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"Martha Raye" born Margaret Y Reed/ Actress/Bird Col. US Army
1997 | N. C.
Martha Raye (Born Margaret Reed);
The most unforgivable oversight of TV is that her shows were not taped.
This is a great story about a great woman.
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 out of a lot sterner stuff than today's crop of 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 unloadingour sad pax's, a 'Smart Ass' USAF Captain said to Martha.... Ms Ray, with all these dead and woundedto process, there would not be time for your show! To all of our surprise, she pulled on her right collarand 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 mam....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.
Martha Raye- Pres. Medal of Freedom "Col Maggie"
1993 | Washington, DC
US Army Reserve; Bird Col. Martha Raye; *** MAGGIE *** (August 27, 1916 – October 19, 1994)
Raye was 78 years of age, and residing in Los Angeles at the time of her death.
On November 2, 1993, Martha Raye was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, by President Bill Clinton, for her service to her country. The citation reads:
"A talented performer whose career spans the better part of a century, Martha Raye has delighted audiences and uplifted spirits around the globe. She brought her tremendous comedic and musical skills to her work in film, stage, and television, helping to shape American entertainment. the great courage, kindness, and patriotism she showed in her many tours during *** World War II *** the Korean Conflict, and the Vietnam Conflict earned her the nickname 'Colonel Maggie.' The American people honor Martha Raye, a woman who has tirelessly used her gifts to benefit the lives of her fellow Americans. "Awarded for
"An especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."
(Barbi Ennis Connolly - WWII Historical Researcher)