Hawkeye had lost all track of time. At first he kept count by making a mark with his finger on the dirt floor every time he thought an hour had passed, but he soon gave that up. The room he was in had no windows, so he was not even sure whether it was day or night. The soldier from earlier (whom Hawkeye had named Bob in his mind---Bob was the name of the neighborhood bully of his childhood) came in, this time carrying a piece of paper and a short, stubby, dull pencil. "Bob" was flanked by another soldier this time, a younger, friendlier-looking one, who told him in English, "Do with this whatever you wish. You can write a will, a letter to the commander here, whatever. However, if it is to your unit, you must know it will not be sent out while you remain here. Is that understood?"
Hawkeye, his mouth too dry to reliably speak anything intelligible, nodded his head in agreement. The younger soldier smiled at him and turned to "Bob." He spoke some words in Korean, then they both turned and left him alone again, except this time he had something to occupy the endless time with.
"I can't take this not knowing, Colonel! Can we send someone to the Aid Station or something? Please?" BJ pleaded.
"Hunnicutt, I know how you feel. I'm chomping at the bit waiting, but there's nothing that we can do. I'm not sending you or anyone else out there. It's far too dangerous and besides, we're expecting casualties," Potter answered reluctantly. In his heart, he wished he could say yes to BJ's proposal, but a commander had to make decisions with his head, not his heart. And his head said it was too dangerous.
Suddenly, there was a knocking outside. Radar got up and answered it, and a big man asked to see the CO. Radar pointed to the Colonel's office, where BJ and Potter were sitting, mutually down in the dumps and scared to death at the same time. The large man burst in and went straight to Colonel Potter. "I'm Digger and I'm here to pick up the body."
"What?!" Potter and BJ exclaimed at the same time.
"The body of a..." he looked down at the papers on the clipboard he was carrying, "a Benjamin Franklin Pierce. So, where is he?"
"No! Hawkeye!" BJ screamed, the scream emanating from somewhere deep in his gut. He collapsed onto the floor, shaking with rage. 'How could I do that to my best friend? How could I let him go when it should've been me?!' he thought and curled up into a heap.
Potter looked at him, then up at Digger. "He's dead?" he said in shock, numb.
"That's what it says here," he answered, chomping on his piece of gum. "Benjamin Franklin Pierce, deceased. He's here, isn't he?" He looked around, as if expecting to see a corpse laying in the corner somewhere.
"Oh no" was all Potter could manage to get out before his legs gave out and he fell back into his chair. "No. Not Hawkeye."
"Could we make this snappy? I've got other bodies to pick up," Digger said impatiently, like he was picking up a package rather than a person.
"He's not here..." Potter said in a daze. "He went to an Aid Station..."
Just then, Margaret walked in. Instinctively, she knew what had happened. She put her hand over her mouth as her eyes teared up and she ran from the room.
Hawkeye had used the paper and pencil given to him to write out his will, as suggested by the younger soldier. He was now done and had decided to read it aloud. He hadn't heard a voice in hours and it was starting to really get to him. "I, Benjamin Franklin Pierce, being of sound mind and endangered body, do decree this to be my last will and testament. To my father, I leave all my worldly possessions with the exception of the following." He smiled, happy with his work so far. "To Charles Emerson Winchester the Third, who during the dark days of war made himself available. You've been the victim of a ceaseless stream of dumb jokes, and though we may have wounded your pride, you've never lost your dignity. I thereby bequeath to you the most dignified thing I own: my bathrobe. Purple is the color of royalty. To Father Francis Mulcahy, I leave five cents. You're a man of God and I know worldy possessions mean little to you, Father, so I leave you a nickel and something I value more than anything I own: my everlasting respect. To Margaret Houlihan---to you, Margaret, I leave my treasured Groucho nose and glasses. Maybe it'll remind you of how much I enjoy that silly side you show all too infrequently. To Sherman Potter---you not only knew what to say, but what not to say. My dad's a lot like that. It makes me miss him a little less knowing that you're around. My father called me 'Hawkeye' after the character in The Last of the Mohicans. It's his favorite book. I'd like you to have the copy he gave me. To Maxwell Q. Klinger---you may be one of the all-time scroungers, but when it comes right down to it you'd give a friend the shirt off your back, so the least I can do is give you the shirt off mine. And not just any old shirt, but my beloved Hawaiian shirt. I hope you'll wear it even if someday it does go out of style. To Radar, my naive 'little brother'---Radar, you came to Korea a boy but since then you've turned into a man. Therefore, I leave you the most grown-up thing I own: my magazines. You know which ones I mean. You may not be ready for them yet, but someday you will be. To BJ Hunnicutt, my best friend: nothing I own can adequately express how much you've meant to me so I am leaving you the attached letter. I know that it's not much, but I hope that it's enough to let you know just how special you are to me. This concludes my last will and testament." He signed it "Benjamin Franklin Pierce" and sat it down sadly. He couldn't believe that he really felt he had to write his will. It was almost unreal that he was seriously considering the fact that he might die. Unreal, but not unreal enough. Now what was he supposed to do for the rest of the time? He didn't have enough paper to write his letter to BJ on, so he decided to try to go to sleep. 'Try' being the operative word. He was in so much pain he didn't know if he could. He laid down and stared at the wall, trying to clear his mind.
"BJ can't seem to get out of it," Klinger noticed as he tried to lift BJ off the floor. BJ had been lying on the floor in the fetal position ever since Digger had arrived and had not stopped crying. He had even reverted to sucking his thumb like a lost little child. "And no one knows where Margaret is," he added to Colonel Potter. "Should I send the MP's?"
"What? Oh yeah, sure," Potter said distractedly.
'I don't think he's heard a single word I said,' he thought.
The camp had taken the news of Hawkeye's death in various ways. Margaret had run away, BJ had become like a little child, Klinger had gone into work mode, Radar had gone into almost a catatonic state, Charles had walked around making sure to avoid the Swamp, and Potter had become dazed. There was no telling what everyone else in camp would do once they were told. Potter had taken it upon himself to inform Hawkeye's closest friends, and then later that evening the rest of the compound would be told. The next day a memorial service was planned.
"And then I'll call Dr. Freedman. This will hit the camp awful hard," Klinger added.
Potter stared in silence. Klinger wasn't even sure if he had heard him talking at all. He decided that he would have to take some initiative to keep the camp up and running. He went to the phone and called first the MP's and then Sidney Freedman. He knew Freedman was a friend of Hawkeye's, and felt he shouldn't give him news like this over the phone. So all he told him was that it was an emergency and that he was needed urgently. Sidney seemed a little confused that Radar hadn't been the one to call, but he just answered that he would be there later in the evening. Klinger hung up and went over to the desk to make sure all the forms and such were filled out and filed. Radar had finished the daily reports, so he had some time to relax. But he didn't want to relax. He was strung too tightly. He got started on the next day's daily reports.
Hawkeye was awakened by a sharp blow to his stomach. He looked up, right at the tip of a black, shiny boot poised to kick him again. He scrambled up and guarded his stomach with his hands. "Bob" was back. At least his translator was back too, so that he could explain himself. "I'm hurt," he told the younger soldier. He pointed outside, back in the general direction where he had been picked up. "I'm a doctor. I have my medicine bag out there. If you could get it for me, I could take care of my wounds." The translator turned and addressed his superior, who snarled at the young man. "I guess that's a no," Hawkeye said unhappily. "Would you ask him if he would at least allow someone to take care of my wounds?" The translator repeated what he said in Korean, and the officer turned to him. He seemed to look him over, then he turned to the young man.
He answered him, then the translator said, "He says he will send an officer out to get your bag. You may treat your wounds, but there will be two soldiers present. Then you must come before him in the main tent."
Hawkeye sighed in relief, even though he knew he would probably be tortured for information at the "meeting." At least he could get most of his wounds taken care of right now. He wished desperately that they would just let him go, but he knew that was an impossible dream. He would have to rely on his wits to get him out of this situation. "Bob" and his colleague left, and Hawkeye mentally prepared himself for what may come.
Colonel Potter, still dazed but feeling an obligation to reveal the terrible news himself, got up on a Mess Tent table during dinner and yelled to all those present: "I have an announcement. Everyone, be sure to be sitting. This is the worst news I could ever have to give and it's going to affect this camp deeply. Hawkeye Pierce is..." He took a deep breath, trying to calm the beating heart which was echoing in his ears. He continued more quietly, since he had everyone's attention and what he was about to tell them was of so delicate a nature. "Hawkeye Pierce is dead." Gasps echoed through the Mess Tent, forks and trays dropped, three nurses fainted. Weeping started, men stared in shock. Even Sidney Freedman, who had arrived earlier in the evening, was completely blown away. Tears flowed from his eyes in an endless stream.
"Bob" had returned, this time with Hawkeye's worn and battered medical bag. 'It's seen better days,' he thought. 'As a matter of fact, so have I.' He smiled slightly, but then winced involuntarily as he applied hydrogen peroxide to a deep gash on his shoulder. "Bob" watched every move carefully and intently. A tough-looking soldier had followed "Bob" into the room and stood at the door, his gun aimed levelly at Hawkeye's head. 'What has this world come to when a captor can't trust his prisoner?' He smiled at the ridiculousness of it all, but as "Bob" glared at him he immediately straightened his face again. He flinched as he applied dressing to a wound on his chest, and the armed soldier put his finger on the trigger. He relaxed when he realized that it was in pain. After five minutes of silence as the doctor worked, "Bob" grabbed him roughly by the arm and dragged him outside. He took a deep breath as the warm air from outside hit his face. He was brought to the largest of the buildings and "Bob" stopped to converse with one of the guards. The guard looked at Hawkeye in disgust and spit in his face. Hawk wiped away the spit so the guard kicked him hard in the shin. He laughed. As Hawk screamed in pain, the rest of the soldiers around him laughed harder. The door was opened and he was thrown inside. He hit the floor hard and looked up at an impressive-looking soldier. He was obviously battle-scarred, with a large, jagged scar along his right cheek and a chipped tooth. He smiled at Hawkeye evilly. Hawk thought to himself, 'How am I ever going to survive this?'