Theater of the Green Berets and Martha Raye
Thanksgiving, 1966: I was running the theater for the Mess Association. We really didn't have a staff. During the day, if the mail clerk hadn't done it, I would take the jeep in to the MACV compound and exchange yesterday's movie for today's. Then I would return and open up the theater, straighten the chairs, sweep the floor, and load up the night's film. Most of the time, there was another person to run the snack bar. Movies were free: snacks were cheap... something to do.

Martha Raye was scheduled to put on a show on our compound on Thanksgiving Day. We had set up a flatbed trailer for her to use as a stage in front of the headquarters building. Unfortunately, the weather turned bad and rained most of the day. It was decided to move her appearance indoors to the theater and that we would show her film of a Hollywood Palace TV show in which she appeared.

The place was packed with the chairs removed to allow maximum attendance. The side doors were open to allow the overflow crowd to see the show from outside. The movie was shown, followed by Maggie's personal appearance on our meager stage. It was a wonderful time. Too bad more people could not attend.

After the show, Col. Maggie came back to the projection booth and stood by as I rewound and packed up her movie for her. We exchanged pleasantries, then she was on her way. What a wonderful person she was!

There are many good references to Ms Raye on the web. Just enter MARTHA RAYE into your favorite search engine.

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Samuel J. Cook (formerly SP5, SigCo, 5th SFGA)
MOS 32C20 (leg)
(True story to the best of my knowledge. Written 14 May 2001. All rights reserved by S.J.Cook.)