The 45th Infantry (“Thunderbird”) Division Museum in Oklahoma recently shared a gripping series of combat drawings by Brummett Echohawk.
An unofficial war artist, Echohawk was a Pawnee, Kit-Kahaki (warrior band) and “saw the elephant” firsthand as an infantryman with the 45th’s 179th Infantry Regiment, earning the Combat Infantry Badge, Bronze Star, and Purple Heart (3), after enlisting in the Oklahoma National Guard in 1940 at age 18.
His outfit was filled with depression-era cowboys, farmers, and more than a thousand Native Americans– recently brought back into the attention of many due to the recent Liberator series on Netflix– with Echohawk and William Lasley, a Potawatomie, leading a successful charge at Anzio Beach to take the “Factory” which insured that the Allied toe-hold at Anzio Beach was secure.
A number of his drawings made it into wartime publications.
The Thunderbirds suffered 26,449 casualties in 230 days of combat across Europe, some 187.7 percent of its authorized strength.
As for Echohawk, he went on to become a well-recognized artist specializing in Western and Native themes and is well-exhibited at the Gilcrease Museum and the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Center.
SGT Echohawk passed at age 83 in 2006 and is buried in Pawnee’s Highland Cemetery.
For more information, visit the Echohawk Project and pick up his books, including Drawing Fire: A Pawnee, Artist, and Thunderbird in World War II.