M*A*S*H episode
“Iron Guts Kelly”
MASH episode-3x4-Iron-Guts-Kelly
Colonel Wortman (Keene Curtis) and Lt. General "Iron Guts" Kelly (James Gregory) greeting Henry (McLean Stevenson) in the 4077th Officers Club in the episode "Iron Guts Kelly" in Season 3 of M*A*S*H.
Season 3, Episode # 4
Number (#52) in series (256 episodes)
Guest star(s) James Gregory
Keene Curtis
Bobbie Mitchell
Byron Chung
Alberta Jay
Jeff Maxwell
Dennis Troy
Network: CBS-TV
Production code: B-304
Writer(s) Laurence Marks & Sid Dorfman
Director Don Weis
Original airdate October 1, 1974
IMDb logo IMDB Iron Guts Kelly
Episode chronology
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"Officer of the Day" (B307)

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Season 3 episodes
List of all M*A*S*H episodes

Iron Guts Kelly was the fourth episode of Season 3 of the CBS-TV series M*A*S*H, also the 52nd overall series episode. Written by Larry Gelbart and Sid Dorfman, and directed by Don Weis, it first aired on October 1, 1974.


General Iron Guts Kelly dies inconveniently in Houlihan's tent (perhaps the excitement was too much?!), so his aide sets out to make it appear as if the general has died gloriously in battle.

Full episode summaryEdit

General “Iron Guts” Kelly (James Gregory), one of the top generals in the U.S. Army, is arriving in camp. Henry is nervous about his arrival and tries chewing gum to cover the alcohol on his breath, but ends up giving the General a gummy salute when he and his aide, Colonel Wortman, arrive.

Kelly is impressed with the camp’s handling of wounded and observes Hawkeye and Trapper during surgery. After some mawkish platitudes for the doctors and nurses, it’s off to the Officers’ Club where Henry has a drink with Kelly and Wortman. Frank & Margaret arrive and Kelly is immediately smitten with the camp’s Head Nurse and, of course, Margaret is more than happy to dally with a General.

Kelly is delighted to have a photo taken with Margaret, but when Frank wants a photo, he proposes that Wortman have Frank give him a tour of the motor pool to see how well it conforms to the Pentagon's "new Franistan Plan". He tells Wortman to take his time, at least a couple of hours. Wortman understands and plays along. The General then retires to Margaret's tent for a nightcap.

In the middle of the night, Margaret bursts into the Swamp, telling Hawkeye and Trapper she’s in “terrible trouble.” She takes them to her tent where the doctors discover General Kelly dead from a heart attack after an evening of…recreating. Margaret and the doctors plan what to do but before are interrupted by Frank. So they put the General into Margaret's closet and Hawkeye and Trapper pretend to play cards while Margaret tries, with some difficulty, to get rid of Frank.

Hawkeye and Trapper drag the body to the VIP tent where they Wortman shaving his head. He’s shocked to hear of the death, but, wishing to preserve Kelly’s heroic legacy, wants to concoct a grand story about the General dying in battle on the front lines. Wortman wants Hawkeye and Trapper to sign a blank death certificate and he will fill in the details. When they refuse to go against their Hippocratic Oath, Wortman pulls rank and threatens court martial. Trapper says they'll be the ones with their hands on the Bible--meaning that they plan on telling the full truth of the matter at the trial.

Defeated, Wortman asks Trapper and Hawkeye to help load the General into an ambulance so he can personally deliver General Kelly to the front and stage his death. Frank watches as Hawkeye and Trapper load the General’s body into an ambulance, and then he goes to Margaret’s tent to ask her why there are so many weird things going on. As he sits on Margaret’s bed, he’s pricked by a general’s decorative star, but when he questions it, he gets thrown out of the tent.

Meanwhile Wortman goes to the camp office and wakes Radar and tells him to find a sector where some fighting is going on. At first Radar can't find much fighting, only "lots of diarrhea" but he eventually finds a battle.

Satisfied, Wortman leaves the camp office but before he can get to the ambulance, Igor and Dennis, who have been having a party, load a bunch of Korean call girls into the same vehicle and drive away. Unable to find the ambulance, Wortman goes to the Swamp to ask where it is. Hawkeye and Trapper, having heard it pull away, assumed it was Wortman driving the ambulance. Frank enters and tells them all the ambulance was full of “floosies”, and that he has arranged for a military police checkpoint to stop the vehicle and have the occupants arrested. Wortman, angry that his plan has gone crazy, storms back into the camp office to try to have the ambulance stopped at the MP checkpoint.

Just as Wortman arrives at the camp office, Henry takes a call informing him there was an ambulance accident outside camp, causing the vehicle to go over an embankment. He learns the Korean girls are OK, but General Kelly has died. Henry’s confusion is heightened when Wortman takes the telephone and starts ordering off-shore bombardment, jet attacks, and rockets for a “star-spangled banner” death for General Kelly.

Days later, Trapper and Hawkeye read in Stars and Stripes that General Kelly has died heroically in battle.

Research notes/Fun factsEdit

  • Alberta Jay has a brief role as anesthetist but doesn't seem to have any lines, and it is hard to say where she is. The only possible scene is the one at the beginning where Hawkeye and Trapper are operating on a patient in the O.R. when General Kelly drops in for a visit. The anesthetist is seated at the head of the table, and we only ever see her back.
  • Assisting Hawkeye in the O.R. is "Mr. Kwang". Hawkeye addresses him by name when he asks for more suction. However, it is not clear if this is Soon-Tek Oh who plays Mister Kwang later in the season in "Love and Marriage".
  • At the beginning of the episode, when Col. Wortman introduces General Kelly to everyone, he refers to him as a Lieutenant General (a 3-star general). At the end, however, when he's arranging a battle to place General Kelly's body in the middle of, he refers to him as a Major General--demoting him by one star.

Guest stars/Recurring castEdit