Aid Station was the 19th episode of Season 3 of the CBS-TV series M*A*S*H, also the 67th overall series episode. Written by Larry Gelbart and Simon Munter and directed by William Jurgensen, it first aired on February 11, 1975.
Hawkeye, Houlihan, and Klinger go to an battalion aid station at the front. Working closely together under heavy fire and unsanitary medical conditions, the three return to camp with new found respect for one another.
Full episode summary
Replacements are needed at an aid station and the 4077th is selected to provide a surgeon, scrub nurse and corpsman until regulars are assigned. Henry admits this is a dangerous assignment and requests volunteers. Margaret agrees to go, but no doctor volunteers, so burnt sausages are drawn from a bedpan to make the decision. Hawkeye is selected and Father Mulcahy picks a personnel card at random to select the corpsman: Klinger.
Each say their goodbyes: Klinger makes arrangements with Radar to dispense the Klinger Collection in case he doesn't return; Margaret gives Frank her “independent Margaret” soliloquy before giving him a hard kiss on the lips; Hawkeye shares a drink with Trapper and tells him he has a will in his locker.
The trio head off for the aid station without incident, save for a flat tire changed by Margaret. The aid station barely resembles a medical facility – the red cross on the roof was blown away by enemy fire. They meet Dever, the lead medic, and prepare a makeshift triage and operating room which is literally out in the open. Artillery shells crash all around and wounded soon pour in, making the anemic working conditions even worse. Margaret is pressed into surgical duty while Klinger doubles as a nurse. Back at camp, tension is causing frayed nerves. Frank needs Henry's help to close an incision; a nervous Radar gets Trapper's permission to sleep in Hawkeye's bunk; an agitated Henry pays a late night visit for a nightcap and keeps everyone awake with his rambling.
All's quiet overnight at the aid station, where all are sleeping except Hawkeye and Margaret. Margaret is nervous about snipers, so an exhausted Hawkeye bunks down next to her, sharing a blanket.
Next morning, replacements arrive and Hawkeye, Margaret and Klinger drive back to the 4077th. Hawkeye stops short of camp to let Margaret know she is his “favorite officer in the U.S. Army” and Klinger echoes the sentiment. Klinger replaces his helmet with a woman's hat, announces he's ready for the Army again, and the trio make a triumphant entry into camp. Things are not quite the same: Hawkeye tells the truth that there was nothing between him and Houlihan (which Trapper has a hard time believing); Frank shows his jealousy when Margaret won't return his affections; Klinger is pretty angry at Radar for selling his entire collection of dresses.
Next dinner, as Trapper and Frank whine and complain about trivial things like the food and coffee, Hawkeye and Margaret silently toast each other over their new-found respect for each other.
Research notes/Fun facts
- Klinger tells Radar to give his mink coat to Lieutenant Brown. This could be the Lieutenant Brown as played by Patricia Stevens; after all, she is seen at a movie date with Klinger in "Bulletin Board", just 3 episodes before in broadcast order, or the very next episode in production order.
- When Klinger, Margaret, and Hawkeye return to camp, they're singing "U.S. Field Artillery March", a patriotic military march of the United States Army written in 1917 by John Philip Sousa, based on an earlier work by Edmund L. Gruber. Apparently, it's one of Margaret's favorite songs, as she can be heard singing it on several occasions throughout the series.
- Anomaly: Blood pressure meter cuffs are shown being used that are fastened with Velcro. Velcro was not patented until 1955 and not available commercially until the late 50s.
- Unbenownst at the time, the four (Trapper, Henry, Frank and Radar) that are in the Swamp awaiting their arrival back from the aid station are the four major cast members that left the show.
Guest stars/Recurring cast
- Todd Susman as the P.A. announcer
- Tom Dever (lead aidman at the Aid Station - introduces himself using his real name "Dever")
- Jeff Maxwell
- Kellye Nakahara