In the 1920s three U.S. Marines who have deserted return to their base in Tientsin, China; one is dead, one is insane and one is court martialed. On the witness stand he relates their story from the end of World War I. Following the Armistice with Germany Pvt Calhoun temporarily frees a German Prisoner of War named Schmidt to go drinking with him. In the bar another Marine, Pvt Hanlon refuses to drink with a German; their brawl escalates into a fight with the Military Police where the three become friends. The German eventually migrates to the United States where he enlists in the Marines.