|“||You can cut me off from the civilized world. You can incarcerate me with two moronic cellmates. You can torture me with your thrice daily swill, but you cannot break the spirit of a Winchester. My voice shall be heard from this wilderness and I shall be delivered from this fetid and festering sewer.||„|
|~ Charles Emerson Winchester to Col Potter|
Major Charles Emerson Winchester III was a protagonist from the 6th through the 11th seasons of M*A*S*H.
Winchester was played by the late David Ogden Stiers.
A native of Boston, Winchester was born into a wealthy Republican family. His mother had been a concert pianist. Winchester had a sister Honoria and a brother named Timmy who had died at an early age. Winchester came up in a world of privilege. After finishing his secondary studies at the exclusive Choate Rosemary Hall, he attended Harvard for his undergrad, graduating summa cum laude in 1943. Attending Harvard's medical school he completed his MD in 1948.
After the marriage of Margaret Houlihan to Donald Penobscot, Frank Burns had a nervous breakdown in Seoul and went AWOL. Meanwhile at the 4077 there was a deluge of casualties that were made all the more difficult with Burns missing. In Tokyo Winchester had just defeated Colonel Baldwin at a game of cribbage in Tokyo, Baldwin decided to get back at him by sending him to the 4077 for 48 hours as a temporary fill in. Soon Burns got himself arrested after accosting a General's wife who resembled Margaret. The Army then transferred Burns away, and in their infinite wisdom cleared Burns of the charges, promoted him, and assigned him to a Veterans Hospital in Indiana.
Arriving in camp Winchester was appalled by the conditions of the camp and did little to endear himself to the other surgeons. However he was quickly able to save the life of a seriously injured doctor, impressing them with his surgical talents. Baldwin meanwhile arranged for Winchester to be permanently reassigned to the 4077 when Col. Sherman Potter requested a new surgeon to replace Burns. Winchester was overwhelmed by the fast pace of "meatball surgery" but quickly learned to adapt.
An excellent surgeon Winchester helped increase the survival rate from 94% up to 97%. Winchester was at first arrogant and aloof towards the others assigned to the 4077, however he softened towards the others in camp as time went on. He did however maintain his aloof and arrogant attitude in order to protect himself emotionally, trying very hard not to let the others in camp his sensitive side. His caring and sensitive side led him to act kindly towards others in ways that his predecessor Burns never would have considered. This included helping a concert pianist with a permanently damaged right hand learn how to adapt to his circumstances. It also included protecting a soldier who stuttered from an abusive CO, and donating chocolate to a local orphanage at Christmas with the condition that the donor be kept anonymous. Max Klinger learned of this and made sure to repay Winchester for the kindness he showed the children. When Hawkeye's father was undergoing a difficult surgery at home Winchester sat with Hawkeye, and had a heart to heart with Hawkeye in which he told Hawkeye that he envied the relationship the two had - stating that he didn't have that type of relationship with his own father.
Even though Winchester had the rank of Major, he took the rank far less seriously than Frank Burns did. When left in command he was generally content to let the camp run normally, although he did go too far in ordering creature comforts. Once Potter found out he dressed Winchester down, forcing Winchest to do a 100 yard flash across the compound. Unlike Burns he also did not send negative reports on Potter or the others up the chain of command, refusing to be an informer. Nor did he suck up to superior officers. When Colonel Sam Flagg arrived in camp, instead of trying to help Flagg Winchester instead set Flagg up, which got Flagg in considerable trouble with his superiors in the Army. It also angered local South Korean officials, who promised to take up the matter with their Army contacts. (It was the last appearance of Flagg on M*A*S*H, making it appear that Flagg was indeed punished for his behavior).
Winchester loved classical music, seeing it as a refuge from the barbarity of the Korean War and the rough conditions of the camp. However in the closing days of the war such music became a reminder of the war when five enemy musicians that had been POWs at the 4077 were killed.
At one point Winchester became addicted to uppers which he had been using to keep up with the fast pace of surgery. With the help of Hawkeye and BJ he was able to swear off the uppers.
In the closing days of the war the staff of the 4077 put together a time capsule. Winchester donated some of his liquor, saying that when the capsule was opened the liquor would be over 100 years old. He then noted to Hawkeye that they didn't include anything from "the infamous Major Burns" in the capsule. Hawkeye noted that he thought of putting in Frank's scalpel but didn't want to include any deadly weapons.
After the war Winchester became head of Thoracic Surgery at Mercy Hospital in Boston. Leaving he told Potter that he would look to his example when leading the other surgeons at the hospital. He then apologized to Margaret Houlihan for his anger over her using her influence to get him the position, before leaving the camp in a garbage truck.
It was revealed in AfterMASH that Winchester returned to Boston and had married his high school sweetheart.