Hawkeye raised his eyebrows after dinner that evening. "You want us to what?" Sitting in an office with Hogan, B.J., and Potter, he determined that he'd just heard the most astounding thing he could imagine.
"It's nothing I haven't done before," noted Hogan as if he were discussing simple arithmetic. "They'll believe it just because they're told; it's the same with any dictatorship."
"I'll buy that," noted Pierce.
"And you're saying we go in as doctors, work on our men, and get them out...how?" The voice was B.J.'s.
Hogan explained. "I need to get details on how that M*A*S*H unit runs up there, but it seems like we can have a sub parked nearby to get a few, and use the choppers for the others." What I wouldn't have given to have helicopters for some of our missions, he told himself. Sure would have been easier than air drops.
"But we don't speak Russian," protested Hawkeye.
"So, neither do they." When the captains continued to complain, Hogan said "hello, how are you, I am fine" in a foreign language. "What language was that?"
BJ guessed "Chinese, I don't know."
"It's all Greek to me - which means it's probably Turkish."
Hogan smiled. "What if I told you it was Swahili?" The men agreed it might be, and asked if it was. Hogan said "well, Hawkeye said it was all Greek, so it must be Greek, right? Except it's not - it was Dutch."
Hawkeye quipped "well, then Dutch is Greek to me; now are you Finnish-ed." All caught the witticism and snickered.
Sitting up in his chair, BJ suddenly expounded "I think I've got it now. We don't know one language from the other; why should they?"
"Precisely," came the general. "Yeah, they might have more who know a little Chinese, but that's why you're Russians; plus you don't have to wear makeup like you would to look Chinese."
Hawkeye recalled the time he'd been in a jeep accident and suffered a head wound. He'd talked for well over an hour till Radar came and found him, so he wouldn't lose consciousness. The only rise he'd gotten out of the Korean family he was with was when he'd been expounding on the human hand, and began juggling. They hadn't understood a word he'd said. If they could be convinced he was Russian, just maybe...
"I won't say I don't think it's bizarre," noted Potter, "but it sounds like General Hogan's taken all the precautions, and it looks good."
"There'll be an escape route in case you're discovered, a chopper hidden in the hills near there can get you back to the 4077th. Now, we do have a couple days, and my other men won't be here till tomorrow, anyway. Still, I want us to be leaving for the North by 0800 the next day," remarked Hogan. Turning to Potter, he told him "a British doctor will be on loan to help you from Tokyo, in case you get swamped during this time."
"I understand, General. Just get my men - and those Allied men - back here in one piece," Potter emphasized.
"Well, this should be nice, everyone needs a little adventure in life, eh, Hawk?"
"If you say so," remarked Pierce. "Though my idea of undercover work is usually getting a nurse in bed with me." Hogan laughed. His man was right - he and Hawkeye had a lot in common.
The next morning, General Hogan got in line with the doctors for breakfast. "The best meal of the day," Hawkeye remarked, "everything's almost the right color. Usually we have meat and a salad, and what's brown should be green and what's green should be brown."
"Are you sure you wish to eat with these lowlifes," came the somewhat snobby voice of Major Charles Winchester ahead of him.
"I've never minded eating with the lower ranks; I've always felt we should live as a team, not just act like it on the outside." Hogan stared at perhaps the ugliest nun he'd ever seen sitting at a different table as they walked to their seats.
"I was referring to the fact they are so coarse in their habits...is there a problem, General, you seem suddenly preoccupied."
"Nun," spoke Hugan with a mouth full of food.
Winchester smiled. "Well, I'm glad that there are no problems. I hope you are enjoying your visit."
Hogan smiled as he wiped his chin. "No, I mean I thought I saw a repulsive looking nun."
Suddenly, Corporal Max Klinger, dressed in a nun's habit, walked over to the table. As Winchester rolled his eyes, Klinger greeted them. "What brings you to our happy hole in the ground, General?"
In response to the unspoken query, Hawkeye remarked "meet my sister, the sister. Actually, General Hogan, this is Corporal Max Klinger, the camp's court jester. Corporal Klinger, General Robert Hogan."
Hogan returned the salute, then expressed relief. "For a minute I thought I was seeing the second ugliest woman ever."
BJ was incredulous. "You've seen worse?"
"This one German general's sister looked like him in drag, but was over a hundred pounds heavier." To Klinger, he inquired "do you know Korean?"
"Sir, I know more about Korea than I ever wanted to know; I just want to get out of here pronto."
"Ever do covert work? Not that you'd look like a Korean woman, but maybe a Russian one."
"Are you crazy? I'm crazy. No soldier in his right mind goes around trying to get into a convent."
Hogan turned back to his meal. "Too bad, you don't look much worse than one of my men did when he dressed up as a lady for a couple covert activities."
Potter sat down with his tray. "I see you've met Corporal Klinger. He's been bucking for a Section 8 ever since this war began." Hogan nodded. This fellow, and the CO before him, have withstood him for a good while, then. I wonder how Klink would have handled Klinger? He snickered, considering that Klink was so gullible, he might have sent Klinger home in a matter of weeks. Of course, the fellow might also have wound up on the Russian Front.
Hogan had been unable to obtain a flier's jacket, but that was just as well. His presence still stunned Schultz as his son Albert, the doctor, pointed the table out to him before resuming his rounds. The guard absently said "hello, Sister, good morning, Colonel Hogan" before sitting down with his food. As he prepared to dig in, his eyes grew big. "Colonel...Hogan?" That man is everywhere, isn't he, Schultz surmised as he looked to his left, behind him at Klinger, then looked back to his plate and mumbled "Hogan, perhaps I saw, but behind me, I could not have seen what I just saw."
"Hey, Schultz, long time, no see." They stood and clasped hands warmly, Schultz warily eyeing Klinger.
"It is great to see you again." He smirked and jerked a thumb toward Klinger. "Up to some monkey business again, hmmm?" I know that's not a lady, he told himself. At least, I hope it's not.
Hogan smiled. "Well, yes, I plan to be, but he's not part of it."
Schultz sat back down and remarked "at least we are on the same side this time. Uh...you are doing it for NATO, right?"
Hogan laughed. Yes, his operation certainly had to make the ex-guard wonder at times. "We are, Schultz. Care to join me in a drink later; a couple of my men are coming in early today, and Carter's already here, in the recovery area."
"I already saw him; I gave him a stuffed bear for himself, and one for his little boy." The ex-guard remarked that "I do not drink any more, but Carter and I are going to join that Radar in a bottle of grape knee-high later."
BJ quipped "there's no way you'd ever fit."
"Oh, come on, since the end of World War Two I have lost twenty pounds," came Schultz.
"And gained what, fifty," inquired Pierce.
"Hah, you jolly jokers." The guard explained that "Albert said he had a surprise for me if I came up, and I suppose you are it." Hogan nodded. "I imagine your monkey business back in Germany helped you get that promotion?"
"You could say that." The general inquired "what have you been telling about that?"
"Well," Schultz explained, "I love to tell lots of tall tales to my kids. I usually do not tell exactly what happened, but sometimes I take little things I saw and make them very wild. It makes them feel good when I can tell them things about what I did during the war, and they can think like the entire nation was not so evil." He sighed a bit, grumbling. "Though I am beginning to believe my eldest, Oskar, is right. He is studying to be a Lutheran minister, and says he believes the dividing of our nation and of Berlin is a punishment from God for the Holocaust, that it will last a generation or more."
"The Holocaust was a terrible example of just how low humanity can go," Potter remarked.
Desiring to shift the topic to more pleasant things, Hogan was about to inquire into Schultz's toy company when he saw two people in British uniforms. One was a doctor, the other was a sergeant whom he quickly recognized as Peter Newkirk. Hogan stood and signaled for Newkirk to come over and join them. As Newkirk sat, he spotted Schultz and quipped: "Mighty glad to see me in me own uniform, huh?"
Wide-eyed, Schultz inquired as introductions were made "who else is going to show up?"
"Well, Carter was a surprise, though we can use him. We were gonna have this place we're going to bombed later, but now we might be able to take better care of it." Winchester, unaware of the planned excursion, inquired as to the place. "Just a little mission Pierce and Hunnicutt are going on with me, you'll find out after they're back."
"You're welcome to go instead, Charles," spoke BJ.
Winchester smiled. "Much as I would like to, this statement of finding out 'after they are back' smells too much like spy work, and we Winchesters do not spy on people."
Hawkeye insisted it would be fun. "You even get to impersonate a Russian; without even speaking the language. Besides," he continued, mimicking Winchester's voice, "I thought the thespian in you Winchesters would love a chance to play the fool."
Winchester appeared intrigued for a moment, but shook his head. "No, I'm afraid not. While it is true that we Winchesters do quite a bit of Shakespearean acting in our spare moments, I prefer to impersonate more of the pensive individual. A Hamlet, one who sharply analyzes every plausibility, rather than a love-starved Romeo who gets himself into something he shan't extract himself from readily."
Schultz wrinkled his nose and leaned toward Hogan. "What did he say?"
Hawkeye, overhearing, jumped in. "He likes to play people who think for so long they never get anything done."
"LeBeau should be showing up shortly," remarked the general. "I've invited him to leave his cafe and cook a dish or two when I've needed to wine and dine foreign dignitaries, and so I thought a chef would be helpful."
"Well, don't pit him against this food, it's beyond hope," declared Hawkeye.
"What good will he do up there," inquired BJ. "Or do their MASH units get actual food?"
"He'll work in a variety of areas, I'll tell you when we get there. Actually, drugging peoples' drinks might play a large part," he added.
Newkirk left and brought back the British doctor who would assist while Pierce and Hunnicutt were gone. After introductions were made, and breakfast consumed, Winchester left to show the new medic around the camp. Hogan, Newkirk, Hawkeye, and BJ went into the Swamp, where the doctors lived, and Hogan outlined his plans.
LeBeau arrived around lunchtime, and immediately wished he'd brought pizza-making supplies along. "I'd rather cook cardboard than some of this stuff."
"We were spoiled at Stalag 13," agreed Carter as they visited in the post-op room. The sergeant was trying to get used to crutches. "I mean, you cooked some great stuff. In the real military you can't just swipe things from the enemy or go out into the forest."
The Frenchman nodded. "Oui, it was your bad luck to get drafted again, I guess."
Carter shrugged. "Well, it's like the Father says, I know I'm gonna be running to see my Savior when I get to Heaven. And, I can do a little good here. You know who's the head of communications over in Tokyo," he inquired as Radar walked into the room.
"Kinch; Hogan spoke so highly of him when he got drafted this time, he went to officers' school."
Radar told Carter "General Hogan asked me to have you help me brush up on Morse Code, after you're done with some other stuff I'm not supposed to know anything about."
"Morse Code?" LeBeau raised his eyebrows, pronouncing that "I knew this was a poor area, but you mean they don't have telephones up there?"
Carter explained. "They do, but the General - boy, that still sounds weird - wanted something in case we had to contact him. Remember, he's supposed to be Korean, so he's not supposed to know English."
As Carter followed Radar to a telegraph set up next to the phone, the corporal remarked "from what I heard, they don't know English up there, either."
"A phone could be tapped, though, whereas they'd need to be on the right frequency and able to break the code with this."
Radar smiled as Carter pulled out a code book Hogan devised for this mission. "Wow, this is gonna be as much fun as when I got my Flash Gordon decoder ring when I was little. Did you guys do this a lot in World War Two?"
"Yeah," Carter remarked as they went over the Morse alphabet. "You know Sparky, the operator you always talk to?" Radar nodded. "His CO worked with us; he's a real communications whiz."
Radar thought a minute. "Gee, that's funny, as often as we've talked, you know I've never seen Sparky's face. Wonder what he looks like." Carter flipped out a picture taken of the Heroes on Liveration Day and showed him Kinch. "Wow, I never imagined a man like that at their base."
"I guess blacks are pretty unusual back in Ottumwa?"
"No, I mean a man with a mustache; everyone's expected to be clean-shaven back home."
At that point, Hawkeye and BJ walked into the room. "Greetings, tovariches," spoke Hawkeye.
BJ quipped "your tovar itches? Well, I can prescribe you some ointment, but I wouldn't be scratching it in public."
The others chuckled, after which Hawkeye said "we're going to learn a few common phrases in Russian, just in case, then Carter's making us up some good fake beards. I just wish Newkirk or LeBeau could make me a Russian uniform that doesn't itch."
"That's a good way to throw 'em off track." Radar explained to Carter "they never wear uniforms."
"At least they're not like that Klinger. I'd hate to see my doctor running around in a nurse's outfit."
Hawkeye spoke a couple more phrases, then announced: "By the way, guess what BJ stands for now?"
Embarrassed, Hunnicutt shook his head. "Come on, Hawk, they don't have to know that."
"Boris Jukovich Honicuski." He laughed. "BJ is now a 'Boris.'"
"Hey, as least I can still call myself 'BJ,' if you go back to Benjamin instead of 'Boris' you'll blow the operation."
"Hey, General Hogan has a way of getting out of scrapes; I've spoken English accidentally a couple times," Carter remarked. "He could have used someone like Radar; he'd have been a lot more efficient than me."
"Don't bet on it," BJ remarked.
"When Radar first came to us, he was so green and inefficient we thought he was a North Korean plant," quipped Hawkeye. Carter appeared dumbfounded, and Pierce nodded. "I'm serious, he improved so much in the first three months, it was incredible. Now we'd be lost without him."
"Come on, I'm not that important," Radar remarked, slightly embarrassed.
"You are when you realize your likely replacement wears dresses," noted Pierce.