Saturday, May 28, 2011

Remembering Martha Raye

I read something this week, and I’m going to try to have a stab at it, but I don’t remember where I got it, so this may by very inaccurate.

“You will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom.  I hope you make good use of it.”  John Quincy Adams (1967-1848).

Think about it.  His generation left their country, their families, their homes, their jobs, in some cases titles and deeds granted by the crown and generations old to ride aboard leaky boats across an angry unpredictable ocean in a time long before Concord, Carnival Cruise Lines, and GPS to a wild, uncivilized, sometimes savage land to begin their lives again as free men and women.  They had little but what they carried with them, and many did not survive the journey.
Having arrived in the new land, they fought a war to keep that land from succumbing to the pitfalls that prompted them to leave their homes in the first place.
Nor was this a victory easily won.  There was no ‘Seal Team 6’ to handle it, no lifeflight for injured companions, no comforting care packages from ‘back home’.  All they had was the opportunity to fight for freedom, and fight they did.
Fewer than 250 years have since passed.  This land and this freedom have survived, yet not without great cost.  Revolution, 1812, Civil War, WW’s I & II, Korea, Nam, Desert Storms I & II and others.  Each generation sacrificing some of their own to pass freedom and liberty on to their children and grandchildren with the hope that they will ‘make good use of it’.
With this in mind, and this being the weekend we set aside to show respect and honor to those who have laid down their lives in service to our nation, I submit the following for your approval, received yesterday from a friend from Pittsburgh:

“This is a great story about a great woman.  I was unaware of her credentials or where she is buried.  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 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.
“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 will 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 on this side is a 'Caduceus' which means I am a Nurse, with a surgical, take me to your wounded. He said, “Yes, m'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.

“Hand Salute!  A great lady.”

As you’re sitting around the BBQ having a hot dog and a beer, watching a parade, or whatever your plans for Memorial Day, 2011, be sure to thank a vet this weekend.  And if you’re reading this and you are a Vet, Thank You!
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