A Salute to Martha Raye
1916 - 1994
[Courtesy of the Green Beret magazine, December 1970]
Thanks to Barbara and Dr. Rusty Lang for providing this gif!
Note: A few years ago when I was living in Texas, I read the following article written to the Editor of The Dallas Morning News in reply to earlier editorials against Martha Raye's military burial at Ft. Bragg. To many Vietnam Veterans, she held a special place in their hearts. I've saved this article because it is a moving tribute to "Col. Maggie" by a Vietnam Veteran. It is in remembrance and honor that I place this most befitting "salute" on my Sisters Page. (Paul, I hope you won't mind.....) -- Pam Young
"Not surprising to me. Actor, comedian, entertainer and patriot Martha Raye was provided Green Beret pallbearers and full honors when she was buried at Fort Bragg, N.C., military cemetery.
"She was commissioned in the Army Nurses Corps in 1939, in Vietnam she was a lieutenant colonel in the Reserve and she entertained troops in three wars. But she spent most of her time not in an entertainment troup but alone in the field in her Green Beret and dirty fatigues visiting the small Special Forces isolated A-Team border camps. Whoever was out or on patrol is where she slept in their cot.
"Known to all of Special Forces as Col. Maggie, knowledgeable and easy to talk to, she was revered and respected like no other. Anything you wanted passed to higher ups you could be sure it went as far as needed to get action.
"I was in the Army Special Forces for 20 years on two of my four tours to Vietnam and Laos (yes, there were some
of us who were sent four times). Maggie visited our camp on 'milk runs' without escorts and a more enjoyable time I have never had.
"The guest house with food and open bar in her Hollywood home was set aside for returning Vietnam veterans. A phone call and transportation was sent to pick you up.
"Wounded in Vietnam and shot at the bus station in San Francisco four hours after I left my family at Fort Bragg, N.C., by a drive-by, catching a military flight for my third tour to Vietnam with my right foot full of blood and the fact by now most of us had figured we were not going to be allowed to win -- the help Maggie gave us helped make life bearable.
"For the hundreds of us who operated the connecting A-Team border camps from North Vietnam to the Gulf of Siam -- for us old guys that sentiment and affection are hard to express: I say thank you, Maggie, and we love you."
Additional Comments by Bob "Wolf" Bunnell
"Yes, Paul was right. I had the pleasure (honor) to know this wonderful woman. I first met her in 1965 on the Island of Phu Quoc in the South China Sea where we had an A Camp that, believe it or not, looked like the one in the movie 'The Green Berets.' The north end of the island was something on the order of a few miles off the coast of Cambodia and our east coast (camp was on the west, naturally) was 45 miles from the RVN delta coast. Our support was definitely US. This was where Capt. Parent (Fragile As A Flower) was hit.
"I had prepped one of our CIDG soldiers for surgery on one of his thighs for a week old gunshot wound. I was rather perturbed that I couldn't get right to him. She asked me what was wrong and I told her that I had a soldier prepped and ready for surgery. Her eyes went wide(r) open and said 'Well, hell. Let's go, I am a nurse.' -- What a hell of an 'assistant'. I had the pleasure to see her again while on the MIKE FORCE and then when she brought 'BIG ABE's' sets of teeth (that's another story) back to Fort Bragg and made the General stop his staff car right in front of an NCO annex (bar) and sent in the aide to 'fetch' ABE. The General 'rolled' right along just like this sort of thing happened all the time.
"Thanx for jogging the old memory bank......."
Wolf, you're welcome and thank you very much for sharing your story with us! -- Pam Young