Juan "Johnnie" Rico (ジュアン・”ジョニー”・リコ Juan Jonī Riko) is an ordinary American teenager living on Earth. He is a very athletic young man. He was somehow raised in a restrict environment despite of being wealthy. Johnnie views things seriously but also innocently, and it is the reason why his fellow trainees trust him. Johnnie becomes shy whenever facing a girl, especially Carmencita. Inside Johnnie's mind, he is still a bit boyish.
Johnnie Rico was a student and a football player in Daniel High School. He had a crush on Carmencita, a cheerleader in their school.
During a football game, Johnnie tried to get the decisive score after being encouraged upon seeing Carmencita. However, he failed after he was tackled by a player of the opposite team.
After the game, Johnnie attended a party, where he met Carl, his best friend. Noticing Johnnie's feeling for Carmencita, Carl encourage Johnnie to declared his love for her. Being too shy, Johnnie lost his chance as Carmencita was invited to the beach by another men when someone suggested going there.
Johnnie fell asleep on Carl's car on the way to the beach. He was waked up by the sunrise and he saw Carmencita sit beside him. She told him that she was going to the Space Navy after the graduation. Her decision made Johnnie decide to join the army because of his feeling toward her.
However, Johnnie's decision enrage his mother, Maria, who was extremely against him to join the military. Emilio, Johnnie's father, took his son out for a ride. Emilio told Johnnie that he should be sure if he really wanted to join the military. However, all Johnnie's mind was only Carmencita. After getting back to home, Johnnie saw his mother very sad, while he could do nothing but went to his room.
After a while, Carl came to visit Johnnie and showed him a floppy disc, which contained the video of Battle of Alpha III recorded by a Tortoise. The video showed Johnnie a battle between the Terran Federation and unknown enemies. After watching the video, Carl asked if Johnnie still wanted to join the force. Johnnie told him that he did want to join the force despite the fact. Johnnie asked Carl what would he do, while Carl said that joining the Terran Federation Force was his dream since the childhood. Next morning, Johnnie saw his father watching the news, which was about the mobilization of the Federation Force. Emilio asked if Johnnie's mind was still the same, while Johnnie nodded. Emilio then gave Johnnie's enlist notice.
On the morning of departing, Emilio gave Johnnie a send-off at the garage before Johnnie left home with his bike. Johnnie ask where his mother was while Emilio told him that she had gone out. A while after hitting the road, Johnnie saw his mother behind a tree on the lakeshore and he stopped to say goodbye to her. Maria slapped him hard before saying goodbye to his son and leaving.
In the boot camp, he met Greg Paterson, Pat Leivy, "Kitten" Smith, Ted Hendrick, and T. Azuma and befriended them. All of them are trained under the drill instructor Sergeant Zim. They faced various of training course and each one followed another, making the trainees exhausted. During the break, Paterson, Smith, and Leivy talked about their girlfriends, making Johnnie envy.
After a series of training, the recruits began to receive training in Powered Suits. Johnnie was very not adopted to the suit. At a certain point, the short-tempered Hendrick was enraged by Sergeant Zim's scold. Out of control due to the rage, Hendrick punched Zim at the face — however, much to Johnnie and others' suprise, Zim walked away like nothing happened.
During a fire of a chemical factory in the base, Johnnie was ordered to extinguished the fire along with Smith and Hendrick. Hendrick freaked out and lost his confidence of being a Mobile Infantryman during the fire. Smith left the scene prior to Johnnie because of running out of the fire-extinguishing agent. Later, Zim ordered Johnnie to retreat after Johnnie's fire-extinguisher was empty. However, Johnnie didn't follow Zim's order because he spotted a survivor and decided to rescue him. It was the time that Johnnie mastered how to move his body while wearing the suit when he carried the survivor to run out the factory.
Johnnie successfully rescued the survivor, however, he was beaten by Zim for disobedience in front of the trainees in the evening. Johnnie questioned Zim that saving life should be more important, while Zim beat him again, stating the order was much more important as they were in the military. Johnnie was punished to run the base. Johnnie was very anger because he thought he was right to saving people's lives.
Later, Johnnie, Greg, Smith, and Leivy gave Hendrick a send-off. Smith told Hendrick to write them a letter, Hendrick said they should write to their girlfriends. Upon hearing this, Johnnie decided to write Carmencita a letter.
After the training in Camp Arthur Currie was over, Johnnie was transferred to Luna Base due to the change of the training schedule. Before boarding the Naval Transport Rocket, he saw Carmencita in the line of female sailors. He called her name and she respond with a beckon. Upon seeing this, Smith, Leivy, and Azuma made a fun of Johnnie. Johnnie was happy to learned that Carmencita went to Luna Base as well.
On their way to the Moon, Captain Ian Frankel gave the trainees a briefing. It was revealed that the training schedule and the training place were moved because the Battle of New Buenos Aires had brought the war to Earth, so the Federation had to move the training to Moon. In addition, the Space War had broken out since the incident.
After arriving the Luna Base, Johnnie received the dropping training in electrical magnetic tube along with other. Later, Johnnie went to the mall with Greg, Smith, and Azuma. There, he met Carmencita again. Carmencita thanked him for the letter. The two had a conversation until Leivy broke in, asking Johnnie if he had get a nude photo from her. Johnnie got slapped by Carmencita while Leivy was beat by the others for breaking the mood. The slap reminded Johnnie that Maria slapped him before joining the Mobile Infantry.
Later during simulation fort assault, Johnnie successfully disabled a robotic battery. Due to the joy, he was so careless that he got shot by another battery. Back to the dorm room, he was welcomed for the first one who disabled a battery along their team. Later, he received a letter from his father and learned the death of his mother, who was killed in New Buenos Aires. Shocked, sad, and depressed by the death of his mother, he was so distracted in the next simulation battle that he got all his teammate "killed" in the simulation. All of them were punished to clean all the toilets in the base by Sergeant Zim due to lack of the teamwork.
When cleaning a toilet, Johnnie was blamed for the punishment by most of his teammate. Leivy, who was very angry, even punched in Johnnie's face. Greg stopped the others, telling them that Johnnie's was unusual because his mother was killed in New Buenos Aires. Though Leivy apologized, Johnnie shouted that he didn't need their sympathies as they were Mobile Infantry, who should not affected by the personal emotion. Smith then stroke Johnnie and accused Johnnie of not treating them as teammate. Greg agreed with Smith and gave Johnnie a hand, apologizing for doing nothing when he saw Johnnie depressed. All these were heard by Sergeant Zim, who was standing outside the toilet.
Later in the dorm, Johnnie reconciled with Smith while others show their friendship. Azuma even brought out the wine for celebration. Johnnie was touched by his fellow teammates.
At a certain point, Johnnie was promoted to platoon leader. During the training unit was heading Mars, Johnnie saw Greg writing a letter to his girl friend, Laura. Greg talked to Johnnie about Laura. Later, Johnnie and his teammates joined the blue team to participate a simulation war against the red team on Mars. When Johnnie and Greg were running out of ammunition, they headed to the Martian Base for supply. Unknown to them, the base had been massacred by the alien force.
They felt strange upon entering the Martian Base since it was way too silent in the base. They saw a trainee from the red team sitting aside — who turned out to be dead. Soon they encounter several aliens, who tried to kill them. After reporting to Sergeant Zim, they were ordered to retreat. Greg made his way to the gate, however, Johnnie was captured by two aliens. Just as he was about to be killed, Greg, who ignored Zim's order, came to rescue him. Unfortunately, Greg was sliced into half with an HE shell in front of Johnnie. Soon after Greg's death, Johnnie was saved by several soldier in Powered Suits, who killed the aliens.
After the incident, Greg was deprived of his status in the military posthumously due to the ignorance of the order. Smith and Leivy were angry about this and defend Greg against the injustice, while Johnnie understood the reason from the beginning. Inside his mind, Johnnie said he would look up to Greg for his whole life.
- Starship Troopers (OVA)
- Page 66, Starship Troopers Memorial Handbook