Friday, June 14, 2019


URBAN LEGEND: Actress and comedian Martha Raye tended to wounded soldiers while performing during the Vietnam War

STATUS: 100% True

Many may be too young to have known the comedian, Martha Raye. She was a loud mouth actress/comedian from several years ago, much unlike the foul mouthed four letter word spewing comics of today. This is a little known fact about what she did, but truly a patriotic, good American by any standards.

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.

The following is from an Army Aviator friend who takes another 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 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-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 ‘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 is the only woman buried in the SF (Special Forces) cemetery at Ft. Bragg...


  1. I have no doubt that she earned that rank. She entertained in WWII and Vietnam. The mouthy celebrities of today could take many a lesson from her on patriotism and class.

  2. I agree with the above comment about mouthy celebrities of today. A lot of them are all talk(and hot air). Miss Raye was a true patriot. Acting wise I mostly know her from guest-starring on ALICE as the mother of Mel(played by VIC TAYBACK). Classic TV Fan

  3. "Hollywood blacklisted her for more then ten years." Yeah, except that she won the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1969, starred in The Bugaloos, and had a recurring role on McMillan and Wife--and was Emmy-nominated for McMillan. That's what you call "blacklisted"??

  4. Re her claim that she was blacklisted, wikipedia said(although it is no longer in the entry on her)that she had a good number of television roles in the 70s, and that her film career had already pretty much ended in the 50s.

  5. Amazing lady she went to Viet Nam for 9 yrs RIP Colonel Ray