‘M.A.S.H’ Star Loretta Swit Recalls Volunteering at Ground Zero After the 9/11 Attacks

by Taylor Cunningham

While volunteering at Ground Zero after the 9/11 attacks, M.A.S.H. actress Loretta Swit gained a newfound faith in humanity.

In 2020, Swit reflected on her experience in New York City. Through her eyes, she saw a profound amount of love and dedication from thousands of strangers.

The actress spent most of her time cooking and serving “burgers, barbecue, coffee, and soda” in a booth outside of Javits Center. And she was handing it out to trucks and wagons full of people who “had come to New York City from all across the country.”

“The line was endless,” Swit told Fox News. “Each shift replacing the next. Inside the center, a shift was lying down, resting, sleeping, gearing up for the next bout. The cooking, feeding, and rest periods never stopped. It was a seamless line of dedicated, caring people.”

Loretta Swit also delivered hot coffee to the people who were searching for survivors in the rubble, which was a surreal experience.

“Parts of the building that still stood were being pulled down,” she continued. “The dust clouds in the air were a fog.”

Swit and the other volunteers had to wear gas masks while walking around the wreckage. And after they finished for the day, they also had to burn their clothing.

Their hours were long and grueling, and Swit admitted that “fatigue and adrenaline” were working with and against the other as they got through the days.

However, despite the obvious ugliness of the attack, Swit left with her “faith intact and invulnerable.”

“I’ll never forget those people — ever,” she continued. “I saw how we pulled together into one strong, resilient family. I remember a newspaper headline in Paris read, ‘Today We Are All Americans.’ Well today, we are all family.”

Loretta Swit Says Cast Was Always ‘Aware of How Very Special’ ‘M.A.S.H.’ Was

As she shared in a 2017 interview, Loretta Swit is proud of the M.A.S.H. legacy.

On the show, Swit played head nurse Major Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan. And the series became one of the most iconic in television history, for good reason.

M.A.S.H. aired at the tail end of the Vietnam War. And because the writers were against America’s involvement in the battle, it acted as a “commercial” to end the fighting. The show did so by blending comedy and tragedy in a wholesome and unique way.

But when Swit agreed to star in the series, she had no idea that it would become such a special piece of history.

“I don’t think you ever realize that,” Swit said to FOX News. “But I will say that while we were shooting, even from the very beginning, we were aware of how very special it was. The symbiosis, the camaraderie, the love and respect we had for each other. And the material, to be blessed with those gifted writers, starting of course with Larry Gelbart. So you had to know that this was going to be an incredible experience. That it turned into a phenomenon – no. There’s no way we could have predicted that.”