Billings VA clinics renamed for WWII Veterans - Montana VA Health Care System
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Billings VA clinics renamed for WWII Veterans

A group of government officials, tribal members and family members at the renaming ceremony.

U.S. Sens. Steve Daines and John Tester, and U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte, along with family members of Benjamin Steele and Joseph Medicine Crow, were on hand for the ceremony.

By MaryAnna Clemons
Thursday, March 5, 2020

The beat of the Native American drums reverberated through the halls of the clinic as the Crow Nation drummers proudly sang a war song.

Shortly after, the ceremony began with a Crow Nation prayer and the presentation of colors.

Hundreds were on hand to witness the long-awaited renaming ceremony of the Billings clinics for World War II Veterans Benjamin Steele and Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow, the last member of the Crow Tribe to become a war chief.

The Community Based Outpatient Clinic was renamed in honor of Medicine Crow and the Community Based Specialty Clinic was renamed in honor of Steele at the ceremony on Feb. 18.

Shirley Steele beamed with pride while talking about her late husband. He was born and raised in Roundup, Montana and joined the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1940. He was a Bataan Death March survivor and prisoner of war for more than three years. He died in September 2016 at the age of 98.

A.J. Not Afraid and Shirley Steele

A.J. Not Afraid, chairman of the Crow Nation, and Shirley Steele, wife of Benjamin Steele.

Tiara Medicine Crow, granddaughter of Joseph Medicine Crow, a Bronze Star holder, talked about her love of her grandfather and all that he meant to the Crow Nation.

A.J. Not Afraid, grandson-in-law of Joseph Medicine Crow and chairman of the Crow Nation, spoke to his history and accomplishments.

Joseph Medicine Crow who was born on the Crow Indian Reservation in eastern Montana and earned his master's degree from the University of Southern California in 1939. Medicine Crow was the first member of his tribe to attain that level of education. Medicine Crow joined the U.S. Army in 1943 and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his service. He died in April of 2016 at the age of 102. 

The legislation, which was signed by President Trump to rename the building, was co-sponsored by U.S. Sens.

“It's such a great made-in-Montana story - two Montana natives that went on and did heroic things in World War II,” Daines said.


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