Based on a play by Arthur Laurents, a black soldier joins a special mission and is traumatized by war and racism.
A doctor (Jeff Corey) says that Moss is paralyzed. Major Robinson (Douglas Dick) recounts what happened.
Robinson tells Sergeant Mingo (Frank Lovejoy), Finch (Lloyd Bridges), and T. J. (Steve Brodie) that he needs three volunteers for a dangerous mission. Peter Moss (James Edwards) comes in, and Finch knows him from school. Robinson calls Col. Baker and says that Moss is colored. T. J. refuses to go, but Mingo leaves it up to Finch, who says yes.
T. J. tells the doctor that there was a fight. The doctor gives Moss an injection to help him remember and asks him about the other men. Moss says that T. J. made cracks. Moss recalls playing basketball in school with Finch. Moss tells him why he did not go to his party.
The doctor asks Moss about the mission. The five land on the beach at night. Moss shares his fried chicken. Finch talks of opening a restaurant with Moss after the war. Moss surveys for four days, and they make maps. Robinson collects flowers and sends T. J. for a compass. T. J. bosses Moss, and Finch fights T. J. until Mingo breaks it up. Moss is upset by the prejudice. They hear a shot, and Mingo is wounded in the arm. Moss shoots down the sniper, and Finch makes sure he is dead by stabbing him. Finch goes back for the maps and yells at Moss. Finch is wounded and tells Moss to go. Moss goes back but can't find Finch.
Moss tells the doctor he has a bad feeling. The four wait for Finch and the ship. Moss got the maps, and Robinson won't let him go back for Finch. They hear Finch screaming, and Mingo distracts Moss by talking. Robinson sends T. J. to see if the boat they hid is there. Mingo says his wife found another guy. Moss stays to guard as the other three go to the boat. Finch arrives crawling and dies in Moss's arms. The ship arrives. Robinson and T. J. go back for Moss and hear shots. Moss says he can't move. T. J. carries him as Robinson shoots back. They get in the boat and paddle to the ship amid shooting.
The doctor asks Moss why he can't walk. Moss says he was glad when Finch got shot. The doctor explains that all soldiers are glad when someone else is shot, that it was not them. He says racists need help too. The doctor helps Moss realize he is not different. He makes him angry, and Moss walks.
Mingo lost his arm and is going home with Moss, who walks in. T. J. talks about Negroes, and Mingo tells him to get out. Mingo says he is different because of his missing arm. He asks Moss to be his partner in a restaurant, and they leave together.
This landmark drama reflects an important change when
President Truman integrated the US armed forces after the war.
The doctor helps the soldier realize that he is suffering from