Counting Coup and becoming a war chief.

After spending the latter half of 1942 working in the naval ship yards in Bremerton, Washington, Medicine Crow joined the Army in 1943,[5] became a scout in the 103rd Infantry Division, and fought in World War II. Whenever he went into battle, he wore his war paint beneath his uniform and a sacred eagle feather beneath his helmet.[3]

Medicine Crow completed all four tasks required to become a war chief: Touching an enemy without killing him, taking an enemy’s weapon, leading a successful war party, and stealing an enemy’s horse:[6] He touched a living enemy soldier and disarmed an enemy when he turned a corner and found himself face to face with a young German soldier:

The collision knocked the German’s weapon to the ground. Mr. Crow lowered his own weapon and the two fought hand-to-hand. In the end Mr. Crow got the best of the German, grabbing him by the neck and choking him. He was going to kill the German soldier on the spot when the man screamed out ‘momma.’ Mr. Crow then let him go.[3]

He also led a successful war party and stole fifty horses from a battalion of German SS-officers,[8] singing a traditional Crow honor song as he rode off.[9]

He is the last member of the Crow tribe to become a war chief. Medicine Crow was interviewed and appeared in the 2007 Ken Burns PBS series The War, describing his World War II service.[3] Of his story, documentarian Ken Burns said, “The story of Joseph Medicine Crow is something I’ve wanted to tell for 20 years.”[10]

An old man in full feathered headdress plays a drum with a man in a suit watching

With Barack Obama in 2009
Born Joseph Medicine Crow
October 27, 1913
Near Lodge Grass, Montana, U.S.
Died April 3, 2016 (aged 102)
Billings, Montana, U.S.
Nationality American
Ethnicity Crow Nation
Alma mater Linfield College
University of Southern California
Occupation Tribal historian, war chief, anthropologist, author
Relatives Pauline Small (cousin); White Man Runs Him (step-grandfather)
Awards Presidential Medal of Freedom (ribbon).png Presidential Medal of Freedom
Military career
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch Seal of the United States Department of War.png United States Army
Years of service 1943–1946
Rank Private
Unit 103rd Infantry Division
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Bronze Star ribbon.svg Bronze Star
Legion Honneur Chevalier ribbon.svg Légion d’honneur

Joseph Medicine Crow-High Bird (October 27, 1913 – April 3, 2016), was an author and historian of the Crow


3 thoughts on “Counting Coup and becoming a war chief.

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