So recently I became interested in how ranks were assigned in the military, particularly to drafted doctors. In my research, I learnt the backgrounds to all our favourite characters, and how the got to the positions they did. I thought some of you guys might be interested too, so, here we go.
Captains Pierce, McIntyre and Hunnicutt - Captain was the lowest rank given to drafted doctors. The reason they started at such a high rank, was in an attempt to make up for the loss of the wages they would have earned as civilian doctors.
Major Burns - Frank, however, wasn’t just a Captain (although he is in the book). There are a couple of theories as to how he reached Major, such as being promoted for being particularly GI, or possibly because he was successful in the States. The theory I find to be most logical is that he joined the reserves after WW2, cowardly patriot that he is, and was caught by surprise when the Korean War broke out.
Major Winchester - When it comes to this Major, I find it quite easy to believe that he was drafted as a Captain just like the others. But, of course, with all his money and connections (and his father), I don’t think it would have been hard for him to get himself moved up the ranks a bit.
Lieutenant-Colonel Blake - Honestly, it’s highly unlikely that a draftee doctor would get to this rank, especially not as quickly as Henry did. And, more than that, after only 2 weeks of officer training, there’s no way he would be given a command. Of course, with the book for context it’s all explained: Henry was an army doctor. He joined up before Pearl Harbour, and the army was his career. While this seems unlikely for TV Henry, the idea can be made a little more palatable by remembering that it was common for people who couldn’t afford medical school to join the army. The army would cover your tuition, and in return you would serve for a period. I prefer to think that’s what happened with Henry.
Colonel Potter - Here we have the most straightforward of the characters. Potter joined up with the cavalry at 14, then became a doctor, and made his way through the ranks in a standard fashion.
I’d like to take a moment to reflect and to remember some of the beautiful souls who have moved on to the next life.
We will never forget McLean Stevenson as our quirky Colonel Blake. Father figure to Radar. Oh, and don’t get the idea that he drinks.
We will never forget Harry Morgan as our darling Colonel Potter. A gold hearted old war horse, hopelessly devoted to his wife, and with more “Potterisms” than Carter has liver pills.
We will never forget Larry Linville as none other than Ferret Face, or Major Frank Burns. Easily one of the most hated members of the MASH unit, who enabled almost all of his problems. But let’s face it. It wouldn’t have been the same without him, and we wouldn’t have traded him for any other Major Burns. Actually maybe.
We will never forget Allan Arbus as our beloved Psychiatrist, Sidney Freedman. I think, perhaps, that I learned the most from Sidney. Patient, kind, loving, loyal. Professional. Always willing to listen and to lay down his pennies for a game of Poker. In his own words… “Ladies and gentlemen, take my advice. Pull down your pants and slide on the ice!”
We will never forget Wayne Rogers, also known as our beloved Trapper John. The mustard colored bathrobe and those signature Trapper curls. The huge heart covered up by sarcasm and a crooked grin. Sunglasses and hangovers in the OR.. and being Hawkeye’s first partner in crime.
Lastly. The latest addition to the “Heavenly MASH” Hall Of Fame. We will NEVER forget William Christopher, who played our beloved Father Mulcahy. Father Mulcahy was one in a million. He had a heart of gold and crosses to match. He was compassionate and forgiving in the midst of a blood and war. He brought comfort to those who were lost. He looked down on nobody. And was perhaps, one of the purest souls to step foot on the battlegrounds of Korea. In my opinion, the MASH unit would have been lost without the witty priest, with jump roping skills and the ability to talk sense and rationality into the most disturbed and deranged individuals. We love you, Padre. We love your kind eyes and sweet disposition. Nothing would have been the same.