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Sweet, small-town girl Mary Kate Yarbrough is left at the altar by her fiancé, Dick Hallson, just as sophisticated Long Island heiress Whitney Young runs away from her bridegroom as she walks down the aisle. In New York City, bridal gown saleswoman Una Yancy dreams of someday buying her own dress, but her long absent fiancé, Archie O'Conovan, only sends her postcards. When a military parade passes by, Una see Archie among the sailors and decides that the only way she can be with him is to join the Navy herself. Soon, all three women report for induction at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station, near Chicago, and become roommates. Although Whit is late for her induction, she impresses Lt. Comdr. Staunton with her desire not to pull strings and to do something useful with her life. Mary Kate, meanwhile, feels terribly homesick and out of place. By the end of their initial six weeks of training, Whit, who excels at all of her tasks, becomes Company Three's recruit commander, but Mary Kate cannot get over her homesickness. One night, Whit who has learned from base plumber "Pop" that someone can get out of the WAVES if her homesickness makes her ill, tells Staunton of Mary Kate's feelings. Whit and Una set up a meeting for Mary Kate before the company board, but just before her testimony, Dick comes looking for her. Dave gives Mary Kate flowers and apologizes for his behavior, but when he talks of how "very fond" they are of each other, the passive Mary Kate realizes that he underestimates her and angrily decides to prove herself in the Navy. Soon the women are allowed to take liberty in Chicago. Although they separate, the three women later run into one another at a lady's tearoom, chagrined at their lack of male companionship. Hearing about a good place to meet men, Una and Whit leave Mary Kate, who prefers not to join them, and go to a bar. There Una and Whit meet an attractive man in civilian clothes, unaware that he is Lt. Comdr. Paul Elcott, the new base physician. After Whit secretly asks Una to leave, Paul plays along with Whit's bold flirting and accepts her invitation to dinner. Not wanting to use her real name, Whit says her name is Mary Smith, while Paul says that his is John Smith. During a romantic dinner at a nightclub, young WACS who are at a nearby table whistle at Paul, then send a note over, suggesting that he join them. Annoyed, Whit goes to their table and a fight ensues. The next day, Whit is called before the company board and has difficulty explaining her situation when an Army MP claims that Whit's attack was completely unprovoked. The board is about to discipline her when Paul arrives, in full military uniform, and testifies that their dinner was an innocent discussion of military life and that the WACS started the trouble. After being exonerated, a surprised Whit happily goes into Paul's office, but is surprised when he rebuffs her overtures and tells her that officers and enlisted personnel cannot fraternize. He lectures her about conducting herself in a way that will not disgrace other WAVES, after which she leaves, hurt. Just before their training is completed, the women attend a USO show and Mary Kate is shocked to see that Dick is one of the Navy performers. He later professes his love for her and, despite her protests, she realizes that she is in love, too. As Una dreams of an assignment in France, where Archie has written he will be stationed, a lonely Whit, who has again been rebuffed by Paul, walks home alone. The next day, Whit's uncle, Thatcher Kinston, visits and, seeing her unhappiness, says that she should fight for what she wants. Whit then decides to go to Paul's office and ask to see him about a "personal problem," but Paul refuses to see her, saying that the base psychiatrist handles personal problems. Staunton, who is in Paul's office at the time, guesses that Paul returns Whit's affections, but cannot make him realize his true feelings. That night, Whit decides to give Paul one more chance and takes the seat next to him at the base movie theater. Much to the annoyance of the other moviegoers, Paul and Whit start to argue over who should be the "hunter" in a relationship and Whit leaves in anger. At graduation day, Whit, Mary Kate and Una all receive orders to report for Washington for three months prior to overseas assignment. Mary Kate promises Dick to help him become a good sailor, but Una is frustrated to run into Archie, who will now be stationed at Great Lakes. Whit makes one more attempt to see Paul in his office, and by the time they say goodbye at the train station, he admits his love and promises to get a transfer to Washington as soon as possible. Finally, Dick, Archie and Paul wave goodbye as the women's train leaves the station.