In 1966, the destroyer USS Manfred is bound for Vietnam. For junior ensign Jon Zachery, life is simple. He wants the American dream for his wife and for himself, and the navy is just the first step along the way. After the ship enters the combat zone, however, Zachery lands in hot water with his superior officers. At the same time, he begins to have troubles with his wife. He finds himself in challenging combat situations with the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong, but he is most distressed when he discovers that one of his roommates is rabidly anti-war.
Following two months in the combat zone, the ship gets a new commanding officer—and a new set of problems face Zachery and his shipmates. At first, his new commanding officer distrusts only the five ensigns in the ensign locker, but eventually he begins to distrust the entire wardroom. What happens next has a huge affect on the entire crew—ultimately resulting in the ship returning home to San Diego.
Now Zachery must face the anti-war sentiments at home, and it may be the last straw for him.