Tribal historian John Medicine Crow, grandson of White Man Runs Him, Custer's Crow scout at Little Bighorn, is also a World War II hero
WORLD WAR II HERO
Retired U.S. Senator Alan Simpson, R-Wyoming, joined Senator Jon Tester in Billings March 19 to announce Tester’s nomination of Dr. Joe Medicine Crow to receive one of the highest honors bestowed by the United States — the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Medicine Crow, 94, is a lifelong resident of Lodge Grass, Montana, who served in the Army during World War II. "He’s a genuine hero of this world,” said Simpson of Medicine Crow’s tour of duty.
White Man Runs Him, Custer's scout at Little Bighorn and Joe's grandfather
While in Europe, Medicine Crow accomplished four “war deeds,” making him a war chief of the Crow Nation. His war deeds included hand-to-hand combat with an enemy (a German soldier), leading troops into enemy territory and capturing enemy horses. Medicine Crow captured 50 horses from a Nazi camp.
His grandfather, Yellowtail, taught him to be a warrior through vigorous physical training, said Medicine Crow. “Running, swimming, riding horses, rolling in the snow, walking barefooted in the snow. All that came in handy during World War II,” he said.
He said that when he stole the horses, “I got on a horse and chased the others out. Being an old farm boy, I sure enjoyed riding a horse. I even sang a song.”
Medicine Crow described entering a German concentration camp. “Some were dead in bed. Bodies were stacked up behind the building,” he said in sadness.
During his remarks, Medicine Crow commended Chris Kortlander, owner and developer of Garryowen, for taking a ghost town and reclaiming it. It is on sacred ground where his ancestors said, “It is a good day to die,” he said. “Now it’s a lively place.”
The acclaimed documentary series “The War” by film maker Ken Burns, features Medicine Crow.
Medicine Crow is known as an accomplished scholar, teacher, writer and historian. He wrote the script for the Custer’s Last Stand Reenactment, staged in Hardin, Montana, every June.
He was the first Crow Indian to earn a Master’s Degree, but his PhD research was side-tracked by his World War II service. He has since earned three honorary PhDs and has written several books about Crow history and culture.
Crow Tribal Chairman Carl Venne thanked the senators. “What really gets into your heart today is how proud he is to be a Crow. It sets a good example for all the tribal members. I am very proud of him. We all consider him as a chief because of his deeds. To be recommended for one of the highest honors is important to all the tribal members and all the Montanans,” said the chairman. “In Montana, we are fortunate to have many present-day reminders of a land and a people of former times,” Tester wrote in his nomination letter to President George Bush. “Joe is not only one such reminder, but a shining case.”
A longtime friend of Simpson, Medicine Crow was instrumental in developing the Plains Indian Museum at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming.The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian honor given by the President of the United States. Although it is a civilian medal, it is often awarded for military heroism. Montana recipients include Senator Mike Mansfield and actress Martha Raye, who was born in Butte.
Tester will now send his nomination, along with letters of support from Senator Max Baucus, Governor Brian Schweitzer, former Senator Conrad Burns, Senator Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, and retired Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, R-Colorado, to President Bush. The President is expected to announce recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom later this year.
preview of Ken Burn's "The War"