The film begins with Zack Mayo receiving his "graduation present" from his
father, a brash, womanizing career U.S. Navy Boatswain's Mate formerly stationed at Subic Bay in the Philippines. Mayo moved in with his father there in early adolescence when his mother committed suicide. Aloof and taciturn with repressed anger at his mother's suicide, Mayo surprises his father when he announces his aspiration to be a Navy pilot. Once he has arrived at training camp for his 13-week officer's course, Mayo runs afoul of abrasive, no-nonsense drill instructor Emil Foley. Mayo — or "Mayonnaise" as he is dubbed by the irascible Foley — is an excellent officer candidate, but a little cold around the heart. Foley rides Mayo mercilessly, sensing the young man would be prime officer material if he were not so self-involved. Zack becomes friends with Sid Worley, a well-to-do boy from the "good side of the tracks". Both Zack and Sid meet two factory workers, Paula and Lynette, who bed the cocky officer candidates, and secretly want to escape their hometown and become "aviator" wives. Zack's affair with Paula is likewise compromised by his unwillingness to give of himself. Only after Mayo's best friend Sid commits suicide over an unhappy romance with Lynette does Zack come out of his shell and mature.
In the well-remembered last scene of the film, Ensign Mayo goes to the factory where Paula works, takes her in his arms and walks out holding her.
Ooh! Fortunately I've been able to buy it second hand from Amazon.