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Dear Dad...Three (TV series episode)

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M*A*S*H episode
“Dear Dad...Three”
Dear Dad Three
Arguably Ginger's finest hour. She gets a smart salute from a respectful and much chastened Sergeant Condon after Hawkeye and Trapper give him "a lot to think about".
Season 2, Episode # 9
Number (#33) in series (256 episodes)
Guest star(s) Jamie Farr
William Christopher
Odessa Cleveland
Mills Watson
Bobbie Mitchell
Kathleen Hughes
Arthur Abelson
Louise Vienna
Sivi Aberg
Network: CBS-TV
Production code: K409
Writer(s) Larry Gelbart & Laurence Marks
Director Don Weis
Original airdate November 10, 1973
IMDb logo IMDB Dear Dad...Three
Episode chronology
← Previous Next →
"The Trial of Henry Blake" (K408) "The Sniper" (K410)

(broadcast order)

(broadcast order)

"The Trial of Henry Blake" (K408) "The Sniper" (K410)

(production order)

(production order)

Season 2 episodes
List of all M*A*S*H episodes

Dear Dad ... Three was the ninth episode of Season 2 of the TV series M*A*S*H, also the 32nd overall episode of the series. Written by Larry Gelbart and Laurence Marks, directed by Don Weis, it originally aired on CBS-TV on November 10, 1973.

SynopsisEdit

Hawkeye opens another letter to his father during a 'typical' day at the 4077th. The overall theme is the boredom of daily camp routine, but not without moments of intense drama such as when Hawkeye treats a bigoted sergeant who does not want blood "of the wrong color" or when another soldier is brought into the O.R. with a live grenade in his body.

Full episode summaryEdit

Hawkeye writes another letter telling his dad about life at the 4077th. The biggest enemy, he tells his father, is boredom. Life is so boring that Trapper ends up playing cards with Frank.

Later, however, things get more interesting. In the O.R. Hawkeye is operating on Sgt. Condon and sends Ginger off to fetch a bottle of plasma for him. While she is away, Condon whispers to Hawkeye to make sure that he gets blood "of the right color". He doesn't want the "darkie stuff".

Hawkeye is taken aback by the request but before he can digest it, Radar bursts into the O.R. to show an X-ray to Henry showing a soldier in the pre-op ward with a grenade buried in his body. Henry summons Hawkeye and Margaret to assist him. They clear the pre-op ward and there follows a few tense moments while they extract the grenade.

Later, while relaxing at one of the regular camp "Happy Hours", Hawkeye tells Trapper about his encounter with Sgt. Condon. Together they hatch a scheme to teach him a lesson. "Nothing violent," Trapper says, "just a bit of reverse prejudice."

They go to the post-op ward where Condon is still asleep and paint him with tincture of iodine which makes his skin appear darker. When Condon awakes, he asks a passing Klinger whether he looks darker than he was when he came in. Klinger, who is in on the practical joke, asks, "Are you sure they gave you the right blood? ... It's happened before." Ginger also comes around and adds, "They got you down as white. Good work, baby .... Relax. I won't give you away."

But Condon is not having any of this. "Get outta here!" he shouts at Ginger. This causes Ginger to retort sharply, "I'm a lieutenant, soldier. I don't care if you are passing. Watch your mouth," which stuns Condon into silence.

Later, Condon meets Hawkeye and Trapper demands to know if he had been given "the wrong color blood," Hawkeye and Trapper tell him that all blood is the same and ask if he had heard of Dr Charles Drew. Hawkeye and Trapper tell Condon that Drew invented the process of separating plasma from blood so that it can be more easily stored but bled to death in a recent car accident because the whites only hospital would not let him in.

A few days later, Hawkeye is at another "Happy Hour" finishing his letter to his father when Condon walks in. At first Hawkeye is alarmed to see Condon with hs rifle, but it turns out that Condon is shipping out and just wants to thank Hawkeye for fixing him up and for giving him "something to think about." On the way out, Condon snaps to attention in front of Ginger and gives her a smart salute, leading Hawkeye to tell his father that this made it one of the "happier Happy Hours".

The episode also depicts other aspects of camp routine some of which Hawkeye describes to his father: a volleyball game, Mulcahy practicing boxing, the "monthly" staff meetings which always disintegrate into chaos, watching home movies (in this case, sent by Henry's family), and bringing of guests from other units to lend variety to camp social events--in this case, Trapper brings a Swedish nurse to the Happy Hour.

The Charles R. Drew Story and the MythEdit

Hawkeye and Trapper referenced the story of Dr. Charles R. Drew. The irony of an eminent scientist who improved the process of storing blood bleeding to death because he had been denied a transfusion due to racial prejudice would have made an interesting plot point. Indeed, it could have been this very irony that Hawkeye uses to convince Condon of the error of his ways, but the story of how he died is untrue.

Hawkeye's account of Drew's achievements are largely factual. Although Dr. Charles R. Drew did not "invent" the use of blood plasma and the separation of plasma from blood, his work and that of his colleagues did contribute significantly to use of blood transfusions in medicine by developing the processes and standards for collecting and processing stored blood on a large scale. Drew's research focused deeply on the problem of how to "bank blood" and he set up an experimental blood bank in 1939. When World War 2 began, he was asked to direct the Blood for Britain project which delivered more than 5,000 liters of plasma to Britain. After this, Drew became assistant director for a pilot Red Cross project to mass-produce dried plasma which later became the model for the National Blood Donor Service.[1]

However, Hawkeye and Trapper's account of Drew's death are untrue. Drew was critically injured in a car accident in April 1950 and he did receive prompt and competent treatment at a segregated hospital but he died shortly after because his wounds were too severe. The widely held urban legend that he was refused treatment persists to this day, but has been debunked, especially by the eye-witness account of Dr John Ford, himself a fellow passenger in the car with Drew. Ford says that "no efforts were spared" in treating Drew, and his race did not limit the care given to him. Ford also said that Drew was not given a transfusion because blood flow from his brain to the heart had been blocked and a transfusion would have killed him sooner.[2][3]

M*A*S*H is often referenced and criticized as a source which serves to perpetuate the myth but it should be noted that the positive debunking of this myth from Dr. John Ford only surfaced in the 1980s. The script writers, writing in 1973, were not to know.

Other Research notes/Fun factsEdit

  • Hawkeye recites lines from Rudyard Kipling's "Gunga Din" while operating on Sgt. Condon. The choice of poem may not have been coincidental--Gunga Din also deals with the theme of racial prejudice. It is narrated by a British soldier serving in India who despises "Gunga Din" his Indian water bearer servant but who later comes to respect him for his bravery and devotion when Gunga Din sacrifices his life to save him.
  • The volleyball match at the beginning of the episode and the Happy Hours are good sources for identifying extras. Kellye Nakahara can be seen at the volleyball match, Sheila Lauritsen at the Happy Hour.
  • The grenade extracted from the injured soldier is of the type used for the M7 Rifle Grenade Launcher.

Guest stars/Recurring castEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. "Profiles in Science, the Charles R. Drew Papers," National Library of Medicine, accessed Apr 04, 2015 [1]
  2. "Southern History Slightly Half Baked," Wilmington Morning Star, July 16, 1980, accessed through Google News Apr 04, 2015 [2]
  3. "Question of the Month: The Truth About the Death of Charles Drew," Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia, Ferris State Univ., accessed November 19 , 2013 [3]

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