M*A*S*H episode
Members of the 4077th salute the departed "Captain Tuttle" after Hawkeye's eulogy.
Season 1, Episode # 15
Number (#15) in series (256 episodes)
Guest star(s) Mary Robin Redd
James Sikking
Dennis Fimple
Network: CBS-TV
Production code: J-315
Writer(s) Bruce Shelley & David Ketchum
Director William Wiard
Original airdate January 14, 1973
IMDb logo IMDB Tuttle
Episode chronology
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"Love Story" (J‑314) "The Ringbanger" (J‑316)

(broadcast order)

(broadcast order)

"Love Story" (J‑314) "The Ringbanger" (J‑316)

(production order)

(production order)

Season 1 episodes
List of all M*A*S*H episodes

Tuttle is an episode from the television series M*A*S*H. It was the 15th episode in Season 1 both in broadcast and production order and also the 15th overall episode in the series. Written by Bruce Shelley and David Ketchum, the episode was directed by William Wiard, it first aired on January 14, 1973.


Hawkeye and Trapper invent a fictional Captain Tuttle, but one thing leads to another and soon everyone at the camp believes Captain Tuttle is real. This creates problems when General Clayton decides to honor Tuttle by presenting him a commendation.

Full episode summaryEdit

The episode opens with Hawkeye and Trapper giving away supplies to Sister Theresa, a nun who runs the local orphanage. When she attempts to thank them, they claim they're just following orders and, when pressed, Pierce says these orders originated from Captain Tuttle.

Tuttle was Pierce's imaginary friend in childhood, whom he used as something of a scapegoat whenever something bad happened. Meanwhile, Radar O'Reilly, who's in on the fact Tuttle doesn't actually exist, prepares another set of requisition forms to obtain more supplies for the orphanage. He manages to persuade Henry Blake to countersign, telling Henry that he had met Tuttle at breakfast, and had appointed Tuttle to be in charge of supplementary supplies. However, when discussing the O.D. roster with Radar, Henry, realizing Tuttle has never pulled any O.D. duty, makes him Officer of the Day instead of Frank.

Naturally, when Frank Burns discovers he isn't Officer of the Day he decides to find out everything he can about his stand-in. Radar manages to stall Frank so Hawkeye and Trapper can forge a dossier on Tuttle. After Frank and Margaret Houlihan read the forged dossier, they attempt to call General Clayton to confirm his existence. Radar has his friend Sparky patch the phone call back through his own line and Hawkeye impersonates General Clayton and confirms Tuttle's existence.

After this, things get out of hand. Hawkeye and Trapper, "realizing" Tuttle hasn't been paid in 14 months, put in a request for back pay. When a finance officer comes with the money, Hawkeye pretends to be Tuttle (wearing a surgical mask) and asks for all the money as well as any future pay to be given directly to Sister Theresa's orphanage. General Clayton finds out about this and is so impressed with this act that he wants to personally award Tuttle a commendation.

Clayton arrives and the whole camp is gathered to witness the award - all except Tuttle, of course. After a while, Hawkeye comes forward with a parachute and explains how Tuttle accidentally jumped out of a helicopter without a parachute in response to an urgent call to perform field surgery. At Henry's invitation, Hawkeye gives a moving eulogy for Tuttle, saying "There's a little bit of Tuttle left in all of us - in fact, you might say that all of us together made up Tuttle." He also mentions that Tuttle named Sister Theresa's orphanage as the sole beneficiary of his military death benefits.

When Radar asks Hawkeye and Trapper where they came up with Tuttle's dog tags and parachute, Trapper claimed they were from Major Murdock. When asked who Major Murdock was, Trapper replied he was Tuttle's replacement, to which Pierce chimed in, "Oh yeah, I had breakfast with him this morning."

Research notes/Fun factsEdit

  • This is the first episode both in broadcast and production order in which the "Sparky" character occurs. This is also the only episode where we hear Sparky's real name (Sergeant Pryor) and the only time in the entire series where Sparky is seen on screen. Sparky will not be heard of again for the rest of Season 1 but will return frequently in later seasons as a regular contact of Radar on the radio.
  • The parachute that Hawkeye is holding is just a reserve chute for a T-5 Parchute and Harness, useless without the main canopy. A parachute would be little help jumping from a Bell H-13 Sioux helicopter, the kind used in the Korean War to evacuate casualties and the one Tuttle would have access to. Either way, these helicopters lack the ability to gain enough altitude to allow a parachute to work properly. However, a descent from a rope would be very possible. Hawkeye does this several times throughout the show. It would have been a much more likely story that Tuttle was dropping in via rope and a gust of wind tumbled the helicopter, knocking him off, killing him.
  • The episode bears a resemblance to the 1934 film Lieutenant Kijé, a Russian satire about an imaginary military officer who "lives" a rich life of intrigue, romance, imprisonment, and glory.

Guest stars/Recurring castEdit