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I guessed that draftees with lower levels of educational accomplishments got Enlisted ranks, whereas draftees with higher education got ranks of commissioned officers. But on what basis were they assigned differing ranks? Blake was lieutenant colonel, Burns and Winchester were majors, Hawkeye and BJ were captains, Mulcahy was a first lieutenant. Was it based on how many years of experience they had in private practice, or their age, or something else? If so, what was it?

  • Although it doesn't mention rank specifically, this answers a lot of those issues - movies.stackexchange.com/questions/15688/… – Paulie_D Sep 25 '18 at 11:24
  • @Paulie_D I had read that before posting this question. I'm interested in ranks. – prash Sep 25 '18 at 11:27
  • @Paulie_D Not sure I agree there. BJ was a fresh recruit when he was introduced to the show; he started as a captain. There must be some military document explaining allocation of starting ranks. There was no evidence in the show of Winchester and Blake rising up in ranks. Only Burns got promoted off-screen. – prash Sep 25 '18 at 11:36
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    I've found anecdotal evidence that doctors were drafted as Captains (preumably so they could order Lt nurses around) but then promotion was not guaranteed. Winchester certainly played the political game and had was an acknowledged expert. Frank not such a great doctor but could masquerade as a good administrator and be promoted. – Paulie_D Sep 25 '18 at 11:46
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Burns was an ROTC and reached the rank of Major in the Army Reserves.

It's never explained how Winchester achieved the rank of Major, but it's assumed it's based on his tenure and expertise as a doctor. Before being drafted, he was in line to be Chief of Thoracic Surgery at Boston General.

Hawkeye and BJ presumably went through the training program, as they were both very new to the profession, which made them eligible to be Captains without any real authority. All doctors entered the Army as Captains.

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    M-A-S-H (hyphons instead of asterisks because of html markup) took place during the Korean War, but Blake is said to have earned a medal in WWII. Presumably, he had just risen through ranks by that point. – Johnny Bones Sep 25 '18 at 18:21
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    I would add that Hawkeye and BJ (and previously Trapper) were very disinterested in seeking promotion as well. – sonnik Sep 25 '18 at 18:59

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