In the spring of 1942, following the blockade run that took General Douglas MacArthur and his staff from the Philippines to the safety of Australia, the survivors of a bombed and sunk PT boat make their way to shore. The skipper tells his men they have top priority passes if they can make their way to Del Monte airfield two hundred miles away, and advises them to split up into pairs. Ensign Chuck Palmer and crewman Jim Mitchell finally reach Tacloban on the island of Leyte. In an American mission school, Palmer meets Jeanne Martinez, who is urgently trying to see the officer in charge with a request for help for a relative, and he also learns that the Japanese have captured the airfield. Palmer tries to make Australia by a boat that sinks in a tropical storm, and has to swim for shore. All through 1942, Palmer and the other survivors dodge enemy patrols while living off the land.