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At West Point Military Academy, cadet Rockwell "Rocky" Gilman is called to a board of inquiry to determine if he has been unduly harsh on lower classman Raymond Denmore, Jr. Raymond's father alleges that his son has complained that Rocky has bullied and hazed him. At the hearing, Raymond's lawyer, Lew Proctor, sets out to prove that Rocky is unfit and may even be criminally liable. Because of the serious nature of the charges, Rocky is adjured not to discuss the case with anyone, nor to leave his quarters. That night, Rocky breaks his date with his girl friend, Ann Daniels, without explanation. The hearing resumes the next day, and Rocky's friend, Cadet Sgt. Eddie Loughlin, takes the stand. Loughlin recounts how stoically Rocky withstood the rigors of academy training, especially in his first year, when his war injury was still troubling him. Rocky then takes the stand and speaks about his war experiences: Rocky is drafted in December 1941, and unwillingly becomes a soldier. When he learns that all soldiers must obey their superior officers without question, he applies for and successfully completes officer training. Rocky is placed in a regiment with his friend, West Point graduate Lt. Harry Daniels, and their friend, Loughlin. Harry is killed and Rocky is wounded during a battle against General Rommel's troops in Tunisia. Rocky spends two years in an Army hospital, and although he is awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, he turns down the medal and is honorably discharged. Rocky returns home to Brooklyn, and learns that his former girl friend has married. Rocky works five different jobs before realizing that he is unable to adjust to civilian life. On V-E night, the whole city celebrates, but Rocky is uneasy, feeling that people are dancing on the graves of countless soldiers, and instead goes to see Harry's family, including his wife Ann. Rocky concludes his statement by noting that he later enrolled at the Academy. John Craig, a nurse at the hospital where Rocky recovered from his war wounds, then testifies about his former patient: Rocky suffers from violent nightmares, but refuses to discuss what troubles him. When Dr. White gives him a drug to help him open up, Rocky finally reveals that during the battle in Tunis, Harry ordered him to make a counter-attack at a specific time, but Rocky inexplicably delayed the attack for three minutes, which resulted in Harry's death. Rocky is unable to explain the delay, and believes that he is a coward. At the hearing, Rocky refuses to speak about the battle, and agrees with Proctor's charge that he deliberately disobeyed orders. Proctor calls for an immediate court-martial, but the general hearing the case insists that Rocky have time to deliberate. That night, after receiving a note from Ann saying she is going away, Rocky sneaks out of camp and goes to see her in New York. Rocky tells her that he is resigning from West Point and can leave with her, but Ann refuses to accept that he is quitting after all his effort, and insists that he return to camp. The next day, Rocky continues to maintain that he caused Harry's death by his own disobedience. Pop Dewing, Rocky's adoptive father, unexpectedly arrives with three witnesses to speak on Rocky's behalf. The first to speak is Ann, who recalls the night she first met Rocky: On V-E day, Rocky first meets Ann and shocks her with his confession that he caused Harry's death. Ann realizes that he is tortured by misguided guilt, and although she is still in mourning, she tries to help him through his crisis. One day, she takes him to a West Point ceremony held to commemorate Harry's death. Rocky is uneasy at being in a military environment. Shortly after, Ann admits to her undersanding mother-in-law that she has feelings for Rocky. Mrs. Daniels then reads Harry's last letter, in which he tells her that he wants Ann to live normally if he should die. When Rocky comes over that night, he tells her that he has enrolled in West Point. Ann continues to see Rocky on holidays at West Point, but while he says that he cares for her, she is unsure if he intends to marry her. When Rocky breaks their latest date, Ann decides to leave him until he comes over with news of his resignation. Pop now calls White to the stand, who testifies that after looking over Rocky's medical records again, he realizes that there is a gap in his memory of the battle. A soldier from Rocky's regiment then speaks: After receiving Harry's orders in Tunis, Rocky marches ahead of the soldier as they approach a grove hiding German tanks. When the soldier goes back to help an injured comrade, Rocky is knocked unconscious by a nearby blast. The soldier returns for Rocky, who awakens and is unaware that he was ever unconscious. He is mortified to learn that the specific time appointed by Harry has passed, and destroys the tank, but Harry has already been killed. The soldier now says that because Rocky refused to speak about the incident, he remained ignorant of the concussion, which created the delay. Seeing that Rocky's record is untarnished, Raymond admits that he lied about Rocky's behavior during training, and the charges are dropped. Later, General Dwight D. Eisenhower speaks at the West Point graduation, and Rocky is among the proud graduates.