The Popcorn Stand: Remembering MASH

On this date 12 years ago, a little known event happened that marked the end of an era. On Feb. 16, 2006, the U.S. Army’s last Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, more popularly known as MASH, was decommissioned.

That last MASH unit was handed over to the Pakistan military to continue to treat earthquake victims. MASH units were eventually replaced by combat support units that can get closer to the frontline.

But of course we all became familiar with what a MASH unit was first through the 1970 film and then the long-running TV series based on the movie that depicted the antics of those in a MASH unit during the Korean War.

MASH lives on as the chances to catch reruns of the show are numerous on the various cable networks which constantly air classic episodes. While the show maintained its quality right to the end of its run, I do agree with Peter on Family Guy who prefers the earlier episodes of MASH before it became “all dramatic” in the later years.

One of the later episodes I really appreciate, though, as a Giants fan is the episode that depicts the progress of gambling the whole unit is involved in during the 1951 baseball season culminating with Bobby Thompson’s “Shot Heard ’Round the World.”

There’s also another hilarious episode in which Hawkeye is temporarily blind but leads the gang in simulating a broadcast of a baseball game to fool Frank Burns, who had been bilking those in the camp of their money with inside knowledge.

My favorite episode involved Captain Tuttle (“there was a little Captain Tuttle in all of us”) who actually didn’t exist. There was also the escapades of Col. Flagg, who appeared in several episodes, my favorite being “The abduction of Margaret Houlihan,” in which Edward Winter, who portrayed Flagg, was absolutely hilarious.

MASH units may have been decommissioned, but through the classic series, MASH lives on.

— Charles Whisnand


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