My first exposure to ‘Gunny’ R Lee Ermey was the movie Full Metal Jacket. In that movie (as most of you know) he played the part of the Drill Instructor. Full Metal Jacket is one of the best films that depict Marine Recruit Training accurately. Being a former Marine myself, I can confidently say that Full Metal Jacket is pretty damn accurate with regards to the drill instructors tearing you down to your soul. I still to this day get goosebumps when I watch that movie.
Fast forward several years later and I was watching gunny on the weekly Lock n’ Load show. Check out the following episode (courtesy of Youtube) on shotguns.
“R. Lee Ermey didn’t just play a Marine on TV; he served on active duty for eleven years, including a 14 month tour in Vietnam, before being medically retired as a Staff Sergeant in 1972 (he was later given an honorary promotion to Gunnery Sergeant). He never stopped thinking about those years in uniform either — and that isn’t simply journalistic bloviation. I know because I asked him.” – Alex Hollings (SOFREP)
Here is the official statement from his manager, Bill Rogen:
It is with deep sadness that I regret to inform you all that R. Lee Ermey (“The Gunny”) passed away this morning from complications of pneumonia. He will be greatly missed by all of us. It is a terrible loss that nobody was prepared for. He has meant so much to so many people. And, it is extremely difficult to truly quantify all of the great things this man has selflessly done for, and on behalf of, our many men and women in uniform. He has also contributed many iconic and indelible characters on film that will live on forever. Gunnery Sergeant Hartman of Full Metal Jacket fame was a hard and principled man. The real R. Lee Ermey was a family man, and a kind and gentle soul. He was generous to everyone around him. And, he especially cared deeply for others in need.
There is a quote made famous in Full Metal Jacket. It’s actually the Riflemen’s Creed. “This is my rifle. There are many like it, but this one is mine.”
There are many Gunny’s, but this one was OURS. And, we will honor his memory with hope and kindness. Please support your men and women in uniform. That’s what he wanted most of all.
Semper Fi, Gunny. Godspeed.
*Photo courtesy of AP Images