M*A*S*H: Season 1, Episode 17

Sometimes You Hear the Bullet (28 Jan. 1973)

TV Episode  -   -  Comedy | Drama | War
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Hawkeye's childhood buddy drops by, and reveals that he is writing a book about his experiences in the infantry - experiences that may hit a little too close to home.



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Episode cast overview:
Private Walter / Wendell Peterson (as Ronny Howard)
Cpl. Tommy Gillis (as James Callahan)
Lynette Mettey ...
Lt. Nancy Griffin (as Lynnette Mettey)


Hawkeye's childhood buddy drops by, and reveals that he is writing a book about his experiences in the infantry - experiences that may hit a little too close to home.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Comedy | Drama | War





Release Date:

28 January 1973 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The title is based on the title of the book that Corproal Gillis plans to write about his experience in Korea. See more »


When preparing to award Frank the Purple Heart, Colonel Blake refers to Frank as "Franklin D. Burns." Frank's middle name is Marion. See more »


Henry Blake: Pierce, is there anything I can do to help?
Capt. Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce: It's the first time I cried since I came to this crummy place. I don't understand that.
Henry Blake: Well, Gillis was your friend. I mean, it's only natural that you'd, uh, you know.
Capt. Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce: Henry, I know why I'm crying now. Tommy was my friend, and I watched him die, and I'm crying. I've watched guys die almost every day. Why didn't I ever cry for them?
Henry Blake: Because you're a doctor.
Capt. Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce: The hell does that mean?
Henry Blake: I don't know. If I had the answer, I'd be at the Mayo Clinic. Does ...
See more »


I'm in the Mood for Love
Music by Jimmy McHugh
Played on Margaret's phonograph
See more »

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User Reviews

Captain Pierce's Reality Call!!
7 November 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Captain Pierce received a visit from Tommy Gillis in the beginning part of "Sometimes You Hear The Bullet." He visited Captain Pierce and Captain McIntyre in "The Swamp" in reference to his book he wrote as a correspondent. The actual title in his book was "You Never Hear The Bullet" in conversation. Tommy Gillis had a drink in their tent. He also told them about their past associations with one another in their school days. Captain Pierce had told Captain Gillis that he had a foolproof way to be the military draft ... or so it seemed at the onset of the Korean War. Little did Captain Pierce and Captain McIntyre knew that they were called for surgery; moreover, they would actually see Tommy Gillis alive for the last time.

In the second part of the episode, they were in surgery operating on a young kid on the table. Gradually, they found out the unknown soldier was actually a kid named Wendell Peterson. He entered the Army -- using a phony birth certificate. He told Captain Pierce that entered the service to show off his girlfriend back home. The oddity: he gave Captain Pierce two different ages just to enter the Army. He had done so after he had attempted to hot-wire a jeep to kill more Chinese soldiers in battle. After some talk, Captain Pierce had his word on not letting Wendell Peterson be turned over to the Military Police after recovering from his wounds in surgery ... or so it would seem to him.

Captain Pierce would face reality when his buddy arrived on the operating table in surgery. Tommy Gillis would eventually die on the operating table when a bullet hit his aorta. He became unconscious and later die after a brief stint in surgery. Captain Pierce and Lieutenant Colonel Blake would have a discussion about the rules of a war. Rule #1: Young soldiers die -- Rule #2: Doctors could not change Rule #1. Captain Pierce would realize that Wendell Peterson would be turned over to the Military Police and be sent home to his parents; moreover, he would realize that Captain Pierce would not be a pushover to Wendell Peterson's shenanigans. A Brilliant 10!! Recommended For Viewing!!

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