Montana Veterans Affairs clinics named after 2 WWII veterans
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Two Veterans Affairs clinics in Montana were renamed to honor prominent area World War II veterans.
The two clinics in Billings were named after Benjamin Steele and Joseph Medicine Crow during a Tuesday ceremony.
The renaming followed legislation by U.S. Sens. Steve Daines and Jon Tester, and U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte.
“It’s so appropriate that we now have a facility that holds the names of Montana war heroes and it’s going to be a place where veterans can come and get healed,” Gianforte said.
Steele 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 prison of war in World War II for 1,244 days.
He died in September 2016 at age 98.
Medicine Crow was born on the Crow Indian Reservation in eastern Montana and earned his master’s degree from the University of Southern California in 1939, 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 was the last member of the Crow Tribe to become a war chief.
He died in April 2016 at age 102.
“Now we have the opportunity to have two people that these buildings are named after, that were amazing people that did amazing work with their lives on Earth, and will continue to be remembered here,” Tester said.
The state Veterans Affairs Health Care System serves more than 47,000 enrolled veterans at 17 facilities across Montana.