Some of you remember Martha Raye very well. A comedian and singer, she, like Joe E. Louis had a large mouth and appeared with Bob Hope, and on other radio programs and usually played supportive roles in comedy films and musicals. She was also loved for the work she did entertaining troops in WWII and Korea .
Some things you probably did not know about
Most of the old time entertainers were made out of a lot sterner stuff than today’s crop of activists and whiners.
It was just before Thanksgiving ’67 and we were ferrying dead and wounded from a large GRF west of Pleiku , Vietnam .
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, our Captain said to Martha.
… Ms Ray, 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’ Colonel in the US Army Reserve, and on this is a ‘Caduse’ 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.