It was well recognized that Martha Raye endured less comfort and
more danger than any other Vietnam entertainer. Don't let the sun go
down without reading this about Martha Raye.
I was unaware of her credentials or where she is buried. Somehow I
just can't see Brittany Spears, Paris Hilton, or Jessica Simpson doing
what this woman (and the other USO women, including Ann Margaret
& Joey Heatherton) did for our troops in past wars.
Most of the old time entertainers were made of a lot sterner stuff than
today's crop of activists bland whiners. The following is from an Army
Aviator who takes a trip down memory lane:
"It was just before Thanksgiving '67 and we were ferrying dead and
wounded from a large GRF west of Pleiku. We had run out of body bags
by noon, so the Hook (CH-47 CHINOOK) was pretty rough in the back.
All of a sudden, we heard a 'take-charge' woman's voice in the rear.
There was the singer and actress, Martha Raye, with a Special Forces
beret and jungle fatigues, with subdued markings, helping the wounded
into the Chinook, and carrying the dead aboard.‘Maggie' had been
visiting her SF (Special Forces) 'heroes' out 'west'.
We took off, short of fuel, and headed to the USAF hospital pad at Pleiku.
As we all started unloading our sad pax's, a 'Smart Mouth' USAF Captain
said to Martha, “Ms Ray, with all these dead and wounded to process,
there will not be time for your show!"
To all of our surprise, she pulled on her right collar and said, “Captain, see
this eagle? I am a full 'Bird' in the US Army Reserve, and on this is a
'Caduceus' which means I am a Nurse, with a surgical specialty, now, take
me to your wounded!" He said, "Yes ma'am. follow me." Several times at
the Army Field Hospital in Pleiku, she would 'cover' a surgical shift, giving
a nurse a well-deserved break.
Martha is the only woman buried in the SF (Special Forces) cemetery at
Ft Bragg. Hand Salute! A great lady. I did not know this about Martha Ray.
I thought you might like it.