End of an era: Last operating MASH unit donated to Pakistan

The Army is replacing the mobile units with smaller casualty surgical hospitals closer to the battlefields.

By Damon Adams — Posted March 6, 2006

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The U.S. military has decommissioned its last MASH unit, marking the end of the mobile surgical hospitals that treated thousands of soldiers and inspired a movie and TV series that told the tales of Hawkeye and Hot Lips. The pop culture fame began after a U.S. Army physician penned the 1968 MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors about his experiences at a mobile hospital during the Korean War.

The Army on Feb. 16 turned over the 212th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital to the Pakistani government to aid in its earthquake relief efforts. The field hospital arrived in Muzaffarabad, Pakistan, not long after the Oct. 8, 2005, disaster.

The MASH will keep providing health care to Muzaffarabad until the local medical infrastructure is rebuilt, military officials said.

"We are very proud of the MASH's service to the people of Pakistan and extremely happy the MASH will be continuing its mission in capable hands," Army Col. Angel Lugo, MASH force commander, said in a statement.

Since October, the portable 84-bed MASH treated more than 20,000 patients and provided 20,000 vaccinations to 8,000 people, according to the military. The facility is worth $4.6 million and features a primary health care and emergency medical treatment section, a surgical suite and two intensive care units.

Following the transfer to the Pakistanis, the MASH unit's American medical personnel were scheduled to return to base in Miesau, Germany.

The Army has replaced MASH units with casualty surgical hospitals that are closer to battlefields, a U.S. military leader in Pakistan told The Associated Press.

In 1970, the movie "M*A*S*H" depicted the high jinks of Army surgeons at a field hospital during the Korean War. A TV series of the same name ran from 1972 to 1983.

"The MASH will live on in Pakistan as their medical [practitioners] continue to deliver a high level of care in Muzaffarabad," Army Maj. Soo Lee Davis, MASH executive officer, said in a statement.

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