[Introduction: This is a story idea that's been dancing around in my head for a while now, and I'm just starting to put it together, but I'm really proud of it and the way that it's heading. Hopefully you will find the format and the scenario interesting and different, I'm certainly having a lot of fun with it. Of course, Radar O'Reilly and the rest of the MASH 4077th belong to FOX, and, unfortunately, not to yours truly. All feedback appreciated. Enjoy!]

The Radar Recordings: A Story of Intersecting Voices

In late 1951 the United States Army created a program to ascertain the psychological effects of the Korean War on young American soldiers. Although the official purpose is unknown, rumor has it that the information was going to be used by the CIA in order to create the perfect Cold War warrior. Five top psychologists and psychiatrists were called to the front in Korea, where they examined a variety of enlisted men, usually in the form of recorded interviews. In December of 1951 the funding for this project was cut abruptly. The psychologists were pulled from Korea, and all of the information was destroyed or lost.

Half a century later, the Miller Center of Public Affairs in Charlottesville, Virginia acquired some miscellaneous papers and recordings in a box labeled 'Series 47358.' Thought to be a part of the Presidential Recordings Program, the tapes were given to a graduate student to prepare for transcription. Upon listening, however, the grad student determined that the tapes were of a different nature entirely. She followed official protocol to clear the tapes from the Presidential Series records and returned to her work. The small box remained untouched on her desk for several weeks.


One weekend in February of 2001, Cavan Fitzgerald stopped by her office to pick up some of the files she was currently working on. She was flipping through her files with a heavy sigh when the 'Series 47358' box caught her eye. After tossing the files onto her desk, she picked up the box, took a seat on the carpet, and began to sort through its contents, which she arranged neatly in front of her.

First came three reels of audio tape. Each reel was labeled with two sessions, the first with 'Sessions 1-2,' and so on, with corresponding dates in November of 1951. Cavan examined them and, finding them to be in good shape, she set them aside.

Next came a few small black and white photographs. None of them were labeled, and she took her time flipping through them. The first photo was of a military camp of some sort, with a variety of non-permanent tents and other structures. There was a sign in one corner that Cavan couldn't quite make out, so she crawled on her knees to her desk to grab a magnifying glass. Squinting at the picture she was able to read "MASH 4077."

"Mobile Army Surgical Hospital," she whispered, crossing her legs underneath her. Her eyes flicked to the tape reels. "1951. That's Korea. Hmm." She flipped to the next picture, which depicted a smiling young man with glasses. He was short and a little stocky, and he wore a knit cap with a little brim. Cavan used her magnifying glass to examine the stripes on his sleeve. "Corporal," she mumbled absentmindedly. Her eyes lingered on the picture for a minute - the young corporal's expression was so genuine it made her smile a bit. The next picture was of the same soldier. He still wore the knit cap and glasses, and now he also wore a thick scarf to guard against the snowflakes that were falling around him. He was looking away from the camera, a thoughtful half-grin on his face.

"Who are you, Corporal?" Cavan addressed the photo as she flipped to the next one. This final picture showed a group of people in the camp. The young man was there, on the end of one row, along with five other men, and all of them were smiling. With her magnifying glass Cavan made out two Captains, a Colonel, another Corporal, and a man who appeared to be a priest. Cavan flipped through the pictures one more time before setting them beside the reels.

The last items in the box were a set of papers, each with 'Series 47358' at the top. The papers appeared to be reports of some sort, listing the dates of the sessions on the recordings. There were other dates that didn't correspond to the reels Cavan possessed, but there were no names or locations, just sets of numbers. Some of the numbers repeated, she noticed - the same set of numbers appeared beside each of the November reel dates. Cavan quickly tired of the papers, though, and tossed them aside, leaning back against the wall.

"What is this?" she mumbled to herself, picking up the photos again. "I don't do Korea," she mused, studying the mountains in the distance of the first picture. Casting a glance at the files she should have been working on, Cavan gave a little laugh and picked up the first reel of tape. She got to her feet and walked to her audio equipment, where she removed the tapes she had been transcribing a few days earlier. She set up the new tape, closed her door, pressed play, then sank sideways into her overstuffed armchair. After a few moments of crackling silence, a voice was heard.


[REEL 1 - Session 1, November 11, 1951]

Voice 1: State your full name and rank, for the tape, please.

Voice 2: Ah, Corporal Walter Eugene O'Reilly, sir.

Voice 1: Thank you. Corporal, did your commanding officer explain this process to you?

O'Reilly: Yes, sir. Well, Colonel Potter said you're gonna ask me some questions. Like an interview.

Voice 1: Correct. Now, I want you to be totally at ease, here. I'm going to ask you some things, bring up some topics, and I want you to talk about them. This won't be a conversation - I'm not here to respond or give you feedback, I'll just guide you and record your words. How does that sound?

O'Reilly: Oh, that's fine, sir. As long as it doesn't take too long, I've got work to do.

Voice 1: I understand, Corporal. To that end, I'm going to meet with you for short periods of time over a few days. No session will be over an hour, and everything will be cleared with your superiors.

O'Reilly: Ok...

Voice 1: What I want you to do is to keep talking once you get started. There are no right or wrong answers, I'm just interested in hearing your thoughts, wherever they take you.

O'Reilly: Ok. Uh, sir - you never said your name.

Voice 1: For the purpose of these interviews, my name isn't important. If you want to call me something, Doctor is fine.

O'Reilly: Ah, ok, Doctor.

Doctor: Do you have any questions about the process?

O'Reilly: Um...lemme see. You're a - a shrink, right? Ah, are you here to - to find out if there's something wrong with my head?

Doctor: No, Corporal, but that's a good question. I'm not evaluating you on an individual basis, so to speak. I simply want your thoughts and they, along with the thoughts of other soldiers, will help us to understand certain aspects of the United States Army.

O'Reilly: [silent for a moment] Ok, Doc.

Doctor: Alright, then, let's begin. Are you comfortable?

O'Reilly: Yeah.

Doctor: Good. [sound of rustling papers] Now, Corporal O'Reilly, tell me about yourself.