Radar O'Reilly is leaving Ottumwa

A veteran and Ottumwa icon spoke to his hometown for what may be the last time.

Don Shaffer, often referred to as Radar O'Reilly for the character he helped inspire, spoke to a crowd of over 50 people at the Ottumwa Public Library Tuesday.

Shaffer served in both the Korean and Vietnam wars. His personality during service created the legendary character of Radar O'Reilly in the book, television show and movie, M*A*S*H.

Shaffer is moving out east to be closer to his family next week, but he has mixed feelings on leaving his hometown. Most of all, he said he'll miss the familiar faces he's come to know over the years, some of which were in the library audience.

"So many old friends," he said. "There was a teacher here from Ottumwa High that I knew her parents, they were in the back row, they went to school with me in Eldon. And they remember me when I was a skinny, about to blow away kid down in Eldon."

Shaffer took questions from the crowd for over an hour, as he reflected on his time of service and the real people who inspired the cast of M*A*S*H. He said he is forever grateful to the army, which did great things for him.

He also said to not write him off Ottumwa completely quite yet. Word of a Radar-themed float at this year's Oktoberfest has reached the ears of Radar himself, and he said he would do his best to make an appearance.