Remembering Martha Raye – a Special Forces Angel
Her show business career and comedy performances spanned almost a century. She visited soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines during World War II, Korea, and then in Vietnam. But she was not there for just show or dance. Her huge heart and genuine love for her GI’s, and especially the Special Forces, is what she is remembered for.
There are several viral internet stories about her, and the stories are almost based on fact. She is also the topic of many stories of her disregard for her own safety if it put any GI at risk. When not performing, she spent time with the men playing cards, telling stories, or just being a friend. She is most remembered for or pitching in to load wounded and caring for them while waiting for transportation in Vietnam. Learn more about her in Vietnam and Soc Trang.
She was never in the military, but she earned honorary rank and affiliation. She was made a honorary member of the Green Berets’ Special Forces and was given the honorary rank of Army Lieutenant Colonel. President Lyndon B. Johnson made the presentations, himself. She was also given honors by the United States Marine Corps. They made her a full Colonel. In 1993 she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her lifetime of dedication to the military.
Martha Raye died in 1994 and special consideration was given to burial at Arlington National Cemetery. She asked that she be buried instead with her Special Forces in Ft. Bragg. Her wish was fulfilled and she became the only woman buried at the Special Forces Cemetery at Ft. Bragg. It was with full military honors.
Our history is full of great men and women who stepped forward to support the military serving overseas. This is just one of those stories.