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c. 1951-1952

The real M*A*S*H

Rare color photographs taken at actual MASH stations in Korea in 1951 and 1952

Portrait of four members of the 8063rd MASH (Mobile Army Surgery Hospital) as they pose together before returning home, South Korea, September 1952. Pictured are, from left, Lieutenant John 'Mumsworthy' Holden and captains Jim C Jones (who holds a pair grenades), Sidney Schaer (1921 - 1998), and 'Clark'. (Photo by Sidney Schaer/Getty Images)

If we were going for strict accuracy, the asterisks should not have been there. And let’s not mention the 1981 Atari video game. But beyond that, as a facsimile of a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital during the Korean War, M*A*S*H came pretty close.

The MASH system had been designed after WWII as a way to bring skilled medical staff as close to a front-line as possible. 

And the system worked.

If you were injured in Korea and you made it to a MASH, you had a 97% chance of survival.  

In order for the staff to survive the literal life-and-death environment, treating up to 600 injured a day, MASH staff utilized large dosages of gallows humor.

In order for the staff to survive the literal life-and-death environment, treating up to 600 injured a day, MASH staff utilized large dosages of gallows humor. 

And it was that combination of comedy and tragedy which took M*A*S*H, a TV show, into new televisual territory.

A spin-off from the 1970 film, itself a spin-off from Richard Hooker’s 1968 book – itself a spin-off from real-life experiences in Korea, the TV series ran from 1972-1983. (‘Richard Hooker’ was a pseudonym for for military surgeon H Richard Hornberger Jr and author WC Heinz).

The show was a new type of TV, comedic yet dramatic, moving yet funny.

And it meant something to people.  Its final show, “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen’, watched by 125 million people, was – and remains – the most-watched TV broadcast ever.

It had deep resonance, including for veterans, who routinely sent in storyline ideas from their own experiences. And when the last Korean MASH unit was closed, in 1997, the barrier between reality and TV broke down.

Cast members from the show, including ‘Frank Burns’, played by Larry Linville, and ‘Charles Winchester’, played by David Ogden Stiers, were in attendance, invited by the military.

These rare color photographs were taken at MASH stations in Korea in 1951 and 1952.

1952
A United States Army MASH field hospital on the Western Front during the Korean War, with tents and four ambulances with red cross emblems
Smith Collection / Gado / Getty Images
1951
US Army medics move a wounded soldier on a stretcher from a 568th Medical Ambulance Company ambulance into a tent for treatment at the 8225th MASH
Stewart / U S Army / PhotoQuest / Getty Images
1952
An uninjured US soldier (identified only as Murphy) lies on the stretcher platform of a evacuation helicopter at the 8063rd MASH
Sidney Schaer / Getty Images
1952
Portrait of Captain Nate Heard, of the 8063rd MASH
Sidney Schaer / Getty Images
1952
American military surgeon Captain Sidney Schaer (1921 – 1998) as he poses with the large sign for his unit, the 8063rd MASH
Sidney Schaer / Getty Images
1952
Exterior view of ‘The Kennels,’ a US Army tent at the 8063rd MASH. The tent is the residence of ‘Rustey, Dustey, Goldey,’ and features a red post box labeled ‘US Male’.
Sidney Schaer / Getty Images
1952
American military surgeons Richard Warren (1926 – 2009) (left) and Roger Wilcox (1923 – 2006) as they pose beside the sign outside the 8063rd MASH. Wilcox was one of the inspirations for Richard Hooker’s novel ‘MASH,’ as well as the subsequent film and tv series
Sidney Schaer / Getty
1952
Outside a tent at the 8063rd MASH Captain Mary Herndon smiles as helicopter pilot Hubert (Hugh) D Gaddis (1920 – 1976) holds up her brassiere
Sidney Schaer / Getty Images
1952
Four members of the 8063rd MASH (Mobile Army Surgery Hospital) as they pose together before returning home. Pictured are, from left, Lieutenant John ‘Mumsworthy’ Holden and captains Jim C Jones (who holds a pair grenades), Sidney Schaer (1921 – 1998), and ‘Clark’.
Sidney Schaer / Getty Images
1952
An unidentified vocal quartet, with accordion and guitar, performs onstage for troops at the 8063rd MASH
Sidney Schaer / Getty Images
1952
US soldiers stand at the side of a road as they watch M4 Sherman tanks, from the 2nd Division, drive past, near the entrance to the 8063rd MASH
Sidney Schaer / Getty Images
1952
A group of soldiers, several in costume for a camp show at the 8063rd MASH
Sidney Schaer / Getty Images

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