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Gerald Meek and his fiancée Myrna McAllister are at the county courthouse to apply for their marriage license, when Myrna decides she must pick up the ring and leaves behind Gerald to finish the task. Before leaving, she chides the bumbling Gerald "to do something right for once." Once inside the building, Gerald runs into a court clerk, who, seeing a single man, assumes that he is there to sign up for the Marines and ushers him into the recruitment office. Gerald, thinking he is in the marriage license office, allows eager recruitment officer Sgt. Delaney to fill out his form. When Gerald wants to sign up for "life," Delaney tells him three years will suffice. Gerald, astonished by the simple process, readily signs the document, but soon discovers he has signed up for the U.S. Marine Corps. When Gerald exits the courthouse, Myrna hardly recognizes him in his uniform. Back at home, Gerald tells Grandma Meek that he has mistakenly enlisted and plans to go AWOL, but when Grandma reminisces about his patriotic grandfather, a Civil War soldier, Gerald decides to become a Marine. Meanwhile, Myrna is not about to let Gerald go into the service alone and tells her mother, Mrs. McAllister, that she is joining the women's Marines. At Camp Dante, after a few days of unsuccessful basic training, Col. Flenge assigns Gerald, Gerald's new buddy Partridge, and other troubled recruits to loud-mouthed Sgt. "Foghorn" McTaggert for special training. Meanwhile, Myrna has arrived at Camp Dante, leading a detachment of women Marines, and is immediately assigned two nights of duty at the colonel's headquarters. Unable to locate Gerald, Myrna enlists McTaggert, who promises to look at the camp roster if she will join him for dinner the following evening. The next day during special training, McTaggert drills Gerald and Partridge on general commands but the men cannot even hold a gun properly. Frustrated by their idiotic behavior, McTaggert assigns Gerald to work as an orderly for Corp. John Paul Johns, the bulldog who serves as camp mascot. Days later, Gerald, unaware that Myrna is at the camp, goes to McTaggert's office to request a pass to visit his fiancée. McTaggert ignores the request and instead has him deliver a note to his "new girl." Gerald delivers the note to the colonel's office and is shocked to discover McTaggert's "new girl" is Myrna. Myrna then explains that she was only flirting with McTaggert to locate Gerald. The next night, when McTaggert and Gerald argue over who is Myrna's date, McTaggert sweeps Myrna onto the dance floor. Despite Myrna's attempts to humiliate him with her antics, McTaggert persists in dancing with her. The next day, Gerald spies Myrna sitting on McTaggert's knee in his office, barges into the office and breaks up with Myrna. Later, Myrna explains to Gerald that she was only trying to secure a three-day pass so that she and Gerald could get married. Ecstatic that they will finally be wed, Gerald returns to his barracks to pack, but discovers that all the passes have been canceled because of special maneuvers. Soon after, McTaggert leads the men into the field where they wait for orders. While observing the maneuvers on a television in Gen. Garvin's office, the colonel and general discuss the bomb which is set to explode in the pillbox building. In the field, McTaggert spots enemy infiltration and orders Gerald to return to headquarters and report it. Gerald, incompetent at following directions, sneaks past a guard and into the bombing range. He soon reaches the pillbox and, once inside the building, finds John Paul and the dog's new canine girl friend. Back in the colonel's office, the general, colonel and Myrna spot Gerald and John Paul on the televised screen and rush to save him. Meanwhile, Gerald, mistaking the bomb for a hot-water heater, casually attempts to coax the dogs out of the building. Gerald finally realizes it is a bomb a few seconds before it is set to explode. Close by, Myrna and the officers witness the explosion, but Gerald miraculously escapes with John Paul and the female dog. Gerald is awarded a medal for his bravery and Myrna, who is loaded into a truck to be shipped overseas, promises Gerald she will be faithful while she is gone.