Story by Sgt. 1st Class Victor Aguirre, 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne)
During a major battle in Soc Trang, Vietnam, entertainer and Honorary Col. Maggie Raye put on her fatigues and went to the dispensary to provide medical assistance for more than 30 hours with minimal rest. General William C. Westmoreland called her the “the grandest trooper of them all” when he presented her the Department of the Army, Outstanding Civilian Service Award in 1966.
1st Special Forces Command (A) celebrated Oct. 18 as eleven 1st SFC (A) spouses received the Col. Maggie Raye Volunteer Award for “Outstanding Civilian Service” from Brigadier Gen. John Deedrick, 1st SFC (A) Deputy Commanding General in Washington, D.C. The awards were part of the annual Celebrating the Green Beret Family Reception.
The award’s namesake, Maggie Raye, was a popular entertainer during World War II through the Vietnam War, traveling to Vietnam more than any other entertainer. Due to her dedication to the troops, President Lyndon B. Johnson made her an honorary Lt. Col. in the Armed Forces and presented her with a Green Beret in 1964.
“Ms. Raye held a special affection for our operators, sending them telegrams, delivering letters and photos to family members, relaying specific stories, and even building an addition to her California home as a safe house for them,” said Deedrick. “For all of her efforts to support not just Green Berets, but all American Servicemen, Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger presented her with the Department of Defense, Distinguished Public Service Award in 1986.
The Col. Maggie Raye Volunteer Award was conceived by the U.S. Army Special Forces Command in 2010 and has been awarded every year since, even after the unit’s transformation to the 1st Special Forces Command (A). It recognizes those who have contributed significantly to the quality of life for soldiers, exemplifying personal concern for their needs, development, and welfare; and concern for the families of soldiers in the Special Forces regiment.
Linda L. Repass, a former 30-year family readiness support advisor, helped in the foundation of the Col. Maggie Raye Volunteer Award during her tenure as the Family Readiness Support Advisor for U.S. Army Special Forces Command in 2008-2010.
“I hope this award motivates spouses to volunteer. Our family readiness groups make a difference,” Repass said. “We are one big family, and we need to take care of each other.”
The spouses recognized reflect the ideals for which Maggie Raye stood: dedication, patriotism, volunteerism and concern for the troops.
“In the true spirit of Colonel Maggie Raye, this award recognizes service that is often behind the scenes, and improves the community and enhances the overall military lifestyle of the unit,” said Deedrick.
This year’s Col. Maggie Raye Volunteer Award recipients are Tiers Arnts, Chrissy Davidson, Jessica Draper, Jessica Marsh, Miriam Muholland, Jackie Parrish, Jodi Petit, Kelly Rose, Ruth Trotter, Stacy Williamson, and Lisa Wilson.
1st Special Forces Command (Airborne) is the Army’s premier unconventional warfare organization that operates in over 70 countries worldwide. It achieves its mission objectives through an indigenous approach, precision targeting, wielding information, and influence operations.