U.S. Marine and Golden Globe nominee Ronald Lee Ermey died of complications from pneumonia Friday. He was 74 years old.
Ermey joined the Marine Corps in 1961 at age 17. He served in the aviation support field before becoming a Drill Instructor at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego. Ermey also served in Okinawa, Japan and in Vietnam for 14 months in 1968. He was medically discharged in 1972.
Ermey was famous for his Marine style roles in movies like “Full Metal Jacket” (1987), Se7ven (1995) and “Saving Silverman” (2001). He also hosted “Mail Call” (2002-2009) on The History Channel where he would answer letters from viewers about weapons, tactics, equipment and military terminology.
Ermey served as a consultant on “Full Metal Jacket,” and his convincing improvised dialogue eventually led Director Stanley Kubrick to cast him in his iconic roll as Drill Instructor Gunnery Sergeant Hartman.
Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James L. Jones honorarily promoted Ermey to the rank of gunnery sergeant in 2002. He was the first retired Marine to receive a promotion.
Ermey’s manager Bill Rogin posted a message on his Facebook account saying goodbye to his fallen friend:
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.