Freedom For The Captive




















The Thunderbird Foundation supports the Freedom Shield Foundation. A non-profit 501c3 that works on an international level to free those enslaved in Human Trafficking. After ten years of operation, Freedom Shield Foundation has globally rescued, 3288 menwomen, and children, held captive by human traffickers. Forty percent of rescued women and children claim Native American or First Nation descent. This is the highest number per capita and the most vulnerable. Poverty among the northern tribes is on a scale I cannot begin to explain in words. I encourage, "you" to donate to the Freedom Shield Foundation. Click here: FFTC and read the amazing bio of my friend who freed 1200 Yazidi women and children, many held by ISIL, while working in the Middle East. 

You are missed, my friend...


David Allen Scholl


The Thunderbird
One of the greatest military divisions has been speculated by historians and researchers for many years. With war whoops and fixed bayonets, the "Thunderbirds," as quoted by General George S Patton-"one of the best if not the best divisions in the history of American arms." After many attempts by the Germans to hold Anzio, also known as "the battle of the factory," the Thunderbirds,  would fight with a resolve that would gain them the moniker-"The Rock of Anzio."

After years through first-hand accounts by author and researcher Mark Ellenbarger, the untold story of Sergeant Brummett Echohawk and his Band of American Indian Warriors comes to life for all who take in this incredible epic. Many have surmised the warrior spirit of this amazing unit, the humble courage, the honesty of leadership where duty was paramount. 

Brummett Echohawk, born in 1922 in Pawnee, Oklahoma to Elmer Price and Alice Jake Echohawk, would grow up watching the warriors of old as they painted on animal skins to create a pictorial record of their battles. Echohawk now wanted to live as his elders had, a warrior who would record the events of his experience on the field of battle.


While serving with Oklahoma's 45th Infantry Thunderbird Division during World War II, Echohawk would lead troops in some of the fiercest battles of the European campaign. Cited numerous times for bravery in combat, Echohawk received the Bronze Star, with V device, the Purple Heart with two oak leaf clusters and a posthumous Congressional Gold medal. The Echohawk Combat Sketches, produced during the war, on the field of battle, were published in the Army's Yank Magazine, NEA and syndicated in over eighty newspapers.

From the combat sketches, Ellenbarger's personal notes, and oral history, Ellenbarger would found "The Brummett Echohawk Project."


The project is dedicated to honoring the men and women who sacrificed life and limb that freedom abounds today. Echohawk's legacy is carried on as families are found and reunited through nothing more than the history found in his combat sketches. "Drawing Fire," tells this unembellished story of courage, never before shared. Readers will be awed as they learn of the traditions, history, and an amazing culture now shared with all.  


Let it be known that those involved in this project stand in awe of our young warriors today. Volunteering many times to again guard the freedoms our forefathers set forth never to be tread upon.  



About Author: Brummett Echohawk 


Following the war, Echohawk studied at the Detroit School of Art and Crafts and at the Art Institute of Chicago. He also attended the University of Chicago and studied journalism at the University of Tulsa. Echohawk was a former staff artist for the Chicago Daily Times and Chicago Sun-Times. He was widely known for his paintings of American Indians and the American West where he practiced a variety of styles. His landscape oil paintings were rendered in an impressionistic style with a palette knife and a Pawnee knife that he carried with him during the war. Echohawk's paintings have hung in art museums around the world, including Tulsa's Gilcrease and Philbrook museums. Echohawk also served as a former board member of the Gilcrease Museum. One of his most significant achievements was assisting Thomas Hart Benton with the mural "Independence and the Opening of the West" for the Truman Memorial Library in Independence, Missouri. Echohawk was also an actor, having performed in plays, television productions, and motion pictures. 





About Author:  Mark R Ellenbarger


Mark Ellenbarger, after retiring from a successful career in aviation/aerospace where he was responsible for instituting a multi-million dollar cost-savings initiative through a unique engineering program where Ellenbarger and his five-man team would develop an on-going program of great success. 


After retirement Ellenbarger would begin his pilgrimage as a researcher,  and author, sharing the story of a famous Native American, Brummett EchoHawk. 

Sergeant Brummett EchoHawk, stepping out of obscurity at the age of eighteen, joined the famed 45th Infantry Thunderbird Division. Echohawk would be sent to Europe to battle the Axis forces of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, at Sicily, Salerno, and Anzio.


Beginning in 1998 and before, utilizing first-hand accounts from oral and written history, Echohawk would share with Ellenbarger intimate details of combat that will put the reader on the battlefield as never before. Capture each moment in explicit detail of events as they happened, as it occurred, honor above and beyond. 


The author is careful not to lose his reader's in overly technical discussions as this is a memoir of service that honors the Thunderbirds... their patriotism, courage, loyalty, and respect for America. Drawing Fire brings home the devastation and horrors of war, again honoring the love of country by this unique unit that has never been told before.                                                     


                                        Operation Mistretta

The U.S. army, discovering Echohawk's" innate ability," would place him in a special covert sabotage unit, code-named Mistretta. Sometimes alone or with his first scout, "Cheyenne" Gilbert Curtis, missions would be carried out with the highest level of secrecy to obtain critical intelligence often using a special multilinguistic code to communicate. This code, developed at the American Indian Boarding Schools, before the war, has never been broken. Its characteristics make it virtually impossible to breach. 


In 2008 Echohawk would receive the Congressional Gold Medal posthumously, as a code talker. Thirty-three different tribes would participate as code talkers and were utilized as needed. This story has many facets used by American Indian soldiers never spoke of before. The primary story is a Band of American Indian Brothers, with a warring tradition from generations before. 

 After a stroke in 2005, the year before his passing, his request to Ellenbarger was, "tell the world what happened, how it happened, tell them what we did just as I am telling you." Soldiers of the highest order, Desperate Valor...


Ellenbarger would take this as his dying declaration, which was no small task, knowing Echohawk's penchant for historical detail. With Joe Echohawk present as a witness, "Drawing Fire," is now in publication bringing forth the only work of it's kind. 


Utilizing Echohawk's old home/studio as his point of contact and research, having grown-up there, watching him create his amazing work, this became the perfect location for the mindset of Ellenbarger. Drawing Fire contains an incredible pictorial account of over forty sketches of Echohawk's time on the battlefield where his talent would come to life leading men as a Sapper Team Leader at Sicily where he found some old paper and pencils in a blown-out house where he would begin documenting battle scenes of soldiers from both the Allied and Axis forces. 
















In the beginning, many sketches were confiscated and censored as not the way the army wanted to portray the war to the public. After further research by the War Department, his work was eventually approved by army intelligence and would reach publication in approximately eighty newspapers and journals around the world including Yank magazine and NEA. 


Through detailed notes, oral history, and letters from families, Ellenbarger would resurrect Echohawk's narrative in the tradition as an Elder to a son. 


The history of "B" company and the American Indian squad has been speculated by historians, researchers, and those simply interested in what it was like to go to battle alongside a band of American Indians. Drawing Fire is a must-read for all.



Postwar, Echohawk would work with artist Thomas Hart Benton on the mural, "Independence and the Opening of the West" at the Truman Memorial Library. One of his proudest works was the "Anzio Montage" which was displayed on board the Missile Cruiser USS Anzio. During the dedication, he met President Ronald Reagan. Later he would meet president Bill Clinton and in 1986 paint the portrait of Congressman James R Jones which is proudly displayed in the United States House of Representatives.  


Echohawk and Ellenbarger's work stands as a monument to all who sacrificed endlessly through some of the bloodiest battles of World War II.


Ellenbarger has made Fort Worth, Texas his home where he lives with his German Shepherd Rocko who entertains all who come to visit. 



Paper found in the blown-out house used by Echohawk in his first sketches on the field of battle.

                             Click sketch to open

Brummett EchoHawk and Mark R Ellenbarger 2005

About Trent Riley

Trent is on staff at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. Trent is a graduate of Oklahoma State University where he holds a Masters in American history. Trent came on board as the editor for Drawing Fire in 2017.  His interest in Brummett Echohawk was fueled while working at the 45th Infantry Museum in Oklahoma City during his college years. Trent and his wife Blakely are expecting their first baby and reside in Oklahoma City, Ok.    


About Ms. Elaine Childers

Ms. Elaine Childers is the daughter of Medal of Honor recipient Lt. Col, Ernest Childers. Elaine has been an advisor for the project and the work Drawing Fire since it's inception. Elaine has been critical in bringing forth the legacy of Brummett Echohawk and her father, Lt. Col Ernest Childers, Medal of Honor recipient. Elaine is a graduate of UCLA where she holds a Bachelor of Arts. Major in English. Masters of Arts in Folklore and Mythology. ABD for PhD in cultural studies. Elaine lives in Northeastern Oklahoma and is the spokesperson for the Childers family. 



Dr. Herman J. Viola is a curator emeritus at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. A specialist in the history of the American West, he served as director of the Museum's National Anthropological Archives in addition to organizing two major exhibitions for the Smithsonian. "Magnificent Voyagers," told the story of the United States Exploring Expedition of 1838-42, and "Seeds of Change" examined the exchange of plants, animals, and diseases between the Old and the New Worlds as a result of the Christopher Columbus voyages of discovery.

Prior to joining the staff of the Smithsonian Institution in 1972, he was an archivist at the National Archives of the United States, where he launched and was the first editor of Prologue: The Journal of the National Archives.


Dr. Viola's research specialties include the American Indian, the Civil War, and the exploration of the American West. He has authored numerous books on these topics, including Exploring the West, After Columbus, Warrior Artists, and The North American Indians. He is also the author of the middle school social studies textbook, Why We Remember.

His most recent book, Little Bighorn Remembered: The Untold Indian Story of Custer's Last Stand, was selected by both Book of the Month Club and the Quality Paperback Club, and was a primary selection of the History Club.

Dr. Viola received his B.A. and M.A. from Marquette University and his Ph.D. from Indiana University/Bloomington. He has an honorary doctor degree from Wittenberg University, Springfield, Ohio.

Dr. Viola and his wife Susan have three sons. They are residents of Falls Church, Virginia, and Bozman, Maryland.