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In December of 1944, only days before Christmas, battle-weary soldiers of the U.S. 101st Airborne Division, stationed at an Army base in France, eagerly await their long-promised leave in Paris. Their hopes of a rest are dashed, however, when they are given orders to go to the Belgian town of Bastogne and hold back the 47th German Panzer Corps, which is advancing through Allied lines. Among those sent to defend the French town are Jarvess, a small town newspaper columnist; Holley, a girl crazy soldier; Roderigues, a Mexican American enlistee; "Pop" Stazak, an older serviceman from Wichita, Kansas; Jim Layton, a new recruit; and Kinnie, the platoon leader. Soon after the men arrive in Bastogne, they meet Denise, an attractive French woman who provides them with lodging. While patrolling the fog-shrouded woods near Bastogne, the American soldiers come under intense enemy fire and realize that they have been surrounded and trapped by the Germans. The American soldiers, fighting without air support, soon find themselves engaged in a long battle to keep the Nazis out of Bastogne. The stand-off exacts its first American casualty when Roderigues is struck by an enemy bullet. Unable to carry the wounded Roderigues through the snow to safety, his fellow soldiers hide him under an abandoned jeep and promise to return for him. A short time later, Holley and a small rescue party return for Roderigues, only to find that he has died. As the fighting in the woods near Bastogne intensifies, the American casualties continue to mount. Following a late night surprise attack on the division by a Nazi patrol, the Americans capture a number of Nazi prisoners and take them back to Bastogne. Greatly outnumbered by the Nazis, the men of the 101st Airborne believe their situation to be near hopeless. One day, Nazi officers attempt to negotiate an American surrender, but General A. C. McAuliffe, the highest ranking officer in charge of the operation, responds with just a single word: "Nuts!" A short time later, the Lutheran chaplain delivers a moving sermon to the defenders of Bastogne and reminds them of the importance of their mission. As the fog lifts around Bastogne for the first time since the Nazis began their counterattack, American bombers and relief planes are seen flying overhead. The men of the 101st Airborne Division rejoice at the sight of the planes, and the arrival of the reinforcements make it possible for the Americans to quickly defeat the Nazis. With their mission accomplished, the men of the 101st Airborne Division march out of Bastogne.