This page was last updated on 29 September 2015.
You are listening to the very familiar sound of "Taps" as a tribute to Maggie.
Although Maggie was not actually in the military, after she died on 19 October 1994 she was buried at Fort Bragg, NC and received an almost complete military funeral. The only things lacking were the playing of "Taps" and a squad firing volleys. Members of the Special Forces, the 82nd Airborne, the Special Forces Association, and Special Operations Association, along with hundreds of on-lookers were at the cemetery for her funeral. AND I was among them.
BUT to liven things up a bit--here you will meet some of the Veterans who knew and loved Maggie. She served our country well through three wars but you seldom heard about what she did. Here you can see some of the photos our troops have sent me. Click on the pictures to see them better if you wish. I will now take you backwards in time--
One of the many men who met Maggie sent me some photos of her that were taken on 11 September 1971 as she was departing Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, NC. She had been there during the 10th Anniversary of the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) celebration. Standing next to Maggie is her escort--then CPT Duncan "Pete" Thompson, now retired COL Thompson still looks just as good and is still a chic-magnet.
First up is a photo that was donated by Kenneth Roberts. It is one of my favorite photos of Maggie that was taken in Vietnam. This truck became well known in the BanMeThout area in 1971. Photo was actually taken by Chris Crain! Thanks Chris for letting me know who actually took it--I look forward to receiving more photos from you!
Maggie got around by many modes of transportation during the various wars. This picture became her favorite way to travel--on board a chopper. Photo donated by John Mitchell and taken in AnLoc in 1969.
The next two photos are a bit scratchy but still show Maggie's caring for our troops. These photos were emailed to me by Bob Waller who said they were taken in late 1968 or early 1969 at the 5th Special Forces Group C-Team Officers Club in DaNang. The photo on the left includes L-R: USAF FAC LTC Ralph Albright behind the bar, and unknown soldier smoking, LT Bill Glendenning, Maggie, and LT Bob Waller. The picture on the right was taken the same night and that's Maggie next to LT Bob Waller.
In 1968 T/SGT Jeffrey Saddlemire had the absolute pleasure of being selected to present Maggie with flowers at the end of a USO show. He will never forget meeting "what a very sweet lady she was" at Tuy Hoa. He stated that "God has a special place in heaven for people like her. Rest in Peace job well done Maggie!"
Maggie flew into LZ Center (Hill 348), about 40 miles Southwest of DaNang, in 1968 to visit members of the Americal Division's 3/21 Light Infantry, Company D--a.k.a. Black Death. This photo was submitted by Robert Boyd Jr. He is standing in the back on the right and his friend "Beard" is in the front holding his helmet upside down. Beard's helmet was spotted by Maggie when she saw the words "F*** THE ARMY" written on it. Click on it to see the whole picture better! Recently Larry Henderson wrote saying that the soldier to Maggie's left is Clarence W "Chief" Stoneroad from Oklahoma. Larry was working at the time in the bunker at the right rear of the photo. He said her visit was greatly appreciated by all the guys there.
Whenever she saw a soldier, sailor, airman, marine, or coast guardsman without a St Christopher medal--she would hand him or her a brand new one. She got them from Chaplin CPT Michael Ortiz who donated this picture taken of him with her in 1968 while they were in NhaTrang.
I received the following from one of my correspondents:
Subject: "MAGGIE" AKA: LTC Martha Raye
Like most of the Senior NCO, who roamed Smoke Bomb Hill, I had heard of Maggie, as she was fondly known, by the SF Community, yet I had never met her.
However, during the New Years Season of December 1967-January 1968, ST New Jersey, which I was the One Zero, from FOB1 was on special duty, operating from FOB2, due to the weather in the northern area of operation.
While there, we learned that Maggie was planning on sharing New Years with us, so we all gathered at the Club and awaited her arrival. Unlike the majority of the population of the FOB, my choice of alcohol was Smirnoff Vodka. So, when Maggie walked in I handed her a Vodka on the rocks, and we hit it off right on, except the Lady called me a candy ass for using a mix (7up) with my drink. Oh well, can't win them all, but we sat there shooting the shit and drinking the best alcohol, until after midnight. (Regrettably, there were no pictures of Maggie and I because I was still in the old fashioned Spook and SF mode of animosity, so it was by surprise when my picture was taken. Following this three month trip we returned to FOB1, and in May 1968, I returned to CONUS and a very boring stay on Smoke Bomb Hill, with B Company, 7th SFGA.
Sometime in August or September, I called Mrs. "A" [see the links page to learn more about this woman] and asked her if she could get me back to FOB1, and she told me that wouldn't be any problem at all, just watch my mail box. Sometime in September, I received orders assigning me to HHC 5th SFGA, attached to C&C Command, DaNang, RVN for duty with FOB1. However, upon my arrival at C&C, I was informed that FOB1 had too many E8 on hand, and FOB2 didn't have but one, so that was where I was heading.
Upon arriving at FOB2, I held various assignments, however, at the peak of the New Year of 1968-69, I was the First Sergeant of the FOB Security Company, and upon notification that Maggie was planning on making an appearance to bring in the New Year with us. Those who had been there the previous year remembered my encounter, with Maggie and I was advised to "handle it." Captain Bobby Evens was the Security Company Commander, and we had handled a few items previously, so we was prepared.
However, come the time that Maggie was supposed to make her appearance, we received a phone call from the 4th ID, which was "down the road a piece." In the conversation, we learned that she was being held hostage by the Legs at the 4th, so............we dispatched a couple jeeps with .50 caliber guns on them, to return with Maggie, and no one else. Upon arrival, the MPs at the gate advised that the camp was under shutdown, due to am impending attack by the VC. The Senior NCO on the gate was asked how he would like to have his gate shot all to shit, and to get the OD down there right away. Fortunately, none of us wore ID, nor rank, and although these guys knew where we came from they didn't know who we were, so we acted accordingly, and after a few threats, and Maggie telling the Senior Officer in her presence, that she was taking off with us, we departed to the FOB, and continued to party with Maggie. Bobby and I had a few other encounters with fate, but all in all, this tour was a piece of cake as far as I was concerned, and the second visit with Maggie, was another highlight of my life.
Back in the states, only this time with B Company, 10th SFGA, Fort Devens, MA, sometime in 1971, I think it was, Post HQs and Group HQs learned that Maggie was to make an appearance at Fort Devens, and wanted to have one of the "Boys from the Tenth" to be her escort, not some leg from Post HQ. The word was put out to the Company's to find out who knew Maggie........................no one in the Officer Grade, so I expressed my association with Maggie and the Company Sergeant Major said: "OK Ringland, you are the Colonel's escort." That told me two things, one that I was the only one in the Group that knew or had met Maggie, and two, that the "SMage" had never even seen nor met Maggie. The first thing that I did was hit the Class VI on the way home and pick up two bottles of Smirnoff to add to the ones already in the cabinet. Be it far above the Lords in Heaven, Maggie never made the trip. Shortly prior to her departure from her Team House, in California, Maggie was stricken with one of her several liver/kidney attacks, which, years later led to her demise. Maggie was, to the best of my knowledge, the God Mother of Special Forces, and Mrs. Billye "Mrs. 'A'" Alexander [see the links page to learn more about this woman], the Special Forces Patriarch Angel. With one major regret of having never met "Mrs.A," so I'll have to live with the pleasure of having talked with her on the phone. May both these Ladies who took special interest in we, the wearers of the Girl Scout Beanie, AKA: The Green Beret, rest in peace under the outstretched arms of our Lord God, in Heaven, forever.
...Jim Ringland, AKA: Ringo.
In 1967 Maggie ran into some soldiers while she was in Saigon. These two photos show Maggie at that time being interviewed by (then) SP4 Dick Ellis at AFVN. Photos by (then) SP5 David Lavender.
CPT Richard J "Griffy" Griffith, USAR was originally from Detroit, MI but now lives in Free Soil, MI. In December 1967 he piloted Maggie around from Pleiku to Kontum and places in between to visit SF camps. They would go to 2 or 3 camps per day and spend the night at the last one of the day. He even recalled that he flew Maggie to Saigon where she treated his flight crew to dinner at the Myercord Hotel. Griffy was a captain at the time with the 57th Assault Helicopter Co in Kontum. He recalls that Maggie could drink and play cards with the best of them! Griffy can't recall the names of the folks in these photos--maybe you can help him. He does know the LTC was the CO for the SF in II Corps in the Central Highlands. The MAJ was his S-2. If you can help identify any of the folks in these pictures that he took please let me and Griffy know.
Martha Raye and John Wayne were both scheduled to arrive
at Ap Bac at different dates and times according to my father. Martha Raye
showed up on this day, shortly after the bar had been dedicated at AP BAC,
Martha arrived. She helicoptered into this small landing pad at A-413Alpha. It
was somewhere between 10:00AM and 12:00PM. Raye visited for a couple of hours
then she had to go, it was the afternoon toward 12:00pm that she departed and
that night was a scheduled classified operation with the Chu Hoi, so everyone
needed rest. She had come from other camps and left AP BAC for other camps.
The next picture was taken at VungTau, Viet Nam in 1967 around January or February. Retired COL John "Jay" Baker was assigned to the 535th Troop Carrier Squadron and their primary mission was to supply Green Beret outposts with whatever they needed. The Air Force's C-7A Caribou (formerly the Army CV-2 ) was the aircraft used for these missions. They also ferried around USO tour groups including Jonathan Winters, Nancy Sinatra, as well as Martha Raye to name a few. One of the pilots (AJ Stinson) who was providing Maggie transportation that day coaxed her into spending a few hours at their contract quarters in VungTau. They had constructed a small Officers Club in the quarters. Jay believes Maggie really enjoyed the peace and quiet associated with their club. There were only a few members of the 535th there that day to ask her questions and the guys provided free drinks. Maggie had brought along her guitarist and she sang a few songs. One Jay particularly remembers was "Satin Doll." He was a first lieutenant at the time and felt honored to have had the chance to spend the time he did with her. In the photo, which was actually taken in the Bong Lai Hotel, L-R are Don Stallard, Maggie, Jay Baker, Bill Hodge, and AJ Stinson. I'd like to thank Jay for allowing me to post his photo here.
Late 1966 CW4 Dennis Pisseri USAR (Ret) was a sailor onboard the USS Stormes (DD-780) when Maggie came onto the ship. He took several photos of her with the other sailors:
Dennis even sent some photos of himself--hoping maybe someone recognizes and remembers him. Left to right is Dennis in 1966, near one of the ships in 1966, in his Army uniform in 1991 and more recently in 2008.
I received an email one day from Art Kidd in Nashua, New Hampshire about his encounter with Maggie--here's his story:
In 1965/66 I was a Marine Sgt stationed with (a 75 man) Co. L Marine Support Battalion which was located aboard the 8th RRU, Army Security Agency at PhuBai. Martha Raye had made a local appearance which, unfortunately, I was not able to attend. Later that evening, she was a guest in the Officers Club at the 8th RRU. Now, the officers club just happened to be right next door to the NCO club. There were some of us Marines sitting around a table enjoying a refreshment when we got to talking about having to miss the show. So, after a lengthy discussion, four of us decided we should go invite Miss Raye to join us. We immediately walked to the O'Club where she was sitting on a couch with several of the senior officers from the station. There was quite a look of shock on everyone's face when we four NCO's appeared. Since I was the designated spokesman for our little group it was left up to me to invite her to join us across the "street" for some talk and refreshments. We were quite surprised when she immediately jumped up and said "Lets go." So, she joined us in the NCO club where about 10 of us sat around a little round table and talked for about 2 hours. She was an absolute peach, down to earth and genuinely interested in us. I was the fortunate one that got to sit right next to her.
The repercussions the next day were well worth the effort and enjoyment we received and no one was regretful. Needless to say, I have never forgotten that night.
While I have many stories of the things she did in Korea--no one has yet donated any photos of her there--so come on folks--lets see some!
Maggie first went to Frankfort, Germany in July 1948. She entertained troops at the Rhein-Main Air Base who were taking part in "Operation Vittles" flying in food and medicine to Berlin. Henry Compton took these two photos which appeared in Stars and Stripes.
WORLD WAR II
One of the last places Maggie went to was North Africa. She ate what the troops ate, slept where they slept and endured the same things they did. This photo (donated by the 2nd Armored Division Museum, Fort Hood, TX) shows Maggie in 1942 preparing to get her food in the chow line somewhere in the Cork Forest in North Africa with members of the 2AD.
In 1942 Maggie went overseas with three other entertainers. Their adventures were written about and made into a movie called "Four Jills in a Jeep." The photo on the left was taken in England--left to right is Maggie, an unknown soldier, Kay Francis and Mitzi Mayfair. It was donated by the Special Forces Association. The photo on the right shows Maggie signing an autograph on the back of MAJ Glen Hubbard while he shakes hands with Carole Landis in Biskra, North Africa. This picture was donated by Fred Wise.
She was one of the first to entertain our soldiers. Here she is dancing to the music of SGT Orlando George of the 198th Coast Artillery from Delaware at Camp Upton in New York. This photo was taken on 17 Sep 1940 and donated by the 198th Coast Artillery Association.
More pictures will be added soon.
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