1952 06 XX 00:00:00

Title taken from motion picture soundtrack


The Swampmen begin to have personal conflicts with Captain Frank Burns, a rich, arrogant son of a surgeon from the day shift. The arrival of the new Chief Nurse, Major Margaret Houlihan, restores order at first. However, being Regular Army, she instantly dislikes the Swampmen and sides with Burns. Henry decides to appoint a Chief Surgeon, and the job falls to Trapper, being the best surgeon in the unit. Burns and Houlihan conclude that the Swampmen are evil and Henry their puppet. They prepare a report for Gen. Hammond and later get together in her tent, where Frank stays until 1:30 am. The next day the Swampmen tease Burns and Houlihan about their late-night meeting. Trapper John calls Houlihan “Hot Lips” and Hawkeye provokes Burns into a fight. Henry is finally forced to send Burns stateside.

The man who hated Hawkeye the most was Captain Frank Burns. He had good reason. He was persecuted by Hawkeye Pierce. Captain Burns was the boss of one surgical shift, and Hawkeye of the other. Working times frequently overlapped, so some contact was inevitable. The more contact they had, the more they hated each other.

Frank Burns was the son of a general practitioner and surgeon in a medium-sized Indiana town. After one year of internship, and as heir apparent, he had joined his father in practice for three years before being drafted. He owned a thirty-five-thousand-dollar house and two automobiles.

Hawkeye Pierce had spent the same three years in a surgical residency, without salaray, and had been supported by his wife and hospital poker games. In Hawekeye’s opinion, Frank Burns, despite a definite technical competency, seldom thought and was a fake. In Frank Burns’s opinion, Hawkeye Pierce was an uncouth yokel who failed to understand that learning surgery from a father who didn’t know any was better than formal training in a teaching hospital.

Trapper John requested that he be properly crowned and transported to the mess hall by native bearers. This presented complications, as crowns are hard to come by in the Korean hinterlands, and the Korean houseboys, when asked to serve as native bearers, protested that they had not hired out as such. Instead, a bedpan was fastened to Trapper John’s head with adhesive tape, and Hawkeye, Duke, Ugly John and the Painless Pole picked up the sack upon which the newly crowned Chief Surgeon rested and, with the others following, bore it and him to the mess hall.

“Now y’all hear this!” the Duke announced to the assembled diners. “This here is your new Chief Surgeon. He has just been crowned, so y’all do him honor.”

Then the members of the Chief Surgeon’s court broke into song:

“Hail to the Chief,

And King of all the surgeons.

He needs a Queen,

To satisfy his urgins.”

Duke Forrest
Trapper John McIntyre
Captain Hawkeye Pierce
Captain Frank Burns
Colonel Henry Blake
Private Lorenzo Boone
Major Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan
Ugly John
Painless Pole
Corporal Radar O’Reilly

4077th M.A.S.H. (Double Natural)
The Swamp
Postoperative ward
Mess hall
Hot Lips’ tent


Major Margaret Houlihan, the new chief nurse, arrives. At the same time, in the post-op ward, Trapper observes Frank Burns blaming Private Boone for a patient’s death. During Houlihan’s tour of the camp, Trapper confronts Burns and punches him. This delays Henry’s appointing Trapper as the new chief surgeon. While Henry is away visiting General Hammond, the camp, led by Trapper, lets loose which causes Burns and Houlihan to write a report on the unmilitary goings-on. While doing this, they engage in a sexual encounter. Unbeknownst to them, this is broadcast over the PA system and leads to Houlihan gaining her nickname “Hot Lips”. The following day, Hawkeye quietly taunts Burns about the encounter to the point that Burns attacks him. This leads to Burns being sedated and shipped home.

Hail to the chief

Houlihan and Burns

“Is this The Bickersons?”

DELETED SCENES: Radar picks up the letter Frank deposited and delivers it to Hawkeye. Hawkeye tears up the letter. The doctors try to talk Ho-Jon into gathering some of his friends to serve as native bearers.

Lt. Colonel Henry Blake
Captain Dennis Murrhardt
Major Margaret J. “Hot Lips” Houlihan
Major Frank Burns
Captain Trapper McIntyre
Captain Leslie
Captain “Ugly” John Black
Captain Sacks
Captain “Knocko” McCarthy
Captain Hawkeye Pierce
4077th M.A.S.H.
Helicopter pad
Operating room
Preop ward
Postop ward
The Swamp
Mess tent
Hot Lips’ tent
Henry’s office


The relationship between Hot Lips and Burns lasts only one chapter of the book, but goes on for four seasons of the TV series. The episode Chief Surgeon Who? resembles this story with different dialog and one major plot difference: it is Hawkeye Pierce who is appointed chief surgeon.

Your new chief surgeon

Houlihan and Burns

“I was in practice only
three years, and I already
had a $35,000 house
and two cars.”

Donnie Love
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