M*A*S*H episode
“Father's Day”
Fathers day
Margaret invites her father, Alvin "Howitzer" Houlihan, to inspect a formation of her nurses.
Season 9, Episode # 4
Number (#202) in series (256 episodes)
Guest star(s) Andrew Duggan
Jeffrey Kramer
Art LaFleur
Network: CBS-TV
Production code: Z-405
Writer(s) Karen Hall
Director Alan Alda
Original airdate December 8, 1980
IMDb logo IMDB Father's Day
Episode chronology
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"Cementing Relationships" (Z‑401) "Death Takes a Holiday" (Z‑408)

(broadcast order)

(broadcast order)

"The Best of Enemies" (Z‑404) "Your Retention, Please" (Z‑406)

(production order)

(production order)

Season 9 episodes
List of all M*A*S*H episodes

Father's Day was the 4th episode of Season 9 of the CBS-TV series M*A*S*H, also the 202nd overall series episode. Written by Mike Farrell, John Rappaport, Karen Hall and directed by Alan Alda, it originally aired on December 8 1980.


Margaret's cold-hearted father, Alvin "Howitzer" Houlihan, comes to visit while the gang tries to conceal a stolen side of beef.

Full episode summaryEdit

Margaret gets news that her father--Alvin "Howitzer Al" Houlihan--is coming to visit her at the 4077th.

This sends Margaret into fits of nervous anticipation, insisting that everything at the camp be in perfect shape. She even suggests Col. Potter's hair could use a little trim.

After driving everyone crazy, "Howitzer Al" (Andrew Duggan) arrives, and Margaret is eager to show the camp off to him. She has her nursing staff submit themselves for inspection, and she's beaming with pride. But her father takes little notice, only giving her a brief acknowledgment of them and her efforts.

Later, when they're alone, Margaret slips and mention her parents' divorce, which seems to put her father in an even more terse mood. Later, in OR, Margaret is so nervous about the doctors' regular tomfoolery that she slams into a tray of instruments, causing them to crash to the floor. Right at that moment, she sees her father storm out of the OR, not realizing that his leaving is due to being unable to endure observing the bloody patients rather than anger at her.

Later that night, Margaret tries to talk to her father back in his tent, but he blows her off. After she leaves, he heads off to the O Club, where he joins Col. Potter for a drink.

He warms up a bit to Col. Potter, but his mood seems to darken again when Potter mentions how much he's looking forward to going home to his wife. Moments later, Hawkeye and B.J. wander in, and decide to try and make nice with Howitzer Al, "For Margaret's sake."

But within a few moments of sitting down, Howitzer Al attacks them both for their casual dress and demeanor, calling them both a disgrace to their country. Hawkeye and B.J. try and ignore him, but Howitzer Al gets so mad he knocks over their table and storms out.

The next morning, Margaret angrily confronts Hawkeye and B.J., blaming them for the confrontation the night before. They protest their innocence, but Margaret doesn't believe them, and is sure they're the reason her father has chosen to leave early.

Margaret then runs into Col. Potter, and breaks down in tears, revealing her shame at being such a disappointment to her father. Col. Potter tries to comfort her, and tells her that Hawkeye and B.J. were not the ones spoiling for a fight.

After she walks off in tears, Col. Potter visits Howitzer Al in his tent, telling him how shabbily he's treating his daughter. Potter's disgusted when he learns that Howitzer Al left the OR, not because of Margaret, but because he couldn't stomach all the blood--and he's willing to let Margaret think it was her fault rather than admit he couldn't hack it.

Potter then suggests that, now that Howitzer Al is in retirement and newly-divorced, "You don't have your men or your woman," but he does have his daughter.

Later, Margaret is stoic when her father packs up his jeep to leave. He begins to drive off, but then stops a few feet away. Margaret runs to catch up, wondering what's wrong. Howitzer Al takes her hand, and admits that he is, in fact, proud of her. Margaret's face lights up, and her father asks her to visit him in Tokyo. Overjoyed, she agrees, and he drives off, smiling and waving at her. After he drives away, Margaret beams with pride and joy.

In the sideplot, Hawkeye, B.J, and Charles work together with Klinger to conceal a stolen side of beef. One of Hawkeye's patients, in an act of gratitude, had rerouted General Beswick's beef so that Hawkeye would receive it disguised as "educational materials." However, the beef is frozen solid when it arrives- and will take at least a day to thaw before it can be cooked. Hawkeye & Klinger attempt to use the camp showers to thaw the meat but are intercepted by Margaret, furious at yet another "stunt" during her father's visit.

At the end of the episode the beef is successfully cooked & enjoyed by the entire camp. During their dinner, MP's show up looking for the stolen meat. Potter offers the MPs the last portion of the cooked steaks, so they will have no choice to report to General Beswick "There's no beef here!"

Guest stars/recurring castEdit


  • Houlihan claims he was with the 127th Cavalry Regiment; there was in realty no 127th Cavalry Regiment..although there is a 127th Infantry Regiment Wis Natl Guard
  • Howitzer means Artillery...not cavalry...