Martha Raye

14 Feb

Thought you’d like this.  For some, this might simply be a reminder.

Martha Raye - still.JPG

It was well recognized that Martha Raye endured less comfort and more danger than any other Vietnam entertainer.

Martha Raye

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 activist 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 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 sad pax’s, a ‘Smart Mouth’ 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’ in the US Army Reserve, and 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 grave(click on image)

Her final years were plagued by ill health. She suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and had lost both legs in 1993 from poor circulation. She died in Los Angeles at 78 of pneumonia on October 19, 1994 after a long history of cardiovascular disease.

In appreciation of her work with the USO during World War II and subsequent wars, special consideration was given to bury her in Arlington National Cemetery on her death, but on her request she was buried with full military honors in the Fort Bragg, North Carolina post cemetery as an honorary colonel in the U.S. Marines and an honorary lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army.

Martha is the only woman buried in the Special Forces cemetery at Ft. Bragg.

Hand Salute! To a great lady…


Posted by on February 14, 2014 in Uncategorized


9 responses to “Martha Raye

  1. Anon

    February 14, 2014 at 7:36 am

    Go to this link,

    I would like to see any A or even B-lister out of Hollywood today even try to measure up to this crowd, and there was a lot of them. Whether they were on the front lines or just there for the purpose to entertain the Greatest Generation. What they did was invaluable.

    There are some on the above link that I had absolutely no idea that they served, so pour a cup of joe, sit back and see what they were made of back then.

    • The Soffitrat

      February 14, 2014 at 6:15 pm

      Very interesting. And truthful as far as I can tell. Captain Kangaroo was the test. They got it right!

  2. Dannyboy53

    February 14, 2014 at 11:22 am

    What a Classy Lady! Hollywood women (and men) could learn a lot from her but 99.5% of them aren’t fit to shine her boots!

    I found her comment made to the ‘Hollywood Reporter’ in a 1984 interview very refreshing:

    “I am a Republican because I believe in the constitution, strength in national defense, limited government, individual freedom, and personal responsibility as the concrete foundation for American government. They reinforce the resolve that the United States is the greatest country in the world and we can all be eternally grateful to our founding fathers for the beautiful legacy they left us today.”

    “Hand Salute! To a great lady…” indeed.

    • The Soffitrat

      February 14, 2014 at 5:07 pm

      Never got to see Joey. Always seemed to be busy at the time. 🙂 And she was living in my home town back then!

      • Dannyboy53

        February 14, 2014 at 7:00 pm

        As in Heatherton?

        • The Soffitrat

          February 14, 2014 at 8:11 pm

          🙂 She was married to Rentzel at the time and hanging around Dallas. I can see why she went to Vietnam so often! It was probably safer.

  3. Dannyboy53

    February 14, 2014 at 10:51 pm

    Yeah, I remember her very well!

    • The Soffitrat

      February 14, 2014 at 11:16 pm

      Sweet! A fox.

      • Dannyboy53

        February 14, 2014 at 11:53 pm

        Yes, she was definitely a real “looker” in her younger days. Second to my wife of course. (But you know I have to say that in case Mary reads or I’m in some seriously deep stuff)

        Joey must be near 70 years old, but she is still a good looking woman.


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