On the eve of shipping out to Okinawa, Japan to join the Vietnam War, Marine Eddie Birdlace (River Phoenix) and his friends participate in one last Dogfight, a competition where the enlisted men bring a woman to the party in hopes of winning the prize for ugliest date. Eddie brings waitress Rose (Lili Taylor) but after spending a short time with her, realizes that she is actually very sweet and doesn’t want her to be judged. Rose finds out from the winner Marcie what the party is really about and she lashes out at Eddie and storms off.
Eddie tracks Rose down to apologize, take her to dinner, and spend his last night stateside with her. The two grow close over the course of the evening and share an intimate moment before parting in the morning.
When Eddie catches up with his three friends (the three “Bees” since all of their last names start with the letter B), one of them admits that he saw Eddie and Rose together that evening even though Eddie told his friends he was with a gorgeous married officer’s wife. Eddie tears up the Rose’s address which she gave him in hopes he would write while deployed.
Three years later, Eddie and the Bee-boys are stationed overseas when their base is attacked and the Bee-boys die while Eddie suffers a serious leg injury. He is discharged and heads back to San Francisco where he goes into Rose’s café and the two share a long embrace after having not communicated with each other since the night of the Dogfight.