Alan Alda as Captain Benjamin “Hawkeye” Pierce, U.S. Army doctor
Korean War, 1950-1953
Air Dates: September 17, 1972 – February 28, 1983
Creator: Larry Gelbart
NB: Almost all screencaps below are from the first season, which aired during the 1972-1973 season.
Adapted from Robert Altman’s 1970 film MASH, itself inspired by Richard Hornberger’s 1968 novel (published under the pseudonym Richard Hooker), the Korean War-set series M*A*S*H lasted four times as long as the war it portrayed and broke new ground for serialized television, blending comedy and drama.
As one of the highest-rated shows in television history, M*A*S*H‘s eleven-season duration meant inevitable cast changes as characters from Hooker’s novel and Altman’s film were replaced with entirely new creations. Laidback commanding officer Henry Blake (McLean Stevenson) was replaced by the avuncular Sherman T. Potter (Harry Morgan) who always reminded me of my grandfather, “Trapper John” McIntyre (Wayne Rogers) was replaced by B.J. Hunnicutt (Mike Farrell) as Hawkeye’s partner-in-cocktails, and the bible-beating hypocrite Frank Burns was replaced by Boston brahmin Charles Emerson Winchester III (David Ogden Stiers) as the pompous ranking roommate in “The Swamp”.
Steadily present throughout the show’s run were chief nurse Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan (Loretta Swit), cross-dressing Corporal Max Klinger (Jamie Farr), gentle chaplain Father Mulcahy (William Christopher, though he was played by George Morgan in the pilot), and – of course – the martini-guzzling maverick surgeon, Captain Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce.
M*A*S*H will always be a special show for me as I remember watching the antics of the 4077th while getting ready for school in third grade. Even then, I had always admired Hawkeye Pierce’s laidback swagger, always getting the last word and the last laugh. No matter what my parents had laid out for me to wear to school that day, I almost always snuck a forest green flannel shirt and a set of dog tags in my backpack to wear over my t-shirt to try to emulate my TV hero… proving that taking sartorial tips from movies and TV shows is something of a lifelong habit for me.
As I was only eight years old at the time, I’m sure much of the show’s humor went directly over my head, but there were always moments that lasted: Hawkeye and Trapper heading out to defuse an unexploded “bomb”, Radar announcing Henry’s death, Hawkeye idly filing a skeleton’s fingernails, Potter and Hawkeye drunkenly shooting from a foxhole, and the iconic two-hour finale that remains one of the most watched TV broadcasts in history.
Finding clips on Youtube barely sustained my M*A*S*H nostalgia until the entire show was briefly available to stream on Netflix a few years ago. My girlfriend and I blazed through the first season, and I found myself both laughing (at jokes that I fully understood for the first time) and being emotionally moved.
The show was abruptly taken off of Netflix that spring, but my M*A*S*H fever was reawakened. Twenty years after I was sneaking my old green shirt into school to add a touch of Hawkeye to my daily look, I finally brought the whole look together for an affordable and comfortable Halloween costume (see here) that allowed me the extra bonus of guzzling martinis all night.
What’d He Wear?
OG-107 Type III Fatigues
Daily attire for Hawkeye and most of the crew at the 4077th MASH consists of the basic U.S. Army work uniform in OG-107, a dark green shade of 8.5 ounce carded cotton sateen designated as “Olive Green 107”. The OG-107 Cotton Sateen Utility Uniform was produced in three varieties over the course of its 37-year run:
- The Type I’s production run of 1952-1963 makes it the only OG-107 uniform that would have been realistically available to the characters on M*A*S*H due to its Korean War setting, and many characters – including Trapper John – wear it.
- The Type II with its mitred-corner pocket flaps was produced in limited numbers from April 1963 through 1964, occasionally sported on the show by Major Frank Burns and other characters.
- The Type III remains the most commonly seen model of OG-107 fatigues due to its long production run from late 1964 through 1989 when it was superseded by the camouflaged battle dress uniform (BDU). Major updates included pointed pocket flaps, cuff buttons, and removal of the waist-hem adjuster buttons. Although it wasn’t produced until more than a decade after the Korean War ended, the Type III model is worn by Hawkeye on M*A*S*H.
- The Type III also grew to iconic pop culture status when John Lennon wore one formerly belonging to a Sergeant Reinhardt.
More information about specific differences between the uniforms and which M*A*S*H characters wear which variations of the OG-107 uniform can be found at the Crabapple Cove tumblr page here. Interestingly, as Crabapple Cove points out, no one on the show – not even extras – can be seen in the historically correct green herringbone twill (HBT) combat uniform that was introduced during World War II and worn through the bulk of the Korean War.
But getting back to what Hawkeye and the other characters did wear…
Hawkeye’s OG-107 Type III “jungle jacket”, designated “Shirt, Man’s, Cotton Sateen, Olive Green Shade 107”, has the standard placket-less front with six sew-through concave buttons in olive drab matte-finished plastic. The two patch pockets on the chest close with the pointed flaps that were updated for the Type III, and they each close with a single button.
There is also a single button on each cuff, though Hawkeye invariably wears his shirt cuffs unbuttoned for an extra touch of insouciance. Hawkeye’s practice of wearing the shirt unbuttoned and untucked would have surely run afoul of any commander more strict than Henry Blake.
Hawkeye always wears a cotton short-sleeve crew-neck T-shirt in colors ranging from tan and khaki to olive and teal.
From the “Swamp” to the golf course, Hawkeye always wore his OG-107 Type III pants in the same 8.5 oz. cotton sateen cloth as his fatigue shirt. These flat front trousers have belt loops, front patch pockets with slanted side openings, back patch pockets with button-down flaps, and plain-hemmed bottoms.
The simple cotton web belt has been a mainstay of American military uniforms since its introduction to U.S. Army uniforms in 1937. In the more than 80 years since then, usage of this inexpensive, simple, and durable belt expanded to other American military branches and even organizations like the Boy Scouts of America.
While khaki, OD #3, and OD #7 had been the Army’s standardized color palette during the World War II era, the OG-107 takeover during the Korean War even extended to accessories like belts and thus Hawkeye’s belt consists of olive green cotton webbing with a brass tip and brass buckle box.
The M1948 boot in russet brown leather would have still been the issued footwear through the Korean War, so the black leather combat boots routinely hitting the dirt at the 4077th would have been yet another anachronism. In fact, it wasn’t until 1958 that black leather combat boots were authorized and quickly adopted with the earlier stocks of russet boots dyed black.
The “Boots, Service, Combat, Russet M1948″ and their black leather successors were reportedly optimal for both garrison wear with their smooth, polished grain leather uppers and for long marches with the Goodyear-welt construction, diamond-treaded soles, and the ankle support provided by eleven lace eyelets up the calf.
However, these black combat boots were modified in 1962 with the elimination of the cap-toe and a height decrease from 10.5″ to 8.5”, which also reduced the lace eyelets from eleven to nine. This model was nicknamed the “McNamara boot” as a nod to the cost-cutting Robert McNamara, Secretary of Defense to John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson from 1961 to 1968. Hawkeye wears these McNamara boots with no toe caps and nine lace eyelets throughout the duration of M*A*S*H.
Even the socks worn by Hawkeye and his comrades were OG-107, and these olive drab ribbed wool socks had to be high enough to rise above the tops of his boots.
Although most of his daily attire is anachronistic, Hawkeye’s M-1951 field jacket is accurate to the period depicted across the show. Developed and issued after the bitterly cold Korean winter of 1950-1951, the “Jacket, Shell, Field, M-1951” was an improvement upon the M-1950, itself an update of the World War II-era M-1943 field jacket. For harsher weather, a separate liner could be buttoned into the inside, and a separate hood designed to fit the M-1951 field jacket, overcoat, and parka could be buttoned onto the outside of the neck. (Read more about the M-1951 field jacket at olive-drab.com or Wikipedia.)
The M-1951 retained the four-pocket structure of its immediate predecessors, but the buttons on the pockets and front closure with replaced with snaps and the front closure was reinforced with a zipper. Buttons remained at the neck, on the cuffs, and on the epaulettes (shoulder straps). The jacket could also be tightened with cinch draw cords on the waist and hem. The cloth is a wind-resistant 9-ounce cotton sateen in the same olive drab (OG-107) color as Hawkeye’s fatigues.
Ever the rascal, Hawkeye’s underwear gets more screen time than you may expect from a show about this man’s army. In the first season, at least, he seems to sport military issue under shorts in the form of khaki cotton boxers that likely have the three-button fly on the front.
By the fourth season, Hawkeye got more brazen about his skivvies, once the target of Frank Burns’ wrath when the overzealous major catches him in a pair of periwinkle-on-white striped cotton boxer shorts in “The Novocaine Mutiny” (Episode 4.21).
The Aloha Shirt
Blue and white seems to be Hawkeye’s go-to color for casual wear, finding any occasion to embrace leisure with his cotton Aloha shirt with a navy-and-white “Hawaiian” print. In fact, this Hawaiian shirt with his fatigue pants is actually the first outfit that Hawkeye wears on screen, seen during a round of golf and gin with Trapper John in the opening scene of the pilot episode.
The shirt pattern consists of large white hibiscus patterns printed on a navy blue ground. The short-sleeved shirt has a one-piece camp collar, a plain front with clear plastic sew-through buttons, and a breast pocket.
While not an exact replica, gents who want to replicate the Hawkeye leisure look on a budget can pick up this navy-and-white hibiscus-patterned Aloha shirt made in Hawaii by RJC for less than $30 on Amazon. The reviews are off and on in terms of sizing and cloth quality, but I’ve found it to be comfortable on summer vacations and certainly durable enough to last the several washings it has been through.
On chilly days when a Hawaiian shirt would be less than appropriate, Hawkeye layers up with a chunky charcoal cable-knit shawl-collar cardigan sweater. Arguably a civilian garment, this sweater has five sew-through buttons on the front, with the second button missing, and patch pockets on the hips. The oversized cardigan wears long like a robe, and the sleeves fall off the shoulders and are folded back once on each cuff.
The cardigan makes its first appearance when Hawkeye is training Trapper John for his boxing match in “Requiem for a Lightweight” (Episode 1.03), and it makes the rest of its infrequent appearances during episodes set in cold weather, such as the Christmas episodes.
Particularly after grueling shifts in the O.R., cocktail hour calls for ultimate comfort. For Hawkeye Pierce, this means a maroon robe in pinwale-corded cotton. Though it may come as a surprise to some, the U.S. Army actually did issue bathrobes to its medical department (Source: WW2 U.S. Medical Research Centre.)
Hawkeye’s lightweight corduroy robe, which was auctioned in June 2016, is typical of these government-issued robes with its shirt-style collar and corded drawstring neck, waist belt, and “M.D. USA” embroidered in white on the left hip pocket.
When Hawkeye reluctantly assumes the titular duty in “Officer of the Day” (Episode 3.03), he indicates his disdain for the role by wearing his robe in lieu of a proper uniform, in addition to his hated gun belt (sans gun), black “O.D.” armband (which stands for Olivia de Haviland, if you ask Hawkeye), and a cowboy hat.
Before the maroon U.S.-issued robe, however, Hawkeye’s pilot episode loungewear consisted of a bright red cotton kimono with black and white Japanese logography and imagery printed on the front and back.
In yet another rare win for era-appropriate uniforms, M*A*S*H correctly depicts its officers’ service uniforms with brown jackets and khaki trousers that were reclassified as semi-dress uniforms in 1949.
The “pinks and greens” uniform, nicknamed for the pinkish khaki trousers and the green-leaning brown jackets, was the standard U.S. Army service uniform through World War II and the Korean War before it was phased out in favor of the green Class A uniform in September 1954. Now, more than 60 years after this uniform last saw service, the U.S. Army has announced its consideration of bringing back the iconic pinks and greens to supplement the all-blue Army Service Uniform (ASU) that was standardized within the last decade.
Hawkeye’s winter service coat in a dark brown (olive drab shade no. 51) 18 ounce wool serge has peak lapels, epaulettes for the officer’s rank insignia (silver captain’s bars, in Hawkeye’s case), and a single back vent. Hawkeye and his fellow officers all wear gold “U.S.” arm-of-service pins on the jacket collars with the gold caduceus Medical Corps (MC) insignia on the lower lapels.
The two box-pleated chest pockets and the two large bellows hip pockets each close with a single gold crested shank button that resembles the four buttons on the front, with only three visible above the matching fabric belt with its gold buckle. This belted winter service coat in OD Shade 51 was primarily associated with officers of the World War II-era U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF) until it was standardized for the U.S. Army by the early 1950s.
The semi-dress/service uniforms worn by the 4077th’s male officers are worn with khaki shirts and brown ties, the combination standardized by the time of the Korean War after a decade of the dress code’s evolution.
The khaki cotton poplin shirt had emerged as the standard “Class C” warm-weather service shirt in 1942, replacing the “Class A” white linen shirt. By the time of the Korean War, the shirt was designated “Summer, Semi dress, Army Shade 61” with a narrow spread collar, epaulettes, two chest pockets with mitred-corner, button-down flaps, and two-button cuffs.
The chocolate brown ties worn by Hawkeye and his cohorts are wool-and-mohair blend ties in the same OD Shade 51 as the winter semi-dress coats.
Officers across the U.S. Army and the USAAF were familiar with the puce-colored wool elastique trousers in “drab shade 54”, informally known as “pinks” for their pinkish hue (or “rosy glow”, if you will.)
While strictly a military-issued trousers, officers’ pinks have taken on a newfound popularity due to the pleated pair that Harrison Ford wore as Indiana Jones. By the early 1950s, standardization of military uniforms meant Hawkeye was issued a pair of less complicated flat-fronted pinks with belt loops, straight side pockets, back pockets with scalloped button-down flaps, and plain-hemmed bottoms. He wears another web belt, this one in a yellow shade of khaki with a brass slider buckle.
Before the U.S. Army transitioned from brown footwear to black footwear in the mid-to-late 1950s, Hawkeye and his pals appropriately wore russet brown leather derby-laced service shoes and dark brown cotton lisle with their service uniforms.
Hawkeye wears both the peaked officer’s caps and folding garrison cap with his service uniforms. When wearing the garrison cap, his silver captain’s bars are pinned to the left side.
Though he isn’t a follower of Army decorum, Hawkeye does seem to swap out for a dressier timepiece when dressed in his service uniform, sporting a gold wristwatch on an expanding bracelet when dressed in his pinks and greens.
A hallmark of Hawkeye’s rakish daily look is wearing his dog tags on the outside of his undershirt, considered a no-no by those in the know.
For much of the pilot episode, Hawkeye wears a brown bucket hat with a tall crown, a holdout from the camouflage bucket hat that Donald Sutherland wore for his portrayal of Hawkeye in the 1970 film MASH. Once the show quickly became an independent entity, the bucket hat saw only limited reappearances.
For colder weather, Hawkeye bundles up with a brown wool knit “watch cap” and occasionally supplements that with a mustard brown wool scarf.
Whether its the diffusing of an unexploded bomb or a drive into hostile territory, extreme situations call for even a non-combat officer like Hawkeye Pierce to don his M1 helmet, the U.S. Army’s iconic steel helmet that was standard issue from the start of World War II in 1941 until 1985.
The M1 helmet actually consists of two helmets: the “steel pot” shell over an adjustable-fitting liner, the latter of which could be worn on its own for hard hat-like purposes though it would provide little practical protection in a combat scenario.
Hawkeye also wears a wristwatch, a simple steel watch with a silver dial on a khaki fabric strap that differs from the black-dialed field watches worn by most of his cohorts like Trapper John (and certainly differs from the Rolex Submariner that appears to be worn by Henry Blake!)
What to Imbibe
Swill gin? Sir, I have sipped, lapped, and taken gin intravenously, but I have never swilled!
Hawkeye Pierce takes his drinking seriously, as his response to Frank Burns in “Chief Surgeon Who?” (Episode 1.04) illustrates. Gin is his intoxicant of choice, homemade in a rudimentary still constructed in his barracks, “The Swamp”, that he shares with fellow aficionado Captain “Trapper John” McIntyre. And in said still, “these guys make a gin that can melt your dog tags,” testifies the psychiatrist Captain Hildebrand in “Divided We Stand” (Episode 2.01).
Hawkeye drinks hundreds of martinis over the course of the show, including 37 in the first season alone… and that’s with an uncharacteristic zero martinis in seven of these 24 episodes.
Hawkeye: Actually, I’m pursuing my lifelong quest for the perfect, the absolute driest martini to be found in this or any other world. And I think I may have hit upon the perfect formula.
Trapper John: Five to one?
Hawkeye: Not quite. You pour six jiggers of gin and you drink it while staring at a picture of Lorenzo Schwartz, the inventor of vermouth.
(While Lorenzo Schwartz is a funny name, it was actually Antonio Benedetto Carpano who is credited with the development of modern vermouth in 1786 when the distiller infused white wine with herbs and spices to create a beverage so popular that he was forced to keep his shop open 24 hours a day.)
Hawkeye is loyal to his potable of choice, turning down celebratory champagne from Ho-Jon in “Cease-Fire” (Episode 1.23) despite rumors of a possible end to the war. “I’ll stick with gin,” Hawkeye assures him. “Champagne is just ginger ale that knows somebody.”
However, the potential cease-fire is one of several situations that finds Hawkeye and the boys enjoying their brew of choice, the fictional Star beer.
TV shows like M*A*S*H generally featured less real world products than movies due to product placement concerns, so fictional labels like Star must be deployed for the surgeons and nurses of the 4077th to drown their sorrows after long days of meatball surgery. The 1970 film, on the other hand, featured plenty of Budweiser and Pabst Blue Ribbon enjoyed by Hawkeye, Trapper John, Ugly John, Duke Forrest, the Painless Pole, and even Father Mulcahy.
Despite his position as an officer in the United States Army, Hawkeye Pierce is far more comfortable carrying a martini glass than a firearm. In fact, when Frank Burns orders him to don a holster and gun belt in “Officer of the Day” (Episode 3.03), Hawkeye responds with:
I will not carry a gun, Frank. When I got into this war, I had a very clear understanding with the Pentagon: no guns. I’ll carry your books, I’ll carry a torch, I’ll carry a tune, I’ll carry on, carry over, carry forward, Cary Grant, cash-and-carry, carry me back to Old Virginnie, I’ll even harakari if you show me how, but I will not carry a gun!
Two seasons later, Hawkeye was again memorably asked to take up arms in the episode “Hawkeye Get Your Gun” (Episode 5.11) when he and Colonel Sherman T. Potter find themselves drunkenly taking cover in a foxhole from enemy fire.
Col. Potter: I said fire that weapon.
Hawkeye: All right. (to the gun) You’re fired. (to Potter) I did it as gently as I could.
Although the venerable M1911A1 was the U.S. military’s service pistol through most of the 20th century, including the Korean War, the unreliable nature of .45-caliber blanks cycling through semi-automatic pistols at the time of the show’s production meant the Star Model B, a Spanish-made pistol in 9x19mm Parabellum, often stood in for the classic .45.
Functionally and cosmetically similar to a standard .45-caliber 1911 pistol with its recoil operation and single-action trigger, the Star Model B can be differentiated for its brass external extractor on the right side of the slide and the lack of a true 1911’s signature grip safety.
How to Get the Look
Hawkeye Pierce’s daily fatigues – and M*A*S*H as a whole – is a celebratory showcase of the U.S. military’s olive drab aesthetic, although the work uniform worn by Alan Alda shares much more in common with Vietnam War-era uniforms than the older garb that would have been issued during the Korean War in the early 1950s.
- Olive green cotton sateen M-1951 field jacket with zip/snap front, four snap-flapped pockets, epaulettes, and 1-button cuffs
- Olive green cotton sateen OG-107 Type III shirt with 6-button front, two button-down pointed-flap chest pockets, and 1-button cuffs
- Khaki cotton short-sleeve crew-neck T-shirt
- Olive green cotton sateen OG-107 Type III flat front pants with belt loops, button fly, patch side pockets, button-down flapped back pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Olive green cotton web belt with brass slider buckle
- Black leather plain-toe combat “McNamara boots” with nine eyelets
- Olive green wool socks
- Light khaki cotton boxer shorts
- Steel dog tags
- Steel wristwatch with plain silver dial on khaki strap
You can read more about authorized U.S. Army uniforms during the Korean War at the appropriately titled olive-drab.com.
Alda’s maroon corduroy robe and blue-and-white Aloha shirt were donated to the Smithsonian after the show wrapped, and photos of the screen-worn costumes can be found here.
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the series. All eleven seasons are commercially available, and I was very lucky to have recently received the complete DVD set from my girlfriend’s parents as a birthday gift.
War isn’t hell. War is war, and hell is hell. And of the two, war is a lot worse.
Alan Alda was one of only two main cast members who actually served in the U.S. military in Korea, having spent a six-month tour with the U.S. Army Reserve in Korea. The other cast member was Jamie Farr, whose two-year stint in the U.S. Army led him to Japan and Korea.