Richard Mast is a misfit in the infantry unit at Pearl Harbor. A bright mind in a sea of grunts, his only joy on the morning of December 7, 1941, is that today he has guard duty, which means he gets to carry a pistol. Usually reserved only for officers, the close-quarters weapon is coveted by every man in the infantry for its beauty and the sense of strength it gives the wearer. Mast intends to return the gun at the end of his shift—until the Japanese Navy intervenes.
Turmoil erupts when the first bombs fall, and as the Army scrambles to organize its response to the swarm of enemy aircraft, Mast decides to hang on to the weapon, becoming a criminal on the day his country most needs heroes.