Lee Gilstrap

Inducted 2004

Lee Gilstrap

Lee F. Gilstrap, as a 17-year-old bugler with the 142nd Infantry during World War I, threw down his bugle and grabbed a rifle from a dead comrade. He then captured 13 German soldiers, forcing them to carry wounded Americans back to aid stations. Ignoring officers' urgings for him to take cover, he had spent the day assisting wounded, carrying messages and braving heavy enemy fire. The day ended when he was badly burned by gas from shellfire. Ultimately, after spending five months in hospitals in Great Britain, Gilstrap received the Distinguished Service Cross and Silver Star medals for his actions in the Great War.

Gilstrap had spent most of his life around military units with his father, who was an officer in the first Oklahoma military unit formed after statehood. He lied about his age and went to Europe when he was only 16 years old. After the war, he continued his service in the Oklahoma National Guard while attending college at Oklahoma A&M. In college he became the president of his fraternity, student senate and of his junior class. Gilstrap also played basketball and was a trainer for the football team.

After graduating from college, he was a coach and later principal of Putnam City High School, In 1927 he joined the staff of the Oklahoma Military Academy at Claremore, where he became the school's commandant. He entered World War II with the 45th Division and continued service as executive officer of the European Theater provost marshal, retiring in 1946 with the rank of Colonel after service in Iceland.

Gilstrap returned to Oklahoma A&M where he taught speech, and for 15 years served as a faculty adviser to Kappa Sigma Fraternity and the student senate. Always modest about his achievements, Gilstrap remained an outstanding role model in teaching leadership and gentlemanly development. He died in Claremore in 1987.