A Pets For Vets Match Story

Cathy Mcdonough-Drake

Cathy McDonough Drake received her robo dog, Bingo, shortly before she died at age 96.   Cathy was a former Army nurse whose experiences and service at a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital in South Korea, along with her late husband, Dr. Dale Drake, contributed to the background and provided the inspiration for the novel, movie, and long-running TV series M*A*S*H.

Cathy joined the Army Nursing Corps in 1949 and achieved the rank of First Lieutenant. She was stationed at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C. when in 1950, she was assigned to the 171st Evacuation Hospital in Korea. She was then assigned to the 8077th MASH unit in South Korea, which was later moved to North Korea. From there, she was assigned to Japan, and then back to South Korea to the 8055th MASH unit.  

The M*A*S*H phenomena originated about 10 years after the Korean War during a visit by Dale and Cathy to the Maine home of Dr. Richard Hornberger, a thoracic surgeon who also served with them in South Korea at the 8055 MASH unit. Unknown to Dale and Cathy at the time of their visit, Dr. Hornberger had begun compiling a fictionalized collection of stories based on the experiences of his fellow doctors and nurses at the 8055 MASH unit. He later cited this evening of reminiscing and storytelling with Dale and Cathy as providing the impetus for him to finish his manuscript. The resulting book, published in 1968 under his pen name Richard Hooker as M*A*S*H: A Novel About Three Army Doctors, was soon followed by the 1970 Robert Altman film, M*A*S*H, and the TV series M*A*S*H, which ran from 1972 to 1983. Throughout the run of the TV series, Dale and Cathy were frequently consulted by the show's co-creator, Gene Reynolds, and many of their recollections and details they shared with him contributed to the show's authenticity and story lines of several episodes. Dale and Cathy were also prominently featured in The Real M*A*S*H, a 2010 documentary by Toronto based filmmaker Min Sook Lee that examines how the real-life experiences of several doctors and nurses that served in MASH units in South Korea compared to what was portrayed in the Robert Altman film and the TV series

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