The Guitar Man

Beautiful as it is, the lure of the Oregon coast wasn’t enough to keep veteran Farrel Droke from his Oklahoma roots. After two years away, this past August he and his wife, Julie, returned to their longtime hometown of Norman, settling happily into a post-retirement routine that includes lots of music.

There’s Only One Word for This Veteran’s Life Path

Mark Braley has spent his entire life protecting and serving others–as a member of the U.S. armed forces, an officer for the Norman Police Department, and now as the new veterans’ services coordinator for the Cleveland County Health Department. Plus, he’s gotten to blow up a lot of things along the way! Originally from Ardmore, Braley graduated from Ardmore High…


U.S. Marine Corps veteran Dick Clark is quick to insist that he isn’t “interesting enough” to be the subject of any article worth reading. His humble nature belies the fact that he is the recipient of a Purple Heart for his service in Vietnam, is an accomplished martial artist and motorcycle aficionado, and has devoted his retirement to helping veterans…

Rarchar Tortorello

Rarchar S. Tortorello laughs when he says that he could write a book about his life, but a quick conversation reveals just how true that statement is. Tortorello spent 20 years in the U.S. Air Force (from 1987 to 2007), taking him on adventures in the United States and abroad. Since his retirement from the military, Tortorello has settled in…

Dale Graham

In Oklahoma alone, over 15,000 people suffer from Parkinson’s Disease, a progressive neurologic disorder affecting movement by causing tremors, rigidity, slow movement and balance issues, but it also affects every other part of the body as well. It's a debilitating disease, and currently there are no treatment options available to stop the progression, nor is there is there a cure.


As a contractor for several years in the U.S. Army and the Army National Guard and then an adviser to the California and Oklahoma departments of veteran affairs, Jonathon Lunardi found his calling serving members of the military and veterans, particularly veterans facing the often-tough transition period immediately following military service.

From Military Intelligence to Art Center Director

What does a duck, a four-star general, a sculptor and a former college professor have in common? They all reside within the world of Firehouse Arts Center Executive Director Douglas Shaw Elder. Elder, who joined the Firehouse Arts Center in 2007, came to Norman in a long, circuitous way reminiscent of his mixed-media sculptures that line his office walls.

Bullets and Bombs and Missiles…Oh My!

Very few people manage to have dual careers, especially if one of those careers involves service in the United States Armed Forces. Barry Roberts isn’t your ordinary individual, however. By day he’s an appellate attorney, helping clients wend their way through Oklahoma’s higher court system. For nearly 35 years, he also served his country as both an active and reserve…

A New Kind of Home Front:

Brian and Laura Ables credit the U.S. Air Force with not only showing them the world, but helping to bring their family together. Laura, a Norman native, spent four years as a staff sergeant working as an intelligence analyst. Brian, a native of Springfield, Missouri, was a staff sergeant who worked in transportation as a protocol driver for nine years.…

Flight of a Lifetime

The Oklahoma Honor Flights traces its origins to the 16 million U.S. men and women who served their country in World War II–among them Al Willoughby, who had served in that war as a member of the U.S. Army Air Corps. Upon retirement, he adopted Midwest City as his home. In 2009, he was invited to Washington, D.C., with a…