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A young man must complete his work at a Navy Flight school to become an aviator, with the help of a tough gunnery sergeant and his new girlfriend.

Zack Mayo grew up without much parental guidance following his mother's suicide when he was an adolescent. His naval seaman father, who was stationed in The Philippines at the time, became his official guardian, a role to which he admitted he did not want. As such, Zack grew up to be a loner and without a true sense of home or adult responsibility. Regardless, he, as a young man, decides to enlist in the navy to become a jet fighting officer, with the initial thirteen week training to take place at the air naval station on Whidbey Island, Washington. He plans on taking as easy a route possible through training, even if it means bending the rules and cutting corners. The drill instructor, Sergeant Emil Foley, seems to relish humiliating the recruits - especially Zack - with the ultimate goal of making them "DOR" aka drop on request. Despite being warned against who are known as the "Puget Debs" i.e. local girls who try to trap the officer candidates so that they can escape their drab factory lives, Zack and his best friend among the other officer candidates, Sid Worley, take up with two possible Puget Debs, Paula Pokrifki and Lynette Pomeroy respectively. Zack's experiences with Sgt. Foley are an obstacle to him making it through the thirteen weeks without DORing, but also make him come to an admission of why he wants to become an officer. And his experiences with Paula, Sid and Lynette provide him with some grounding as to what it means to be a grown up, despite Paula and Lynette's outward goal of becoming officer's wives by whatever means required.


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