Senators Tester, Simpson announce Presidential Medal of Freedom nominee

Tester nominates Dr. Joe Medicine Crow for honor

(BILLINGS, Mont.) – Retired U.S. Senator Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., today joined Senator Jon Tester in Billings 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, Mont., who served in the Army during World War II.  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 of them from a Nazi camp).

Medicine Crow was recently featured in the acclaimed documentary series The War by filmmaker Ken Burns.

Medicine Crow is an accomplished scholar, teacher, writer and historian.  He was the first Crow Indian to earn a Master's Degree, but his PhD research was sidetracked by his World War II service.  Medicine Crow has since earned three honorary PhDs and has written several books about Crow history and culture.

"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 Bush.  "Joe is not only one such reminder, but a shining case."

Medicine Crow is a longtime friend of Simpson's.  He was instrumental in developing the Plains Indian Museum at the renowned Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyo.

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 received numerous letters of support for his nomination of Medicine Crow from leaders around the country.  In addition to a letter from Simpson he received letters of support from Sen. Max Baucus, Gov. Brian Schweitzer, filmmaker Ken Burns, Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, and retired Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, R-Colo.

Tester will now send his nomination, including all letters of support, to President Bush.  The President is expected to announce recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom later this year.

Tester is a member of the Senate Indian Affairs and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees.  Simpson is a former chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.