It was well recognized that Martha Raye
endured less comfort and more danger than any other Vietnam entertainer.
The most unforgivable oversight of TV is that her shows were not taped.
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 bland activists and 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 SF
(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 ‘heroes’ out ‘west’.
We took off, short of fuel, and headed to the USAF hospital pad at Pleiku.
As we all started unloading, a ‘Smart Mouth’ USAF Captain said to Martha, “Ms Raye, with all these dead and wounded to process, there would 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