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Martha Raye, buried at Ft. Bragg, Special Forces Cemetery

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by yanici, Jan 14, 2011.

  1. yanici

    yanici NES Member

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    This is something I copied from another forum. I never knew that Martha Raye was so great a person. She is, according to this thread, the only woman buried at the Special Forces Cemetery at Fort Bragg. This is actually two posts. Kinda long but worth reading.
    ******************************************************

    Most of the old time entertainers were made out of a lot sterner stuff than today's crop of activists and whiners.

    The following is from an Army Aviator friend 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 , 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 junglefatigues, 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 sad pax's, a 'Smart-Ass' USAF 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. "
    **************************************************************

    Noonie Fortin, Martha Raye's biographer told TruthOrFiction.com that Raye was lovingly called "Colonel Maggie" but the rank of Lt. Colonel and membership of the Green Beret Special Forces unit were both honorary. The entertainer was also an honorary Colonel in the United States Marine Corps.

    Fortin, who wrote "Memories of Maggie," also said that it was not uncommon for Ms. Raye to jump in to assist in caring for wounded serviceman throughout her history with the USO. Fortin said "She would often pull rank, pointing out the oak leaf or bird on her collar and Green Beret as well as the nurse's emblem. Likewise she often helped out in the surgical units and wards."

    The Department of Defense issues non-military identification cards to civilians who accompany armed forces to present in the event of capture. Each card contains the person's name and vital statistics such as height, weight, eye color and blood type. The cards also have what is called a "Geneva Conventions category." Category IV issued to such volunteers which is a rank equivalent to majors, lieutenant-colonels, colonels.

    Fortin told TruthOrFiction.com that "Maggie took it a step further and began wearing a uniform with the rank on it. As time progressed so did the honorary rank she held. By the time Vietnam ended she was a Lieutenant Colonel for the Army and Colonel for the Marines but wasn't really a member of either branch. Everything was honorary titles including the ribbons that she would often wear though some years later were actually awarded to her."


    Raye received numerous awards and commendations from the military in appreciation for her years of service and in 1993, President Bill Clinton awarded the entertainer with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

    Raye died on the 19th October, 1994 and was buried among veterans of many wars at the Fort Bragg Cemetery in Fayetteville, NC. Special request had been made for her to be buried there since she wasn't military.

    The Colonel Maggie web site is maintained by Fortin and has a impressive display of Martha Raye's biography and awards
     
  2. rwl1955

    rwl1955 NES Member

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    Yes, I knew she was very involved with SF units in Vietnam. She was a true patriot.
     
  3. PatMcD

    PatMcD NES Member

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    I remember her as Mel Scharple's mother on "Alice". She seemed like a tough ol' broad.
     
  4. smokey-seven

    smokey-seven NES Member

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    "For going to Vietnam, Col. Raye was considered a "hawk". Hollywood
    blacklisted her for more then ten years. Most of the old time entertainers
    were made out of a lot sterner stuff than today's crop of activists and
    whiners."

    How come Bob Hope was not blacklisted?
     
  5. bullseye

    bullseye Member

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    The mold she was made from is the mold that made this country great, too bad it has been broken for we need the "maggies" of the past more than ever now.
     
  6. Fixxah

    Fixxah NES Member

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    Interesting read. Thanks.
     
  7. pdm

    pdm NES Member

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    He'd been doing USO tours since WW2 and Korea.
     
  8. Big_Red

    Big_Red Member

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    She seems like a very special lady.
     
  9. Twigg

    Twigg Member

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    Please be a true story, please be a true story, please be a true story....

    That was a damm good read.
     
    1 person likes this.
  10. smokey-seven

    smokey-seven NES Member

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    pdm said in regards to my question as to why Bob Hope was not blacklisted
    Yea and I swear Martha was there in War II, but I know she was there in Korea.
     
  11. KBCraig

    KBCraig NES Member

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    According to the Wikipedia article, she also started doing USO tours in WWII.

    She was approved for burial in Arlington, but by her request was buried at Bragg.
     

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