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Young Richard Gates, Jr., the scion of a wealthy family, is ecstatic when he receives a telegram admitting him to the Naval Academy at Annapolis. So are Southern Institute football star Roger Ash and ordinary seaman "Truck" Cross. After induction, the three boys select each other for roommates and get along very well, even though Ash doesn't take to the discipline at the Academy and is very conceited about his prowess on the football field. The good-hearted Dick becomes their mascot and makes the plebe football team despite his size. Retired coach Captain "Skinny" Dawes takes an interest in the boys, especially Truck, who reminds him of someone on his 1909 squad. Truck is as enthusiastic about the Navy as Dick is about football and Roger is about using the Academy to advance himself. One Sunday, while walking alone, Dick is tricked into making an infraction of etiquette against Harnett, an upper classman, and when he returns home, Roger and Truck discover that he has been severely paddled. Though hazing is a dismissal offense, Roger takes matters into his own hands and challenges Harnett to a boxing match, then bests him and wins the respect of his schoolmates. At Christmas, Dick invites Truck and Roger to his home for the holidays and the boys are touched by the kindness and generosity of the family. Both Truck and Roger are attracted to Patricia, Dick's sister, but though Roger is more aggressive in his pursuit, Pat prefers the more bashful Truck. At a Spring dance, Pat and Truck become close, but Roger still tries to pursue her. The next year, all three make the varsity football team and become successful, although Ash's superior attitude bothers coach Tommy Milton, who accuses him of being a slacker and egotist. After his talk with the coach, Roger gets drunk and goes A.W.O.L. Dick and Truck find him in a bar and take him out, but run into the coach. They are saved from expulsion when Skinny happens by and says that he had asked the boys out to dine and they had simply forgotten to get permission. One day, in class, when they hear a story about a drunken officer who shirked his duty and was stricken from the ranks of the navy, Truck jumps up and calls the story a lie and relates the real story about the man, who was not drunk, but ill when his ship went aground due to the incompetence of the navigator. Rather than blame the navigator, who had died, the man refused to defend himself at a court martial, but continues to instill a love of the Navy in his son, Truck. Because Truck did not use his full name, John Cross Carter, when enrolling, he faces dismissal, although Dick's father tries to help him in Washington, accompanied by Truck's father. Pat tells Truck how much she cares for him, as Roger overhears and realizes how fond he is of Truck and the Navy. While Roger prays aloud for Truck in front of Tecumsa, a statue at the school, Skinny listens in and resolves to help. On the day of the Army-Navy game, Dick and Roger leave while Truck stays in his room and a hospitalized Skinny listens to the game on the radio. Though Truck is dismissed by the court, he is given clemency and is told that his father has been completely exonerated. Now able to go to the game, Truck joins the team and Navy wins. When the football team gathers to strike a bell in the traditional ceremony of victory against army, Roger surrenders his place to the now recuperated Skinny.