional inscription: “PMA Trust Board” which recognizes the entity responsible for providing the sculpture. The names of 5 officers and members of the Trust Board are named, together with the date of dedication – “Sept 26, 2008” and the artist. On the left (south) face of the block are inscribed the levels of sponsorship with the names of sponsors listed below, as follows: “Captain’s Troop” with 18 names; “Lieutenant Company” with 11 names. On the right (north) face is inscribed: “Sergeant Squad” with 21 names and 2 corporate sponsors. Behind (west of) the sculpture is a ground-mounted flat stone tablet with a molded concrete frame and bordered by red bricks. The tablet is etched with the title: “Ponca Military Academy Memorial” and displays etched images of the PMA buildings, 2 American Indian bird-like symbols, a bear, and is inscribed: “This original Academy flag pole stands here straight and tall, as a symbol of the spirit and tradition of Leadership, Discipline, and Loyalty, that embodied the Cadet Corps. This Park and flag pole is dedicated to the young men who marched and gathered around it, to the Faculty who guided them, and to the memory of PMA. God Bless Us All. Dedicated June 18, 1988”. Continuing west along the walk, leads to a wide entry point, en route to the flagpole. The entry point is marked by a low brick-walled circular structure, with a bricked pillar on each side, which tie-in with the side walls and extend to form a circle. Beds of decorative flowers are on both sides of the entry. The wall is divided at the center point of the circle, on the north and south, by 2 large boxwood bushes. The division separates the wall into 3 segments, with 2 short segments to the front and 1 half-circle (long) segment to the rear. Bricked pillars, capped with polished black granite plates are positioned at each end of the segments. Two such plates are inscribed: “Ponca Military Academy” and “Founder of PMA Mr. & Mrs. Col. William V. Cox 1940-1974”. Inside the walled area is a circular walk surrounding a circular grassed area with a flagpole. The flagpole flies the PMA Flag, and is set in a circular concrete base for support. The top face of the curved brick wall has 2 rows of engraved bricks. The interior row is set perpendicular to the run of the wall, and the exterior row is set along the run. The bricks on the interior row are engraved with the names of cadets and their years of attendance at PMA; bricks on the exterior row are engraved with the names of staff and faculty, and their rank if military, or perhaps their professional title if not. Immediately behind (west of) the back wall is a tall black metal fence, which encircles a display of white scale models of PMA buildings. Posted on the front of the fence is a sign inscribed: “Replicas of PMA School Buildings were built and erected by the Clifford & LaDonna Hayes Family Trust. The building on your left is the Gym. The center building is the living quarters for the Cadet Corp. The building on the right is the Administration, Dining Room, Kitchen, Library, Class Rooms, and Auditorium.” In the days leading up to the entry of the United States into World War II, during the war, and in its wake, students, ages 7-17, arrived at the Ponca Military Academy in increasing numbers from Oklahoma, and from across the United States, as well as from foreign countries. Patriotism was a key motivation for American enrollment during that period, and continued to be in subsequent years, although to a lesser degree over time. Eighteen cadets were enrolled in PMA for its first school term in September, 1940. Enrollment continued to grow through the years, and sometimes there was a waiting list for entry. During its operating years, enrollment averaged some 150 students in residence. During the last year the Academy was open, however, there were only 68 cadets enrolled. The Academy’s 56-acre campus was located about 1 ½ miles east of the city, and included: an Administration Building, Dining Hall, Classrooms, Library, Cadet Barracks, Gymnasium, parade ground, athletic fields, tennis courts, and a playground. The Administration Building and Cadet Barracks, were designed in the Spanish stucco architectural style, and originally built as a country club in the 1920s, by the Ponca City oil millionaire E.W. Marland. The Ponca Military Academy was structured with elementary, middle, and high school curricula. The junior (elementary) school included cadets in grades 3-6; the middle school included grades 7-9; and the high school included grades 10-12. All schools of the Academy were fully accredited by the Oklahoma Department of Education. Class sizes were small and permitted individual and special attention. A full slate of athletic activities was provided throughout the year. In addition, an indoor shooting range was available where cadets were taught the fundamentals of shooting and firearm safety, in a controlled, safe, well-lighted and sound-proof facility. A testimony to the effectiveness of the Academy’s marksmanship program was the numerous individual and team medals and trophies won by PMA cadets. Extra-curricular activities included a Drum and Bugle Corps, and a Drill Team, which performed in cities and towns in Oklahoma and southern Kansas, where they were often invited to play and march in parades, ceremonies, sporting events, and festivals. Life for cadets was all about a structured lifestyle with classes and study halls, discipline and military courtesy, uniforms and close haircuts, formations and drill and ceremonies, leadership development, physical training, grand social events, and loyalty. The Academy was closed in 1974. The PMA final graduation included 2 Seniors, and 15 Eighth graders. The culminating ceremony included the final performance of the Drum and Bugle Corps, and the Drill Team, which preceded a Full Dress Parade at noon on May 26, 1974. Between 1940 – 1974, PMA hosted some 5,000 cadets. The 56 acres of land on which the PMA was located, was sold in 1978. (Note: Ponca City is a city in Kay and Osage Counties, in north-central Oklahoma, some 18 miles south of the Kansas border, with a population of some 24,527 . It is the largest city in Kay County and is situated on the Arkansas River. The city was named after the Ponca Indian Tribe, which had been removed from Nebraska and resettled on allotted lands in Indian Territory [Oklahoma] from 1877-1880. The city’s economic development has been largely dependent on the boom and bust periods of the petroleum industry. It was a refining center for many years and the home of Marland Oil Company, and headquarters for Continental Oil Company [Conoco].)
Date of Installation:
June 18, 1988
Organization Responsible for Installation:
Ponca Military Academy Trust Board
Memorial War Era(s):
Ponca City, Kay County, Oklahoma 74604, at 1501 Summers Place, at the intersection of E. Hartford Avenue and Summers Place (Academy Road).
Published on January 1, 2018