the Vietnam War the best friend the men who wore green
berets had was Martha Raye. The star of stage, screen
and television was considered the „Mother of U.S. Army
Special Forces,“ and she richly deserved the title.
Beginning in 1965 Maggie, as she was known to us, visited
Vietnam for four months a year. Three of those months
she would spend with isolated Special Forces detachments
all over the country. She was a qualified combat nurse
and she often put her training to use. During her time
in combat zones she was twice wounded and received two
Purple Hearts. She also earned the Combat Medical Badge.
In 1966 President Johnson made her an honorary Lt. Col.
in Special Forces.
I first met Maggie in the late summer of 1968 at my
camp outside Da Nang. The camp was called Command and
Control North, and from there we ran top-secret reconnaissance
missions into North Vietnam and Laos. I had been playing
poker in a friend’s hootch, dubbed the Bamboo Lounge,
when Maggie and our camp commander, the late Col. Jack
Warren, came rolling in with Bloody Marys in their hands.
you ever die you sweet $#&^%$,“ Maggie roared, before
she gave me an extremely wet kiss on my ear. Over the
course of a couple world-class drunks we got to know
each other. Before she left camp she gave me a medal
of the Virgin Mary. She also asked if I wanted her to
say hello to anyone back in the States. I said I’d like
her to say hello to Elvis Presley for me.
said she would, but also insisted I give her my folk’s
telephone number so she could call and tell them I was
To my mother’s amazement, she got a call when Maggie
returned to the States. Somewhere during the conversation,
Maggie mentioned she had tried to get through to Presley
but he wasn’t available. She said she would try again.
A few weeks later, Maggie called my mother back to tell
her she had gotten in touch with Presley and had said
hello to him for me. She said that Presley said he would
remember me in his prayers and „God bless.“
After that, I always refreshed Maggie’s memory of who
I was by saying „Remember me? I’m the guy you said hello
to Elvis Presley for?“
She always replied, „I know who you are.“
the Vietnam War, Maggie personally telephoned many parents
and hand delivered letters from loved ones to hundreds
more. Today she rests with „her guys“ in the post cemetery
at Fort Bragg, N.C. She wore one of her most prized
possessions to her grave – the coveted green beret.
by David A. Maurer, recon team leader, Command and Control
North and author of The Dying Place.