During the Vietnam War, Sergeant Clell Hazard is a weary patrol leader who has seen enough of war and attended too many funerals at Arlington National Cemetery. When Hazard meets zealous cadet Jackie Willow, he takes a paternal interest in the young man and tries to warn him about some of the grim outcomes that could result from volunteering for combat. But Hazard's logic and experience are hard-pressed to overcome Willow's enthusiasm and naivete.