Construction workers are brought into the Navy so that they can be armed and defend themselves while two men love the same woman.
Wedge Donovan (John Wayne) greets his construction workers disembarking and learns five were killed because they were not armed. Lt. Commander Robert Yarrow (Dennis O'Keefe) says he wants to change this policy and asks Wedge to go to Washington with him. Captain Joyce (Addison Richards) tells them the men must be trained by the Navy; but Wedge wants his men armed right away and walks out.
On a ship the reporter Connie Chesley (Susan Hayward) talks with Wedge about working with Yarrow, and Wedge kisses her. Wedge is in charge of building an airstrip under Yarrow. Connie cooks for Wedge. Workers are ordered into the quarry because of a Japanese attack. Three men outside are shot by planes. The workers get rifles from a truck. The Japanese land on the beaches. Wedge's men start shooting before Yarrow gives the order, and Yarrow blames Wedge for ruining his strategy. Connie is shot, and Wedge carries her to a bed. They say they love each other, and Yarrow hears. A doctor treats her and says she may not live. The island is to be evacuated.
Wedge and Yarrow go back to Captain Joyce, and the new Construction Battalions are called Seabees. Wedge is made Lt. Commander, and 1100 men are trained. Connie returns and is welcomed by Yarrow. They dine with Wedge, and Connie says she does not remember. Wedge dances with her and tells her she stayed true to Yarrow; then he leaves them alone. Connie respects Yarrow but says she is in love with Wedge.
Yarrow commands several battalions, and Wedge leads the landing Seabees. Yarrow visits Wedge's construction site of oil tanks. Japanese snipers pick off men, and Eddie Powers (William Frawley) is killed. Wedge leads his men out, and Yarrow finds only fifteen men left behind. Planes come in for refueling. The Japanese attack. Wedge and his men come back to fight the Japanese. Wounded Yarrow tells Wedge he will be court-martialed and to defend the oil tanks at all cost. The Seabees are defeating the larger Japanese force. Wedge uses a bulldozer to start a massive fire and is killed. At a ceremony Yarrow reads the commendation, and he tells Connie that Wedge was a great guy. She says that she loves Yarrow too.
This war drama was designed to raise morale for the
war against the Japanese, showing how workers and the military
could work together.