Martha Raye
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  1. #1
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    Martha Raye

    I thought I had posted my two stories and my tribute to Martha Raye, but appearantly they were among the many lost when I am composing and have a power surge or blackout.

    I'm including a post I found someplace on Martha Raye. I would appreciate it if other NamVets would respond with their memories of her. I'll come back later and add mine.
    I was an enlisted Marine with 1st Shore Party Battalion in the Chu Lai area in 1966-67, and Martha Raye visited the area twice during my tour of duty, performing in a large motor pool lot at Force Logistics Support Group Bravo, if memory serves me.

    On her second visit, about six months after the first, I was off-duty from the battalion communication section and assigned as a member of her security detail. The show was great, but her energy and humor didn't stop when the show was over.

    During her show, a series of med-evac choppers landed at Bravo
    Company, 1st Med Bn, which was close to the FLSG-B motor pool lot and, soon after, a request was made over Miss Raye's microphone for Type A and Type O blood. There was a ripple of activity in the audience but, to spur it along, she said, "Well, what are you guys waiting for?" A great many of the audience seemed to stand, and she added, "Hey, I don't want all of you to go...just
    the guys with the right blood type! This show's not over yet.
    You ain't gettin' off that easy!" There was a loud response of
    applause. The line that formed for blood donors was an endless
    que. No shortage of volunteers, I assure you.

    When the show was over, Miss Raye was surrounded by appreciative Marines and SeaBees, but managed to reach the triage area of B-Med, where several of us were not permitted to enter, and we were told to stand by outside. Miss Raye stepped in and, I was later told, was understandably regarded as something of an unwanted intrusion by some of the medical personnel inside. She informed them she was a nurse, and they reportedly did not believe her, apparently assuming it was a bit of Hollywood grandstanding. She was indeed a nurse, and an officer in the US Army reserves.

    About 20 minutes passed and I was instructed by a young lieutenant to find Miss Raye and give her a message, a folded note, from a member of her staff. I stepped inside the chaotic tent, and it took a moment to find her, but she was in the thick of the patient care activity, and she was helping, not being ornamental. She seemed well-oriented to the ER care environment and did not introduce herself as Martha Raye, but busied herself with the wounded. I saw her kneeling with gloved hands and a pair of bandage scissors, assisting a Navy corpsman, cutting away a bloody trouser leg from a wounded Marine's lower leg. I interrupted her when I could and handed her the note. She read it and commented with exasperation, Yeah, yeah, I know. Tell him I'm powdering my nose and I'll be out in a while, will ya?"

    One Marine propped himself up on an elbow and stammered,
    "Hey, you're...uh...uh.." She shook her head and said,
    "Naw, I just look like her."

    Her security element remained and waited, of course, until she
    finally emerged (which seemed quite some time later). She was
    obviously fatigued, but she smiled and said to no one specifically,
    "Places to go, things to do. Let's go, I think I need a drink."
    A few vehicles waited to take Miss Raye, her small staff and
    their equipment to 1st MarDiv headquarters, where quarters were
    arranged. She was to depart from the Chu Lai airstrip for
    Da Nang the next day.

    As two of us helped her into the jeep, she stepped up and her
    skirt lifted a bit, which I found momentarily distracting. She
    smiled and joked, "Not a bad pair of legs for an old broad, eh?"
    Embarrassed, I shook my head and answered, "No ma'am, not bad at all!" She wagged a finger and quipped, "You've been in-country too long. Where ya from?" Self-conscious at being singled out for conversation, I answered, "New York City, ma'amm" She shook her head and said, "You're better off here. I'll tell you, it
    isn't safe to walk the streets back there!"

    She seemed to have a joke and a smile for all of us who surrounded her, and she asked another Marine, "Hey, is that rifle loaded?" He smiled, patted his M14 rifle and answered, "Yes, indeed." She laughed and answered, "Not half as loaded as I intend to be! I'll tell you, it takes guts to come down and face an audience like this. Most of the time, if they don't like the show, the
    audience just boos. If you guys don't like it, you shoot at the stage."

    There were at least four vehicles in her "motorcade". During the
    delay in departure, I was relieved of duty before the vehicles
    moved out, and I returned to my unit, so I have no other insights
    to share.

    I was genuinely impressed by Martha Raye because she seemed a very rare, very real individual, and I returned to the continental United States with a great respect for her. I was not inclined to write fan letters, but I believe I should have written a thank you note to the lady who came to visit me and a few thousand buddies, because she brought a very special piece of the USA with her. God bless her."

    Edward J. Palumbo
    2030368 USMC, 1964-68 and beyond.

  2. #2


    Col Maggie of the boondocks aka Martha Raye.
    Nice tribute to "Col Maggie of the boondocks" aka Martha Raye,00.html
    Another nice page on "Col Maggie of the boondocks",
    There's a surprise about the angti-war movement in Hollywood.

    There's so much conflicting information on Col Maggie, making it difficult to sort the truth from fiction.
    One page states that she had very little schooling, couldn't read very well.
    Than there a statement that she was a R.N with training.
    These two statements conflict each other.
    One page states that she was awarded an Honorary "Colonel" by the Marine Corps another that she was awarded an Honorary "Lt.Col" by the Green Berets.
    Here too there conflict.
    But she still loved by many.
    She buried at Fort Bragg among many who's life she touched in Vietnam and before.

    Semper Fidelis

  3. #3
    I Remember Martha Raye The Night She Stayed With Gen. Walt. I Was
    Onb Guard Duty That Night In Sept. Of 1965.

    Semper Fi,
    Bill Smith 2012650 Plt. 356 P.i.

  4. #4
    I seen Martha Raye two times in Vietnam. She would go out to places that Bob Hope would never think og going. She was one wonderfull woman. Smith was you there when Ann Margret stayed with Gen. Walt?

  5. #5
    Holy smokes! I'd almost forgotten about Martha Raye being in-country. I had an opportunity to see her too - I think it was in DaNang. I was trying to check with some of the readers who may also remember seeing Bobby Rydell. My kids found a pic of me and Rydell but no dates - and I can't remember much anyway. I do remember seeing "Sergeant Carter" from the Gomer Pyle TV series and that was in DaNang - I think.
    Anyway, thanks for the memories, firstsgtmike.
    Semper Fi

  6. #6
    Well I remember Martha Raye. It was maybe late summer 1968 and she and her entourage of maybe three others came into our bunker. She was just adlibbing, telling dirty jokes and drinking beer. She was a great morale booster and a hell of a gutsy women. I'm not sure but this may have happened in 3rd MarDiv area.

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