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As a busload of recruits arrives at a U. S. Marine training base, tough and seasoned drill instructor Sergeant Drake spots a long-haired youth wearing a flowing robe, beads, and sandals. Addressing the boy, Adrian, as "Lady," the sergeant makes it clear that he has no use for "hippies." To Drake's surprise, Adrian proves to be no problem: serenely accepting his G.I. haircut and military garb, he obeys all orders, fulfills all assignments, and, despite the lack of a high school diploma, scores top grades on all written tests. Drake asks the boy why he spends his rest periods either sitting in a lotus position or standing on his head, and Adrian explains that it relaxes him--just as Drake himself relaxes by making sketches of seagulls. Following a drill session, during which Adrian outlasts all the other recruits in holding buckets of sand at arm's length, Sergeant Drake develops a grudging respect for the boy and slackens up on disciplinary measures. After Adrian shows the other inductees how practicing yoga will help them endure holding buckets of sand, DePayster, a sadistic drill instructor, lashes out at Adrian during rifle practice for refusing to shoot at vital parts of a target figure. Further, DePayster goads Drake into such a fury by accusing him of having gone soft that the sergeant renews his harsh treatment of the men, so much so that one rookie attempts to slash his wrists. Depressed by the turn of events, Adrian deserts after taking his graduation exams. Drake, however, finds him at the bus depot and talks him into returning to the base. Learning that he has been denied graduation because of rifle practice, and that DePayster, who engineered the failure, will have him for "special" retraining, Adrian goes AWOL. Sergeant Drake pins up his sketch of the seagull as a reminder of the boy and goes out to face a new batch of recruits.