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In 1952, in Korea, United Nations relief workers Ann Galloway and her assistant Sue are near the front line after administering medicine to South Korean refugees. When their jeep is hit by gunfire, Sue is killed and Ann rendered unconscious. Five hours later, Ann awakens and learns from rescuing British tank crewmen that Communists now control the area. After taking Ann inside the tank, the three-member crew, led by Sgt. David Kemsemmit, drives south to reunite with their troops. Soon they are met by a remnant of an American patrol led by Lt. Tom Flagler. Tom is trying to rendezvous with his Easy Company at a ridge farther north. David, despite his unexplained antagonism toward Tom and his reluctance to move farther into enemy territory, decides to merge his men with Tom's patrol, because they will be safer together. Ann, who majored in biochemistry, is put in charge of nursing Pvt. Dan O'Hirons, a seriously wounded man in Tom's patrol. As they travel, Ann watches Tom, intrigued at how he knows each man personally, and Tom confides to her that he must be able to gauge how each man will react under pressure. Later, two mortarmen, survivors of a slaughtered unit, join the group. After a small victory in a skirmish against North Koreans, Tom resumes the group's trek to the ridge. Although most of the men doubt that Easy Company is there, they follow him, and Sgt. Vince Gaspari, a professional soldier and family man, explains to Ann that Tom's instincts are rarely wrong. While crossing a plain, an explosion injuring one of the men alerts them that mines have been planted, so David volunteers to drive the tank across. As the tank sets off the explosives on its path, Ann and the men follow, stepping in the tire tracks. After safely traversing the minefield, the soldiers encounter a shrine, where a South Korean under Tom's command, stops to pray. While the others wait, David expresses his admiration to Ann and explains that he dislikes American soldiers, because one mistreated his sister during World War II. When Tom compliments Ann for the way she has conducted herself, he elicits her loyalty, but David jealously points out that Tom said what she wanted to hear. Later, Ann suggests to Gaspari that Tom thinks of people as tools to manipulate, but Gaspari responds that Tom keeps them alive. In the distance, a convoy of North Koreans is moving toward them, so Tom organizes an ambush, in which they hijack the trucks to appropriate gas for their tank. When a captured North Korean kills two Americans while attempting to escape, a fight ensues, during which he is crushed by the tank and his comrades shot. That evening, at the base of the mountain where Easy Company was last seen, Ann approaches Tom and accuses him of valuing people only for the job they do. Admitting that there is nothing beyond that, he aggressively kisses her. Ann stops Tom, and then stops David from fighting, forbidding him to use her as an excuse for his personal contention. The British crewmen also urge David to be rid of his bigotry and Gaspari advises Ann that Tom is someone who cannot love anything that loves him back. Meanwhile, Tom leads two men to the top of the ridge and discovers that the Easy Company has been massacred. Because his life has been centered around the company, Tom's morale is broken, but Ann suggests that he needs someone to love and explains why she is attracted to him. When a working phone line is discovered on the ridge, Tom contacts the colonel of an American command post, who orders that they hold the fort, until American troops, who have forced the Communists to retreat, show up. As Tom's men prepare to defend themselves, Ann reports that O'Hirons has died. Tom comforts Ann and professes that their feelings for each other are lasting and real. Then, Tom moves through the foxholes, talking to each man, and makes peace with David. In the valley, Air Force planes strafe enemy soldiers heading northward and a Navy ship fifteen miles away sends missiles to coordinates telephoned by Tom. The bombings are getting too close to Tom's group, when the telephone line goes dead, but Tom manages to repair the line in time to redirect the missiles. North Koreans flee up the hill, but Tom's men defeat them In hand-to-hand combat. Later, after the area is safe from the North Koreans, David, Gaspari and the rest of the men watch Tom with Ann and comment "a man stays alive so he can find things to live for."