Jason’s army unit gets a new soldier, Private Willis, a shy man whose timidity earns him a reputation for cowardice. He explains to Jason that he had seen the horrors of war but froze up, and has had dread feelings of fear ever since. Despite exhoratins by the other men to ditch him, Jason keeps him on. When they arrive at an abandoned town, news arrives of the Nazi surrender, but a young German sniper in the second story of a church doesn’t believe the news – Jason and Willis, who speaks German – try to coax the man down, with Willis showing fearlessness by dropping his weapons to gain the sniper’s trust. On the homefront, the Godseys are being prosecuted by the rations board for giving away merchandise without collecting stamps.
VE Day is depicted here with the first combat-based episode of the series. Thecentral story, somewhat borrowed from The Red Badge of Courage, is simply told, suspenseful, and ultimately moving. Gritty Jason is a far cry from his piano-playing alter ego. And Jim Bob, on leave from his Air Force training in Virginia, is trying to get home, dispute being guided, circuitously, by a local farmer played by black character actor Davis Roberts (Good Times, Sanford and Son). Private Willis is well played by Mark McClure, but not that Marc McClure (Superman, Back to the Future).
As this is VE Day, the setting date for this episode is May 8th, 1945.