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In 1943, Lieutenant Michael Grayson is dismayed when he finds that his first assignment as a lieutenant platoon leader is to be at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, home of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a new outfit composed entirely of Japanese-American volunteers. When he requests a transfer to the 36th Division, his old Texas National Guard unit, Col. Charles W. Pence refuses and dresses him down for using the word "Japs" when referring to the men who will be under his command. Capt. Solari, Grayson's superior officer, explains that the regimental slogan, "Go for Broke," is pidgin English for "shoot the works" and assures the suspicious lieutenant that none of the men are spies. In the barracks, Tommy Kamakura, an impetuous volunteer, and Sam, a soldier sending a package to his family in a relocation camp, discuss the main reason they have volunteered--to show that they are good Americans, so that "relocations" will not happen again. As the weks pass, Grayson puts the men through rigorous training and the unit becomes proficient. Tommy is anxious to fight in the Pacific, because his parents were killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor, but Sam tells him they will not be sent there because they might be mistaken for the enemy or thought to be spies. The men are shipped out on May 1, 1944, with Italy as their destination. After some time in Naples, the men of the "442" march through the countryside to Rome. At a village town, a woman flirts with Grayson, and while he romances her, the unit moves out. He interrupts the tryst when he learns that her recent " amico " was in the 36th Division, and excitedly leaves to try to find his former unit. Captain Solari, who has covered up for Grayson, reprimands him for his antagonistic attitude toward the Japanese-American soldiers. A short time later, Tommy and Sam are invited by two soldiers of the 100th Infantry Battalion, the other Army unit composed of Japanese Americans, for some wine they found in a vineyard. Their party is interrupted when the four are shot at by a German officer and one of the soldierss from the 110th is killed. Tommy, Sam and the other soldier, Masami, blow up the Germans with grenades, after which Tommy finds a baby pig, which he keeps as a pet. After Grayson reports the incident, he again asks Colonel Pence for a transfer to the 36th Division, and the disgusted colonel says he will try to arrange it. Solari, who has become friendly with Grayson despite his bigoted views, argues that many in the Army have parents who were born in enemy countries, such as Italian Americans, like himself, and German Americans. When Grayson says that the situation with the Japanese Americans is different, Solari challenges him to state the reason, asking if it is because of the shape of their eyes, or the color of their skin. Soon the men are moved to another theater of operation, and during their march, a battle ensues among Roman ruins. Tommy is wounded in the leg, but courageously fires a mortar on target, and the unit captures a German stronghold. The German officers taken prisoner are shocked to see Japanese-American troops, and Grayson is won over by his men's courage. After landing in Marseilles, Grayson, though now proud to be with the 442nd, is transferred to act as a liaison officer at the headquarters of the 36th Division, to which the 442nd outfit is now attached. Some time later, the soft-hearted Tommy sees the suffering and hunger of a poor French family and sadly gives them his pet pig for food for the children. Grayson finds some of the 442nd at a bar, where his old platoon sergeant, Wilson I. Culley, is making racist slurs. Unknown to the men of the 442nd, who think the two are buddies, Grayson fights Culley in an alley for calling him a "Jap-lover." Later, Grayson is sent with Culley's unit as an artillery observer, and the unit is surrounded by Germans. Some of the 442nd, when they are told they are being sent to help, are upset, knowing of the unit's racism, but Tommy says this will be their chance to teach the Texans. As they approach, the 442nd begin to fire on the Texans, thinking they are Germans, until Grayson yells a Japanese word he does not understand, but which he has often heard. Culley, grateful for their arrival, surprises the men fo the 442nd by revealing the nature of the fight he and Grayson earlier had, and Grayson learns that the Japanese word he used means, "you're a stupid jerk and a heel." The 442nd rescues the besieged Texans, and after winning the battle, the Japanese-American and Texan troops part amicably. The 442nd returns to America, where, in a ceremony on the White House lawn, President Harry S. Truman and General Mark W. Clark honor them, and they are cited for outstanding accomplishment in combat, and is honored with a parade down Pennsylvania Avenue.