Pilot for the TV series introduces the people of the 510th Evac Hospital at China Beach Vietnam, 1967 who include cool but compassionate Army nurse Colleen McMurphy, naive Red Cross newcomer Cherry White, singer Laurette Barber, and cynical civilian worker/prostitute K.C. Koloski trying to deal with the horrors of war which are never far away from the base and dealing with their own individual lives.
Cherry learns the difference between a clean wolf and a sweaty, battle-weary gentleman. Austin calls McMurphy out at her going-away party. He seems to speak for all of her guy pals and friends when he says words to the effect, "...even though all this nuts is going on, I want to see the real you, the sexy side, any side...but you've gone all robot." Laurette, still full of joie de vivre, entices McMurphy into being one of her backup singers; the catch is Laurette has to help McMurphy on HER last shift Laurette has no clue what McMurphy even does, except it's full of "...
K.C. agrees to ask about Cherry's missing brother as she sets up a deal on the local black market to buy a priceless antique vase. At Lila's request, Laurette prepares to perform for visiting brass at a 1940's nostalgia party. Later that night, Lila, K.C., McMurphy, Laurette and Cherry share confidences in a bunker as they wait out a mortar attack together.
In an attempt to understand Boonie, Laurette volunteers to accompany Lila and Cherry on a mission in the Central Highlands. When their helicopter is shot down, they are rescued by a squad of GIs supposedly being led by the legendary Captain Osborne whom Lila has come to meet. At China Beach, Dr. Richard is wounded before his R&R while operating on a wounded GI with a live mortar shell inside him, while K.C. and a frightened Boonie prepare to mount a rescue mission to locate Lila, Laurrette and Cherry.
Cherry is taken in by a deserter who claims have information on her missing brother's whereabouts, and who is pursued by a determined officer from the CID. Meanwhile, Laurette and Boonie try to help a stressed out Beckett get some sleep.
Beckett joins the company of two fellow black servicemen who preach brotherhood, only to deal with the pressure of their racial prejudice and financial coercion when he discovers his new friends using the body bags in his morgue for drug smuggling. Meanwhile, Dodger helps Cherry find her long-lost brother, Rick, who is a spaced-out black marketer working in the sordid underworld of Da Nang. Also, Laurette faces in important audition with laryngitis. Dr. Richard returns from his R&R in Hawaii disillusioned by the perceived changes with his wife.
When a celebrity USO tour starring Nancy Sinatra and Johnny Grant arrives at China Beach, Laurette sees this as her chance to make it big and with McMurphy's help, she joins the tour and leaves China Beach for good. Meanwhile, McMurphy misplaces the body of a young soldier which gets her suspended from the hospital, while at the same time, she finally gives into Natch's moves towards her.