The Real Rebel
in the Outfit
A character sketch of "Doc"
Ah just loves that Southuhn accent!
Imagine if ole Moseby Lovelace (the new recruit in the
episode "The Squad") had arrived in Second
Platoon just a season or two later. Eventually he would have gotten around to the
question, "Enny Ahkansaw bawys in this he-uh outfit?"
And one voice would have piped up in reply, "Yup."
Of course I hesitate to say what would have happened after that.
It would have been a rude awakening for poor ole Lovelace. For he would no sooner have
discovered a fellow Southerner (Doc), than he would have found out that his own
Southuhn-ness, which he counted on as being as deep as the bone, had really come by way of
some Burbank dialogue coach, and was in fact no deeper than a chicken scratch on sun-baked
Moseby Lovelace, you see, made the mistake that most would-be
Johnny Rebs make that of trying too hard to be Southern. Whereas any true
Southerner could tell you, being from the South isnt something you whack at and work
for, like a man chopping wood and making an awful bothersome noise in the process ;
rather, its something you wear as comfortably and quietly (unless youre a
Texan, in which case you feel compelled wear it loudly) as your favorite pair of slippers.
Thats how I know our Doc is one hundred percent authentic
down-home Dixie. He doesnt go around forcing "yall"s and
"aint"s and "lookee he-uh"s and "hoo-eee"s and his
mamas dee-lishus brown gravy recipe on the other guys in the squad like some six
year old trying out his new Christmas toy. Instead, hes just plain folks. He blends
in, but without losing his uniqueness.
And unique he is, too (along with his twin brother, the MP ...).
For without him, excepting a special case like Caje, and the occasional pretender like
Moseby Lovelace a poor mans Sergeant York (Tennessee boy, by the way) if ever
there was one Lt. Hanleys outfit would be completely devoid of Southerners.
In fact, looking at the personnel who come through Second Platoon, you are almost tempted
to conclude that, for the duration of the Second World War, the South had seceded once
again from the United States proper and none but a paltry few of her fair sons have stuck
around in the Army. So, thank heaven for Doc. He upholds the honor of the South with his
presence, and with his unflinching dedication to duty.
And what a duty he has ripping off ambulances (all for a
good cause, mind you), passing out aspirin, dislodging beans from kids throats, and
taking wild motorcycle rides through dusty vineyards. Being a frontline medic is
definitely not for the fainthearted. (Oh yeah, and lets not forget the
What intrigues me is that, coming from the South, Doc became a
medic in the first place. After all, that region has a proud warrior tradition, and has
produced some of the finest fightin men our nation has ever known Bobby Lee,
Stonewall Jackson, and George Patton (a Southerner by way of California), to name but a
few. And yet when a war came to his own generation, our Boy from Arkansas, no doubt raised
amidst endless tales of Shiloh and mock-battles of Yankees versus Confederates, chose as
his weapon not a rifle but a red cross.
Ive often found myself wondering just why he has done so. Is
it for religious reasons? Doc certainly knows his Bible (as all good Southern boys do),
and by God, he does take on the passion of a preacher-man at times, ladling out
righteous indignation with all the subtlety of a flamethrower. ("But Sarge,
theres a wounded man out there!") And yet this isnt Doc in his
Most times, hes as easy-going as a slow-winding, lazy river
(or a Hoagy Carmichael tune about same), with his laid-back grin and folksy manner.
Perhaps the reason behind Docs choice to become a Doc was more his own individual
personality than anything else. Hes the consummate calm in the center of a storm,
soothing the worried and the wounded, even occasionally taking on the role of
father-confessor and listening to the secret anxieties of the most private of men. (If Doc
can work such wonders on taciturn sergeants, just imagine how much he could have put
Braddocks nervous chicken at ease.)
I have just one small bone to pick with our serene and courageous
medic, and that is, I think he should have caught on to that boy Murfree (aka Captain
Klepner in the episode "The Long Walk") long before the latters scheme was
uncovered. Murfree was obviously suffering from a case of Lovelace-itis tryin
way too hard to be Southern. Poor Doc was no doubt so starved for Southern companionship
that he got took by the first man who came along spoutin sweet words about Andy
Jackson. We know, youll spot em next time, Doc. Beware the good ole boy who
speaks too freely about cornbread and white lightning he just may have gotten his
accent from Berlin U.
"Land of Honeysuckle and Magnolia?" Fiddle-dee-dee.
Copyright © 1998 by Dorothy Spangler.
All rights reserved.
Characters from the television series COMBAT! are the property of ABC-TV.
Biography of actor Steven Rogers
Real Rebel in the Outfit
About Doc #1
Woundings:Doc (Steven Rogers)