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Richard John Melville III and June Blackburn meet during a naval review in New York Harbor. Each comes from a Navy family, but Dick wants to be a singer and June, having seen her father and brother die in the war, has sworn never to marry a Navy man. Dick's father, the retiring admiral of the fleet, is leaving to be superintendent of the United States Naval Academy and his dearest wish is that Dick will enroll there as a midshipman. Dick is determined not to, but when Admiral Melville accuses him of being afraid of failing the entrance exams, Dick takes the tests and passes. Ruth returns to Annapolis where she is a dance teacher and Dick accepts his appointment to the Academy to be near her. Dick is placed in a room with three other recruits: Sparks Brown, a radio operator from the South; Johnny Lawrence, known as Coxswain, a recruit from the navy ranks; and Cowboy, from the West. All the new recruits meet with hazing from the upperclassmen, but Dick, because of his father and his fame as a singer, is a special target of friendly teasing. Dick decides to leave the hated Academy until Ruth encourages him to finish what he started. Academically, he is at the head of his class, but he makes no friends. The admiral worries about Dick's limited social life, as one of the goals of the Academy is to create bonds between the midshipmen. After Ruth moves to New York to become a professional dancer and Coxswain flunks out of school, Dick is more alone than ever. During the class's final cruise, Coxswain is one of the ship's crew and proudly informs his former roommates that he has been reaccepted to the Academy. His patriotism and love of the Navy is embarrassing to Dick, who still plans to resign his commission at the end of his schooling. During a routine practice with the guns, one of the boilers blows up. Coxswain tries to shut off the leads and is overcome by the steam. Although Dick tries to save him, both men are badly burned and Coxswain dies. When he recovers from his injuries, Dick is greeted enthusiastically by the other men. Now he proudly plans to be a Navy man.