The squad leader of Richie’s ROTC (Reserve Officer’s Training Corps) group is fired for his inability to control the troops. Richie is appointed as the new leader. Ralph and Potsie think this is great news, until they realize Richie is serious about his new leadership role.
Richie consults his father who tells him the secret to good leadership is making your men love you. “All the great leaders had that quality: MacArthur – Nimitz – Bradley. “You know, I was a mess sergeant in the army. I used to put extra gravy on the men’s potatoes. They’d do anything for me”.
He also approaches the squad’s Captain, who tells him the secret of good leadership is the men ‘hating your guts.’ “If they fear you they’ll follow you,” he advises. “All the great leaders, their men hated them; MacArthur – Nimitz – Bradley.
Richie assumes command of the squad but everyone is still more interested in goofing off. Richie threatens to put everyone on report, meaning they will have to retake ROTC during summer school. Potsie, Ralph and the others do not take kindly to their friend’s no-nonsense approach.
The next day at Arnolds, Richie receives the cold shoulder treatment from Ralph and Potsie. Even Fonzie says he doesn’t want to talk to a ‘stoolie’, after hearing that Richie placed his friends on report.
Telling his father about his situation the next night, Richie says he feels like Humphrey Bogart in THE CAINE MUTINY.
After a dream that night, Richie wakes up the next morning with a clear head and his decision made. He will tear up the paperwork that placed his friends on report. Richie apologizes and promises he’s just going to be himself from now on. “If you want to follow that’d be nice. If you don’t, then there’s nothing I can do about it.”
He adds – “If you march good in the inspection today, I promise to quit as squad leader. Then we can be buddies again.” Apart from an unexpected detour through the path of a set of sprinklers, the march inspection goes well.
Howard congratulates Richie and tells him he supports his decision to quit as squad leader. “It’s not important to be a great leader. It’s just as important to be a good follower.”