The iconic R. Lee “Gunny” Ermey passed on Sunday. Modern Shooter looks back on the affable and down-to-earth Marine, actor and gun-rights advocate.
The Marine Corps, gun world and movies lost a good friend in the passing of R. Lee Ermey Sunday morning. The Vietnam Veteran, former Marine Drill Instructor and actor died at the age of 74 from complications due to pneumonia.
Ermey is perhaps best known for portraying Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Stanley Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket,” a role that earned him a Golden Globe nomination. Ermey's personal background brought a level of authenticity and intensity to the Hartman character and helped catapult the movie to icon status. Ermey's lines from the first half of the movie might very well be the most quoted from any war flick.
An honorary Gunnery Sergeant in real life, Ermey had a thriving acting career outside of “Full Metal Jacket,” playing parts in more than 70 films. Additionally, he was a mainstay on T.V., making more than 200 episodes of ‘GunnyTime' for the Outdoor Channel, as well as a number of other programs and commercials over the years.
Ermey was also a plain and outspoken advocate for the U.S. Military, firearms and the Second Amendment, and he was a regular superstar as such venues as the SHOT Show. He rarely diced words when speaking about America's right to keep and bare arms, and actively worked as an NRA board member to protect and advance these civil liberties.
While Ermey's characters oftentimes came off as gruff even borderline hair-curling, the man himself was down-to-earth and downright affable in person. Modern Shooter was lucky enough to shoot the breeze with the Gunny about 3 years back and got a first-hand taste his friendliness, not to mention straight shooting on any topic that came up — getting into movies, hunting deer as a boy in Kansas, our American freedoms and his beloved (and never cleaned) .45 GAP.
Godspeed, Gunny. You will be missed.