Soldier of the Month was the 85th episode of the CBS-TV series M*A*S*H, and, also the 13th episode of the fourth season of the series. Written by Linda Bloodworth, and directed by Gene Reynolds, it first aired on November 28, 1975.
Synopsis[edit | edit source]
The 4077th introduces a "soldier of the month" award, which includes a week of R&R in Tokyo, and Klinger and Radar go all out to win the honor. Frank is supposed to choose the winner, but he contracts a rare fever.
Full episode summary[edit | edit source]
Col. Potter holds a surgical staff meeting in the Mess Tent, giving doctors the latest news on Korean Hemorrhagic Fever, which some soldiers in Post Op are suffering from.
There's also a new directive - in a way to boost morale, there's a Soldier of the Month contest, where the top-rated enlisted man from each camp will win a trip to Tokyo, causing Radar, Klinger, and others to try and curry favor from the judge, Frank.
But Frank can't make the decision, because he comes down with the fever, as well. He ends up bed-ridden and delirious, convinced he's going to die. Hawkeye and B.J. fill in, and hold a quiz for Radar, Klinger, Zale, and Igor, to see who knows the most about U.S. history. Klinger, having cheated by writing the answers all over his body, is revealed, and Radar - who seems actually prepared - wins the contest.
Frank, sure he's going to die, asks Father Mulcahy to write a will for him, and all his chicanery and dishonesty is revealed - prescription kickbacks and doctored books that hide his real income from the government. He leaves them all to his wife and children. The final straw for Hot Lips - overhearing all this - is when Frank tearfully leaves Hot Lips all his...clothes?
Eventually, Frank recovers (thanks to fine doctoring by Hawkeye and B.J.). Hot Lips takes him to the latrine for the first time since getting sick, and when he emerges feeling normal, Hot Lips pays him back for the slight by punching him out - "Next time leave your clothes to somebody your own size!"
A few days later, Radar comes back from Tokyo, totally drunk and in custody from the MPs for his "disorderly" conduct. His stumbling, slurring behavior in front of Col. Potter causes Hawkeye and B.J. to fall over in hysterics. (This scene is usually omitted in most syndicated airings.)
Research notes/Fun facts[edit | edit source]
- The MP who brings Radar in at the end of the episode has several lines, but is uncredted. His identity remains unknown.
- Anachronism. Hawkeye refers to a sleeping corpsman as "Albert Anastasia's doorman", a reference to his murder, which took place in 1957.
- The rodent-borne hemorrhagic fever in this episode is likely a strain of Hantavirus. This Eurasian strain of the disease causes the symptoms portrayed in the episode—fever, shock, redness of the eyes, kidney failure, and fluid overload. Hantavirus infected more than 3,000 Korean and American troops during the Korean War, and more than 300 of the victims died. In this episode, the hemorrhagic fever is blamed on mites and fleas that preyed on rats; today, scientists know that victims contract this strain of Hantavirus by a bite from an infected rodent, or by inhaling aerosolized rodent's saliva, urine, or feces that contain the virus. The theme of MASH patients sick with Hemorrhagic fever is repeated in episode 8/9 Mr. and Mrs. Who? (TV series episode)
- Radar mentions his visit to Tokyo during "The Interview". When interviewer Clete Roberts asked him what he did, he replies "I don't remember. I guess I had a really good time." In the not-often-aired final scene where Radar returns from his trip, he's drunk out of his mind, so it's entirely possible he did forget the whole trip afterward.