Monster M*A*S*H
Monster M*A*S*H

Where There's a Will, There's a War was the 17th episode of Season 10 of the CBS-TV series M*A*S*H, also the 235th overall series episode. Written by David Pollock and Elias Davis and directed by Alan Alda, it originally aired on February 22, 1982.


Fearing for his life at an aid station, Hawkeye writes his will with special bequests for his friends.

Full episode summary[]

I-Corps sends word to the 4077th that Batallion Aid needs a surgeon immediately. It's B.J.'s turn, but since he is off in Seoul for an afternoon of R&R, and since Winchester was the last surgeon to go there, Potter has no choice but to send Hawkeye. B.J. returns to camp shortly afterward only to be informed that Hawkeye was sent to the front in his place, and he begins to feel guilty.

Batallion Aid is under heavy fire and casualties are steadily coming in, and it is only after Hawkeye arrives that he finds out that the original surgeon was killed by mortar fire the night before.

The first batch of wounded from Batallion Aid arrive at the 4077th, and one of them mentions that he heard a doctor had been killed at the Aid station, but doesn't know who. B.J., already saddled with guilt, begins to worry that it might have been Hawkeye, but with the influx of wounded there's no time to find out for sure, and to make matters worse, shelling has taken out the phones at the front so there's no way to reach them.

At Batallion Aid, Hawkeye, inwardly fearing for his life, decides then and there to make out his last will and testament, intending to leave all his possessions to his dad with a few exceptions. In between treating the wounded, Hawkeye recalls moments with his colleagues at the 4077th relating to the items he plans to leave for them, most of which turn out to be small but highly symbolic trinkets. He intends to start with B.J., but he can't yet think of anything for him, so he begins with Charles instead:

  • One night when all the surgeons all got drunk in the Officers' Club, during which the others managed to put a frilly tutu on Charles while he was passed out, Hawkeye writes that Charles always maintained his dignity despite all the dumb jokes they pulled on him. Fittingly, Hawkeye wills Charles the most dignified thing he owns: his purple bathrobe - purple being the color of royalty.
  • Father Mulcahy surreptitiously got revenge on a visiting General by "accidentally" ruining his private meal (the preparation of which delayed dinner for the rest of the camp). Overhearing the General yelling that Mulcahy's life wouldn't be worth "a plugged nickel" if he wasn't a priest, Hawkeye decided to bequeath the Father a nickel, along with his everlasting respect.
  • On a different night, a very tired Hawkeye and Margaret were recording inventory in the Supply Room when Margaret unknowingly started cracking jokes which caused both of them to start laughing hysterically. Hawkeye leaves Margaret his Groucho Marx nose and glasses, in honor of her all-too-hidden silly side.
  • Another time, taking a break during a rough OR session, Colonel Potter, then one week in camp, strikes up a conversation with Hawkeye about fishing. Hawkeye writes that Potter reminds him of his dad, and having him around allows him to miss his dad a little less; Hawkeye wills Potter his father's copy of Last of the Mohicans.
  • One day, when Hawkeye goes to the office to check if he has mail, Klinger hands him a copy of Life magazine someone else had dropped off. To Hawkeye's delight, there are numerous pictures inside of Maine. When Hawkeye later finds out that Klinger had secretly traded a whole Lebanese salami for the magazine, Hawkeye is touched. He writes that Klinger would give a friend the shirt off his back, and thus Hawkeye decides to return the favor, willing to Klinger his beloved Hawaiian shirt, hoping that he will continue to wear it even if it does go out of style.

Back at the 4077th, more wounded arrive from Batallion Aid. In the OR, B.J. gets a look at his next patient, and immediately begins whooping for joy, euphorically declaring to the others that Hawkeye is still alive. When asked how he knows, B.J. points out to all of them that only Hawkeye sews "vertical mattress stitches with white cotton sutures"; relieved, the others join him in his cheering.

At Batallion Aid, the deluge and the shelling have finally ended, and word comes down that a new surgeon is on his way, so Hawkeye is allowed to go back to camp. As he packs to leave, the other doctor, Captain Rackley, asks if Hawkeye had finished his will. When he asks how he knew, Rackley solemnly answers, "I've seen a lot of those written here".

Hawkeye returns to camp in the middle of the night. Back in the Swamp, he takes notice of B.J.'s picture of Peg and Erin and gets an idea; he goes to Potter's office and finishes his will by leaving for Erin a list of all the men B.J. took care of while in Korea, in the hope that she'll understand why her dad was away during the first years of her life.

Having noticed the light on in the office, Klinger pokes his head in the door and implores Hawkeye to get some sleep saying, "There's no paperwork that can't wait until tomorrow." Hawkeye replies, "I used to think that, too."

Guests/Recurring cast[]

  • Dennis Howard as Captain Rackley
  • Larry Ward as General Kratzer
  • Jim Borelli as the G.I.
  • Brian Fudd as G.I.
  • New Bellamy as G.I.
  • James Emery as Corpsman

Research Notes/Fun Facts[]

  • The Life magazine Klinger gave Hawkeye was dated Aug 4, 1952. Winchester has already been in a battalion aide station in the Battle of Pork Chop Hill ("The Life You Save"), which occurred from March–July 1953 - a sign that the TV show "M*A*S*H" ends with the end of the Korean War in July 1953. 
  • When Hawkeye finally returns to the 4077th, he looks at B.J.'s photo of his wife Peg and their daughter Erin - it shows Peg giving Erin a bath. This shot was taken from B.J.'s anniversary movie that Hawkeye had arranged for Peg to make for him ("Oh, How We Danced").  
  • During Hawkeye's flashback to Father Mulcahy, Igor says a visiting General Kratzer bagged a pheasant and his personal chef has usurped the kitchen to make it along with Baked Alaska for dessert, the latter of which would be impossible to prepare in a battlefield kitchen as the recipe calls for extremely frozen ice cream being inverted onto a cake, then topped with meringue and quickly baked, none of which could possibly be achieved so close to the front.
  • Anomaly: Hawkeye leaves Winchester his bathrobe, which he says is purple "the color of royalty." Hawkeye's robe is notoriously red, his favorite color.