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Published on Wednesday, June 25, 2008.
Last modified on 6/25/2008 at 3:00 pm

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Crow chief honored by French, American dignitaries

Of The Gazette Staff

GARRYOWEN - Today is a very good day for Joe Medicine Crow.

The Crow Indian warrior chieftan was awarded the Bronze Star with valor from the U.S. Army and made a knight of the French Legion of Honor during ceremonies here today.

The awards recognize his service with the Army during World War II.

Medicine Crow counted four coups during the war and became a warrior chief when he returned home.

"In my old age I feel that all the things I did in Europe have finally been recognized and given awards for, so I am quite pleased," Medicine Crow said after the ceremonies.

The French consul general from San Francisco awarded Medicine Crow the Legion of Honor, which he called the highest distinction of his country.

"The French Republic recognizes his great heroism during World War II as well as his outstanding accomplishments since," said Pierre-Francois Mourier.

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Paul Funk awarded the Bronze Star to Medicine Crow.

Throughout his life, Medicine Crow has shown "the fixed resolve not to quit" and the tenacity of an excellent soldier, he said.

At 94, Medicine Crow is the oldest living veteran of the Crow Tribe.

In a booming voice, Medicine Crow recounted the four war deeds that made him a warrior chief to about 200 spectators.

Here are the coups that Medicine Crow counted.

• He led a war party by taking a detail of soldiers, under fire, to retrieve dynamite to use to attack German guns.

• He touched the first fallen enemy and stole his weapon when Medicine Crow and a German met on a street in France. Medicine Crow knocked down the German and kicked his rifle away, counting coups twice.

• He entered an enemy camp and stole horses at a farm where German officers were holed up for the night. Medicine Crow stealthily entered a barn and corral, mounted a horse and, with a Crow war cry, ran the horses toward the Americans.

On Wednesday, in Crow tradition, he led the dance while an honor song was performed for him by a Crow drum group.

Medicine Crow has been nominated to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Wednesday's ceremonies also included remarks from Gov. Brian Schweitzer spoke and a National Guard helicopter fly over.

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