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I was thinking about putting in his scalpel, but I didn't want to include any deadly weapons.
~ Hawkeye, on not putting the scalpel belonging to Major Burns in the camp time capsule.

Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce was a primary protagonist of the M*A*S*H television series.

History

Hawkeye was a native of Crabapple Cove, Maine, and followed in his father Daniel's footsteps by becoming a doctor. During the Korean War he was drafted into the US Army and stationed at the 4077 MASH. Arriving at the 4077 MASH early in the war, Hawkeye worked for Lt. Colonel Henry Blake as one of the unit's surgeons, along with Frank Burns, Ugly John, and Captain Oliver Jones. Hawkeye's friend Trapper John McIntyre was also assigned to the unit and the two were often partners in crime.

As a young single doctor Hawkeye became quite the ladies man, dating many of the nursing staff at one time or another. As the years passed Hawekeye began to mature on his views about women.

Along with Trapper Hawkeye outclassed every other surgeon in Korea to the point that they could get away with stuff that would have landed anyone else in criminal trouble. More than one superior officer arrived in camp wanting to lay the law down to Pierce but came away so impressed with his surgical skills that they changed their minds. Blake for his part was more concerned about patching kids up than anything else, and tended to let Pierce and Trapper have their way.

At first Major Houlihan despised Hawkeye and his attitude towards authority, but as she witnessed how much he cared about others she changed her mind about him. The two even had a brief affair when trapped in the Korean countryside. Frank Burns for his part despised Hawkeye, even after Hawkeye had to correct mistakes that Burns made.

When Blake left the 4077 and died soon afterwards the US Army decided not to leave Burns in command of the 4077, but transferred the seasoned Colonel Sherman Potter in to take command. Additionally Trapper John had left and was replaced with the young family man B.J. Hunnicut. Hawkeye, B.J., and Potter bonded over their shared experiences in surgery, and became friends.

Hawkeye was overjoyed when his nemesis Frank Burns finally got transferred away after having a mental breakdown. His relationship with Major Charles Emerson Winchester was far less acrimonious as Winchester was an excellent surgeon. Winchester became friends with Hawkeye, and kept vigil with him when his father had to undergo a dangerous surgery.

In the closing days Hawkeye and some other members of the 4077 were heading back to camp on a bus after a trip to a beach. They had to keep quiet as a North Korean patrol passed by. Hawkeye angrily ordered a mother to silence her baby lest the sounds of the baby crying attracted the attention of the patrol. The mother smothered her infant. The horror of what had happened caused Hawkeye to experience a mental breakdown which required hospitalization. Dr. Sydney Friedman helped Hawkeye work through his issues and once Hawkeye confronted the issue sent him back to the 4077. Hawkeye found surgery far more difficult after his recent experiences, but was able to overcome his demons and operate on a wounded child.

After the cease fire took effect Hawkeye revealed that he had been planning to work in a big city, but he had changed his mind and was going to instead return to Crabapple Cove and work there as a doctor. It was mentioned in After MASH that Hawkeye had nearly given up practicing medicine before deciding to become a pediatrician. Journalist Clete Roberts later interviewed Pierce as part of a series on the members of the 4077 after they came home.

Trivia

  • The television version of Hawkeye Pierce was portrayed by Alan Alda. Reportedly Richard Hooker - whom the character of Hawkeye was based upon - did not care much for Alda's portrayal of Hawkeye.
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