The ner-do-well marine 2nd Lt, Jay Williams, son of the former marine commandant general Thomas Williams, was drunk while calling in range coordinates during a live fire exercise. He transposed the distance coordinates calling a round which wounded several men critically. JAG officers Harm (H) and Meg (Mg) were called off another case to investigate this one which everyone said was “open and shut” because Jay admitted to flipping the last two digits. This would mean the end of his Marine career, which is what he wanted because his father had “forced” him into the service. He resented his father partly because he continually compared him to his older brother Michael, who had died in Desert Storm.
Gen Larry Butler told H amd Mg to go interview Capt Reed, who had fired the gun, but who resented Jay being an officer “because of his daddy who had the ‘button’ (congressional medal of honor) from Vietnam.” Reed impeded Hs investigation by ordering his men not to talk unless he was present. When H read him the riot act he “neglected” to tell H that the sign marking the “free fire zone” (FFZ) had been knocked down and they drove into fire. Angry H came back to talk to Reed and when he acted the stereotypical smart-aleck marine H decked him. Neither H or Reed would “fink” on the other in front of Gen Butler.
Reed told H to listen to the battlefield communication tape but then they found that it had been “degaussed” with 60hz hum. Gen Williams told H to basically “show no deference” to his son Jay who had never taken responsibility for anything in his life. His admitting flipping the numbers was completely out of character so H was suspicious of him. Reed’s obstruction also pointed suspicion to him, and then 1st Sgt Hollis was so close to Gen Williams that he could have erased the tape to get Jay off the hook.
Gen Williams described Jay’s life long friend, Lt Boone, as “the only friend of Jay’s I ever approved of.” Meg told H she may be able to get the tape restored but wouldn’t disclose that she was going to use an old family friend Oliver North (“Ollie”). Jay’s girlfriend Tina ran a disco at a bar and told H that Jay wasn’t really drunk, he only acted like it so he would be ‘buddies’ to his men and that she wasn’t Jay’s girlfriend.
The platoon leader injured in the accident eventually died and H amended the charges to Involuntary Manslaughter so Jay changed his plea to not guilty and said that he had only switched labels on the tape “to protect Boone.” The “real” tape showed that Lt Boone had kicked the numbers and Gen Butler talked H into leaving the evidence tampering charge up to his discretion under article 15. Jay got minimal punishment and went back to duty where he told his driver that it “was funny he DID range better sober than drunk.”
Since Jay had long history of ‘almost’ being charged for things that were blamed on others, H listened again to the tape and found hiss on the digital tape. He believed that it was copy and that Jay had Tina alter the tape to blame the incident on Boone (who wouldn’t get into as much trouble). “Ollie” was able to make a master tape from satellite spy radio conversations, which then proved the deception. Meg kissed Ollie when he gave her the tape and he said that “H will think you’re my girlfriend.” Mg replied, “That’s the idea.”
When H and Boone went to arrest Jay he shot Boone then the radio, so they couldn’t call in a helicopter. Driving away, H jumped on the vehicle and fought with Jay while they drove across the FFZ. When a shell hit, H was thrown clear but the vehicle flipped. As he was dying Jay said “why me.” However, H told Gen Williams that Jay had said “tell dad I’m sorry.” When Mg challenged him on it, H said “that’s the way I remember it.”