Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Is your surname Blake, O'Donnell or Carpenter?

North Koreans aside, most TV-owners, I imagine, have at least glimpsed an episode of MASH at some time or another. It was a curiously affecting show since it purported to be set in the Korean war but was actually about another war entirely - the one in Vietnam.

The TV show ran for eleven seasons, so somebody besides me must have found it worth watching. It's a sobering thought that the Korean war itself only lasted three years one month and two days, or 1,127 days, so the 251 episodes of MASH cover the war at a rate of one episode every four and a half days of actual warfare.

If MASH is to be believed, in the Korean war there really was never a dull moment. In the real Korean war, around 36,000 U.S. military personnel were killed, or about 32 per day. This compares with some 58,000 U.S. deaths in Vietnam over 20 years. Which means 8 deaths every day. The war also accounted for eleven hundred British military dead out of 14,000, which translates to 8%. The equivalent U.S. death rate was 11%.

In the show, three MASH personnel were killed: a Lt.-Col. Blake, a driver called O'Donnell, and a Nurse Carpenter. So now you know.

1 comment:

  1. This is one of my most favourite shows of all time. I can still sit down and watch an episode and laugh at the humour. It was very well written.

    As a child, I knew there had to be something different about this show. My father, a Second World War veteran who saw action in Italy, Belgium and Holland, banned all war movies and shows on our television set. They made him angry or sad, depending on his mood.

    However, he really enjoyed MASH. He watched every show. Obviously there was something special about that show that relieved his pain.