QUESTION: I'm pretty sure Colonel Potter outranked Colonel Blake. Did the show ever state or imply who outranked whom for the following?

A) Majors Burns, Winchester, Hoolihan

B) Captains Pierce, Honeycutt, Trapper

C) Radar or Klinger (before the latter's advancement)


ANSWER: Hi John,

You're right, Potter did outrank Blake, who was only ever a Lieutenant Colonel.

The others:

a] Winchester and Houlihan were both Majors [she was Head Nurse, and he was going-to-be a Chief thoracic surgeon, but other than that, and the fact that he was a man and she was a woman, their was no difference in their rankings]. Burns was of no higher ranking then the two of them until the very end of his time on MASH, when they received the phone call about Burns losing the plot and being discharged, and then being promoted to Lieutenant Colonel.

b] The only difference between Hawkeye, Hunnicutt and Trapper was that Hawkeye was the Chief Surgeon [in the TV series; Trapper was Chief Surgeon in the book].

c] In the Season 5 episode 'Lt Radar O Reilly' Hawkeye and BJ persuade a man - who owes them a debt - to abuse his duties and give Radar a promotion to Lieutenant. By the end of the episode Radar decides he doesn't like the new role, and gets a demotion back to Corporal.

He and Klinger are  the same ranking for the entirety of Radar's time on MASH, but in the 10th Season Klinger is promoted to Sargeant. So if Radar was still around, he would have outranked him.

I hope this has answered your question, thank you for submitting it :)


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I guess what I meant was, did Hawkeye have seniority over BJ, or vice versa (i.e., did he make captain before BJ did)?

I know that as chief surgeon Hawkeye would have more authority than BJ in the operating room, but if BJ had more seniority, then technically he could give Hawkeye orders outside of medical duties, but not vice versa.

Obviously, Burns could give Hawkeye and BJ orders outside of medical duties (even though they really didn't listen), but did he have the seniority to hypothetically give orders to Winchester or Houlihan?


Hi John,

When I was answering your recent question I realised that I'd never responded to your follow-up questions. I'm sorry, I have no idea how that happened.

If you are still interested, Hawkeye has seniority over BJ. In the two-part episode 'Welcome to Korea', BJ tells us how he was practically 'fresh out of residency' and Burns, going over BJs file, says that BJ is 28. The same was true for Hawkeye at the start of the show so by process of elimination we can assume that Hawkeye has seniority, especially since he has been at the 4077th for approximately a year [although who can tell with MASHs crazy timeline!].

I'm afraid I'm not equipped to answer the second half of the question because I don't have specific dates or ages on Burns, Houlihan and Winchester. I doubt that in the 1950s, and due to the fact they were matching in ranks, that Houlihan, as a woman, would hae no seniority over Burns - even though he did everything she told him to, anyway.

Again I'm really sorry for such a delayed response, and thanks for your questions.



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I can answer questions about all seasons, episodes and characters. Army regulations etc. are my weak point.


I have all 11 seasons of MASH on DVD. Though I've only been an avid fan of the show for a few years; I'm forever watching and rewatching. I have a solid knowledge of the people, plotlines, and quotes.

Graduated High School, completed a University Degree in Social Sciences.

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