Only ten years old at the time, Tommy Spencer (Fredric Lehne) made a deathbed promise to his father to stay out of trouble and never enter into a fight with another man. Reared and counselled by his ever-reliable Uncle Matthew (Kenny Rogers), young Tommy grows up to respect the good nature in people, but his nerve is tested when other young men in a small southern town consider him the 'coward of the county' for not volunteering to serve his country during WWII.
Stoically working two jobs, Tommy encounters town beauty Becky (Largo Woodruff) and falls for her charming ways, asking for her hand in marriage. But when feared town bully, Jimmy Joe Gatlin (William Schreiner), returns home from military training and discovers his unrequited love Becky engaged to Tommy, trouble soon rears its ugly head.
Unable to control his anger and frustration, once a violent man - always a violent man, Jimmy pays out on a defenceless Becky, forcing Tommy to decide whether to honour his father's last wish or chivalrously defend the honour of his beloved Becky.