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Native American Vet Earns Presidential Medal of Freedom

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 12, 2009 – A 95-year-old Native American veteran who wore sacred tribal symbols with his uniform during World War II was among 16 people to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom today.

President Barack Obama presented the country’s highest civilian honor to Joe Medicine Crow during a White House ceremony.

Medicine Crow, the oldest Crow Indian, earned the distinction of war chief for his valiant service during World War II.

“Wearing war paint beneath his uniform and a sacred feather beneath his helmet, Joseph Medicine Crow completed the four battlefield deeds that made him the last Crow war chief,” Obama noted today.

Obama called Medicine Crow a “warrior and living legend,” noting that his grandfather was a scout who served for Gen. George Custer during the Battle of Little Bighorn.

Medicine Crow became the first member of his tribe to earn a master’s degree, and now is a highly regarded historian who lectures extensively about the battle. He serves on the board of the Custer Battlefield Museum.

The president called Medicine Crow a “symbol of strength and survival” and said his life “reflects not only the warrior spirit of the Crow people, but America's highest ideals.”

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