After he is drafted, Dorian "Dodo" Doubleday, an information clerk in a railroad station, puts his photographic memory to use by memorizing entire manuals on Army procedure. Unfortunately, when he reports for basic training at Camp Carver, Dodo's encyclopedic knowledge of military protocol makes him unpopular with his fellow recruits and gets him off to a bad start with his drill instructor, the tough-as-leather Sergeant Ames. The officers are impressed, however, and Dodo is immediately made a sergeant and put in charge of the notoriously undisciplined Company F. When the soldiers mock Dodo's orders by reporting for training wearing nothing but overcoats, Ames, gleefully anticipating Dodo's downfall, hastens to tell Major Greer. Dodo improvises a story about experimenting with minimal equipment in case of a surprise attack, adding that his men are a hardy breed from the Kentucky hills and can march better without shoes. Greer has the barefoot soldiers march in formation all day, and at a dance that evening, the young women flock admiringly around Dodo. The next day, Ames sees Dodo's men carrying out sentry duty on bicycles, in taxis and on a mule.