New York City teenager Eugene Jerome starts military service thoughtfully yet patriotically prepared to take part in World War II. At boot camp in Biloxi, Mississippi, he faces the brutally opposed views of other recruits, which he must live with. Still they must bind, if not bond, facing the sadistic drill sergeant during their physically ruthless and mentally abusive training, which is heading for tragedy. Meanwhile, their boyish minds wander often to sexual frustrations, from obsession with potency (and escaping virginity) to prejudice against gays. Armed only with his sense of humor, Eugene is determined to leave camp with everything he came with.