By Mr. Richard L Rzepka (USAG Okinawa)June 23, 2016
The 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group recently dedicated a new boat to Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient and stalwart supporter of U.S. service members, Martha "Maggie" Raye.
Raye, a comedian and actress, worked closely with the United Service Organizations during World War II, Korea and Vietnam to keep the spirits of U.S. troops high. Though Raye performed for all branches of service during her time with the USO, she found a special bond with a special U.S. Army regiment -- the Green Berets.
Though Raye passed away in 1994, Special Forces Soldiers still recognize her outstanding commitment and support to the legendary regiment.
The boat was named after an exceptional woman committed to a life of service, said Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Joshe Raetz. The boat will ensure readiness and safety during Airborne and maritime operations, he said. The battalion and the regiment have a rich heritage of operating on land, sea or air.
Raye had ultimately made eight trips into the hinterlands of Vietnam where she made it a point to visit the teams in their remote outposts for weeks and months at a time. Always willing to lend a hand, Raye was often seen attending to the wounded, utilizing nurse's training she had received.
Her commitment to supporting service members was unmatched and in 1993, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Master Sgt. Roy Benavidez, a Green Beret and Medal of Honor recipient.
The citation read: A talented performer whose career spans the better part of a century, Martha Raye has delighted audiences and uplifted spirits around the globe. She brought her tremendous comedic and musical skills to her work in film, stage, and television, helping to shape American entertainment. The great courage, kindness, and patriotism she showed in her many tours during World War II, the Korean Conflict, and the Vietnam Conflict earned her the nickname "Colonel Maggie." The American people honor Martha Raye, a woman who has tirelessly used her gifts to benefit the lives of her fellow Americans."
For Raye, the service and support to her Green Berets was a simple, patriotic gesture to those who "asked for so little."
"The least we can do back home here, is just to give them the support, the love, the dignity, the respect that they deserve," said Raye.