"Only a person with a true sense of honor will admit the lies they tell themself." - Cadet Anne Farrell
It is September 1976. America's bicentennial celebration is winding down. Jimmy Carter is running for president. Pot sells for $35 an ounce.
Meanwhile, the United States Military Academy at West Point reels from the worst scandal in its history, as over 200 future generals and nuclear missile silo commanders stand accused of honor code violations.
"A cadet must not lie, steal, cheat, or tolerate those who do."
Due to the size of the scandal, the Secretary of the Army eventually steps in. He blames the situation on flaws in the system and decrees that many of the cadets awaiting honor boards will be allowed to return and graduate with the class behind them. He bends the rules – a thing that NEVER happens at USMA.
His decision is met by angry protests from the Class of '77, who do not want to be remembered by alumni as “the class with all the honor turn-backs.” They are also disgruntled that women are entering the academy for the first time with the Class of '80. Traditions held for nearly two centuries undergo intense scrutiny, as plebes are hazed for being the start of the "long pink line."
Ann Farrell, a petite third-generation West Pointer with a Holly Hunter-like toughness, believes her destiny is to one day save the planet from nuclear war. She is a natural-born leader who is at USMA for all the right reasons.
Her squad mate, Greg “Sam” Samourzakus, is a scholar athlete who was recruited to help Army beat Navy in football. To the chagrin of academy officials, Sam elects to run cross country instead. Upperclassmen go easy on him, hoping he will play football, but Sam spends his free time pulling pranks.
Meanwhile Kevin Porch, a third-year cadet known far and wide as “the biggest haze in Third Regiment,” believes his sole mission in life is to weed out flakey plebes. Even his own classmates fear him. When a prank gets Farrell in trouble with Porch, Sam tries to do the right thing, but will he stop Porch from forcing Farrell or him, or both, to resign?