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When Capt. Russ Morgan, who leads the band at the San Diego Marine Base, learns that post-combat surgery required by Sarge, a fellow Marine, has been suddenly postponed, he and his superior, Col. Winters, go to see Capt. R. S. Handler at the base's hospital. Stating that Sarge is suffering from an underactive thyroid, Handler recommends to Col. Winters that, before he is hospitalized, Sarge, who has no family, be given a few weeks of rest away from the base. With help from Dean John W. McKinley, the barely literate Sarge passes the entrance examination at San Juan Junior College and enrolls there on a temporary basis. Sarge is immediately befriended by San Juan students Freddie Trimball, sisters Dodie and Betty Rogers, Roy Donne and Lee Watson, who are organizing the school's annual show. One night after rehearsal, while sitting with Dodie, his girl friend, in the city's park, Freddie confesses that he is depressed because they have no band lined up for the show. Dodie dismisses Freddie's complaint, however, reminding him that they are amateurs operating on a modest budget. Freddie and Dodie then find Sarge asleep on a park bench and learn that, because of a local housing shortage, he has no place to stay. Dodie and Betty offer to put him up at their parents' house, and Sarge is pressured into sleeping in Mrs. Rogers' bed. When an unsuspecting Mr. Rogers returns home late that night, he momentarily mistakes the sleeping Sarge for his wife, and both men are chagrined. Later, Betty fights with her boyfriend, Roy Donne, and, to make him jealous, gets Freddie to invite her to an upcoming school dance by telling him that Dodie is going with Sarge. At rehearsal, Freddie refuses to speak to Dodie, and Roy picks a fight with Freddie when he hears that he is taking Betty to the dance. During the ensuing brawl, Roy knocks out Freddie, and while Freddie is being treated at the hospital, Sarge overhears Betty, who has confessed her subterfuge, accuse her sister of spending too much time with him. Feeling responsible for his friend's predicament, Sarge leaves without a word. After Freddie is released from the hospital, Dodie finds an apologetic note from Sarge, who has returned to the Marine base. Later, as the show is about to start, Freddie is surprised to learn that Sarge has arranged for Capt. Morgan and his band to play for them. When Col. Winters then reveals that Sarge was operated on earlier that day, Freddie announces to the audience that he is going to delay the performance to call his sick friend. In front of the crowd, Freddie telephones Sarge's hospital room and wishes him a speedy recovery, then dedicates the opening number to him.