R. Lee Ermey passes

| April 16, 2018 | 84 Comments

Bobo sends us the sad news this morning that R. Lee Ermey, the quintessential Marine drill instructor has passed at the age of 74.

Statement from R. Lee Ermey’s long time manager, Bill Rogin:

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.

This is from the movie Full Metal Jacket;

From Fox News;

An outspoken conservative, Ermey spoke to Fox News in 2016 about being “blackballed” from Hollywood over his political views.

“I’ve had a very fruitful career. I’ve done over 70 feature films,” he said. “I’ve done over 200 episodes of [Outdoor Channel series ‘GunnyTime’]… and then [Hollywood] found out that I’m a conservative.”

Actually, he corrected, “I’m an Independent, but I said something bad about the president. I had something unsavory to say about the president’s administration, and even though I did vote for him the first time around, I was blackballed.”

Ermey, who was an NRA board member, said at the time that his association with the organization and his disapproval of President Obama cost him acting jobs.

“Do you realize I have not done a movie in five to six years? Why? Because I was totally blackballed by the … liberals in Hollywood,” he alleged. “They can destroy you. They’re hateful people [who] don’t just not like you, they want to take away your livelihood … that’s why I live up in the desert on a dirt road … I don’t have to put up with their crap.”

From Wiki;

In 1961, at age 17, Ermey enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and went through recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego in San Diego, California. For his first few years, he served in the aviation support field before becoming a drill instructor in India Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, where he was assigned from 1965 to 1967.

Ermey then served in Marine Wing Support Group 17 at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa, Japan. In 1968, he was ordered to Vietnam with MWSG-17, and spent 14 months in country. The remainder of his service was on Okinawa where he was advanced to staff sergeant (E-6). He was medically discharged in 1972 because of several injuries incurred during his service. On May 17, 2002, he received an honorary promotion to gunnery sergeant (E-7) by the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General James L. Jones.

Category: We Remember

Comments (84)

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  1. jerry920 says:

    Semper Fi Gunny! Loved him in Se7en.

  2. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    The man was just real and damn sure knew how to have a good time. “[T]hat’s why I live up in the desert on a dirt road … I don’t have to put up with their crap.”

  3. AW1 Tim says:

    Godspeed, Gunny.

    Thank you for your lifetime of service.

  4. Skidmark says:

    He was one of the biggest influences on me wanting to be a Marine, that and my bigger sisters longtime BF, whom I looked up to, was @ Camp Pendleton.
    As I’ve stated before, in April, prior to my graduation and signing the papers, I got in trouble for a fist fight that my friends were involved in, I wasn’t even there but still got busted for it…therefore I couldn’t follow through with recruiter and go. That would be my forever regret in life.
    RIP…You’re now with Father in his Kingdom and have eternal happiness.

  5. Tim says:

    Everyone remembers Ermey from Full Metal Jacket, but he was also awesome as SGT Loyce in the Boys in Company C.

    • MustangCryppie says:

      Wow! Those recruits got hippie haircuts! Must have been at least an inch or more left on top of their heads!

      • Deckie says:

        When did the USMC stop allowing Corporals to serve as D.I.s? This clip reminded me that I have seen that in old photos as well as these movies.

        • Joe Scherman says:

          I had a corporal as one of three drill instructors in 1982, but he was soon promoted to sergeant, so maybe it’s timing: if a corporal is soon to be a sergeant they can be a DI perhaps?

          • Patrick408 says:

            The boys in company c is what made me join, plus i had two brothers that served in the corp during Vietnam. Funny but true story about full metal jacket. My brother who got out of the corp in 1971 became an actor and wanted me to try out for a new movie because Kubrik liked brothers unknown actor types, so i went out to LA to record my part as Pvt Pyle. I remember reading the script about the jelly donut but i wasn’t an actor. My brother sent in the tape and he was picked to be the head DI, but after starting tapping they decided to go with R.Lee and made the scene of the door gunner for my brother. When the movie came out 1987 I was attending door gunner school in K-bay HI, small world and i couldn’t believe how big of a movie it was for Marines. I’ll never forgot going to see it just off base with several other buddies.
            Semper Fi R.Lee!

        • Just An Old Dog says:

          Not sure if they aren’t allowed.
          When I went through DI School in 92 there were two Corporals in my class.
          Once they graduated they were given 100 points on their cutting score, so they were promoted to Sgt pretty fast .

  6. sj says:

    Gotta watch Metal Jacket again. Talk about a film that couldn’t be made today! I always liked “Gunny Time” too. RIP.

  7. Ex-PH2 says:

    Hollywood isn’t just hateful people. It is worse than hateful slimeballs that live in a pit full of sharks’ offal.

    Sad. Too sad. See you next time around, Gunny.

    • Jeff LPH 3, 63-66 says:

      Ex; That is why I do not go to the movies at all. I only watch old movies on TCM where the actors and actresses were patriotic and served in the Military when needed during those years. One has to remember that a lot of the money they make for the films goes as donations to the party that I do not belong to which means that by me going to the flicks, my money is most likely going to the democratic (socialist) party. I’m an indie and lean toward the conservative side of the fence.

    • A Proud Infidel®™ says:

      Hollywierd is pretty much a giant vat of hateful, intolerant little shits. I loved watching Gunny on History Channel’s “Mail Call”.

  8. Just An Old Dog says:

    I met him a few times at MCRD. Sometimes he would just visit to be around Marines and he loved going to functions if his work schedule allowed it.
    A easy going guy and very humble. I knew a few of the nuts n bolts guys that worked with the history channel and military channel and the actual people that did the work on the sets,, and even the ones in the movies loved him because he was great to work with.

    • Mason says:

      He always came off as a guy who’d be great to have a beer with. Glad to hear that was true.

      I’ll miss ya, Gunny.

    • Peter the Bubblehead says:

      My wife and I met him last June at the Kittery Trading Post. His time was limited because he had to catch a flight home, so the staff told the huge line that there was no guarantee we would actually reach him before the hard-stop time. The line seemed to crawl for hours and I kept checking my watch as the time he had to leave grew closer and closer.
      Finally, ten minutes prior to his departure time, my wife and I reached the head of the line. It was easy to see why it had taken so long. Unlike most celebrities who will pose for a pic and sign an autograph, the Gunny was taking time to speak to and get to know each of his fans that had come to see him. There was a genuine appeal to him. You could tell this was a man who knew he was where he was because of his fans, and he wasn’t going to screw them over!
      I tried not to take up too much time, knowing there were about twenty people behind us that had waited as log as we did, but I wished I could have spent more time with this genuine person and US Military hero. It was a true highlight of 2017 for me and my wife.
      Semper Fi, Gunny!

  9. AW1Ed says:

    Fair winds and following seas, Gunny.

    Dusty in here…

    • ChipNASA says:

      Fuck your dust. I’ m a big enough man to admit I cried for about 10 minutes like a little girl.

      Hey Gunny,
      Go tell God to fucking fetch you a jelly doughnut from the Chow Hall.
      You’ve earned it.

  10. Mason says:

    Enjoy Valhalla, Gunny!

    Surprisingly good actor, but he was so spot on every time he played a DS.

  11. Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

    Another sad day, he was a great guy to watch in anything he appeared in and I really enjoyed the show Mail Call…

    Rest In Peace Gunny….

  12. MustangCryppie says:

    Very sad, but I’m sure that he’s straightening things out up there. He died far too young.

    RIP, Gunny!

  13. David says:

    He was a great character actor, especially in military roles. Seems to me he played the leads fathers in both “<Brisco County Jr." and "House" among many others. First saw him in BOCC – told my wife after watching it that it was a POS movie, only relief from the Hollywod cliches was 'they musta got a real DI' and that kid Stan Shaw would go far. (Sidebar – I was told that when the showed that movie at Bad Tolz, the Group guys damn near tore the place apart at the scene where the SF major picks up the little Vietnamese boy as a shield… they were pissed.) Gunny was always the perfect portayer of a Marine NCO. I just wish Hollywod would have cast him as the lead…. maybe in a biopic of Chrsty Puller.

  14. Sapper3307 says:

    Those gates better he highly shined.

  15. Yef says:

    A guy who lived an active life dead at 74. This kind of discourage my hopes to make it all the way to 2100.

    Very sad news. R. Lee Ermey was one of the good guys.

    He was incredibly good in Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel, where he played the commanding officer, General Simon Barnaky.

    • Just An Old Dog says:

      Complications from pneumonia. The flu has been really nasty this year. I’m betting he has been traveling a lot and breathing in a lot of nasty recycled airline air.

  16. SGT Fon says:

    his cadance is my candence, it confused the hell out of the Army when i switched from USMC to Guard….

    Siege of firebase Gloria was his best movie!

    [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0mUBU9PBjbc&w=560&h=315%5D

  17. PFM says:

    Liked him as Sergeant Major Hafner in Siege of Firebase Gloria – RIP

  18. dolch mann says:

    Enjoyed his work in “The Frighteners” with Michael J Fox, and also “Space Above and Beyond” RIP Gunny.

  19. Dustoff says:

    He (to me) was the epitome of a D.I./Drill Sgt. Rest easy Gunny. Semper Fi

  20. QMC says:

    RIP Gunny! A great Marine and one of the few remaining good guys in Hollyweird. You will be missed!

  21. PJS says:

    I was most impressed by Ermey when he talked about his time in Vietnam. He didn’t try to polish it up, he was a rear area guy who brushed up against some dangerous stuff but didn’t try to make it sound like he was ‘Rice paddy daddy’. Just another workaday guy at war. If only the fakers knew that’s how we can spot them in their bull.
    Thanks Gunny, you did your partin the mission and then went on to teach everyone about the mission.

  22. UpNorth says:

    Rest In Peace, Gunny.

  23. SFC D says:

    A good man gone too soon. Godspeed, Gunny.

  24. CDR_D says:

    Sad news, indeed. RIP, Gunny. You weren’t just “Gunny”; you will always be THE Gunny.

  25. The Other Whitey says:

    This just ruins the whole damn year! Gunny Ermey was never anything but absolutely great in any of his endeavors in or out of Hollywood. The world just doesn’t seem right without him. He will be among good company in Marine Barracks Heaven.

    My badge will be shrouded and my station’s flag flown at half-mast.

  26. OldSoldier54 says:

    There goes a genuine American icon. The quintessential D.I.

    See you in a while, Brother. We’re gonna miss ya.

  27. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    It’s all rather entertaining, watching him play a DI and. Something tells me not one of his recruits saw it that way and more than one later reported, “Hey. I got my ass kicked by a movie star.”

  28. Tallywhagger says:

    Such a huge personality. I hope Mattis does his eulogy.

  29. Skippy says:

    Rest well gunny
    me and my two sons are going to miss you
    See you on the other side


  30. DaveP. says:

    R. Lee Ermey made a career out of… being R. Lee Ermey. That’s damn impressive and I can only think of a few other men who managed it.
    Rest well.

  31. m0311 says:

    Southern California weather is a lot more harsh that many people know. People think Southern California is all sunshine and fair weather. I’ve seen many people get pneumonia around this time of year. It’s because the dry Santa Ana wind picks up and then the next week it’s raining and then it goes back to being very dry again. It’s harsh weather on a person’s lungs.

  32. Atkron says:

    A good man through and through; and we’re lucky in that we can always turn one of his movies on to see and hear him again and again.

    To me, a Squid, he epitomized what a Marine was supposed to be. A gruff warrior, with a heart of gold.
    Fair Winds and Following Seas Gunnery Sergeant Ermey; you will never be forgotten.

  33. USAF RET says:

    R.I.P. Marine. Have a beer with my father and talk of USMC times while up there.

  34. Sparks says:

    Rest in peace Gunny Ermey. You will be missed.

  35. Jeff LPH 3, 63-66 says:

    RIP Gunny

  36. JarHead Pat says:

    RIP Gunny, you will be missed.

  37. RGR 4-78 says:

    Rest in Peace, Gunny Ermey.

  38. mr. sharkman says:

    I’ll share an in-house story involving The Gunny that I know everyone here will enjoy.

    Years ago, his TV program did a segment on the SQT (SEAL Qualification) course. I’m not 100% current, but for a time passing SQT was one of the hurdles a new guy had to clear before being awarded his Trident.

    We showed The Gunny all of our weapons systems and he got to play with each a little which he enjoyed to no end.

    But at the end of the day, with the show’s filming, he asked if he could put some more rounds thru an M-14. We were of course happy to oblige.

    During the day, with various weapons systems, he was routinely a ‘good shot’ with littleor no familiarization time.

    When he went back to the M-14, he was downright scary. All of us were blown away.

    Later on, over beers, we figured it made sense. The M-14 was what he carried when he was an AD Marine.

    I’ll just sum up by stating his performance put the USMC and USMC marksmanship in an outstanding light.

    FW&FS Gunny. Take it easy on the crowd when its time to shoot for horns of honeymead and they hand you an M-14.

  39. Devtun says:

    R. Lee Ermey died 20 years ago – Death hasn’t built up the courage to tell him.

    Rest easy Gunny Ermey.

    – A variation of an old Chuck Norris meme I saw somewhere.

  40. mr. sharkman says:

    ‘Complications from pneumonia’? Fvcking pneumonia…

  41. mr. sharkman says:


    How could pneumonia kill him if he was in a hospital under doctor’s care? Don’t they have meds for that?

    Educate me, Brother.

    • Just An Old Dog says:

      It sounds like he got some of that nasty flu bug that’s been going around and it evolved into it.
      Back in 2015 I had a friend I played online video games with and our group would hang out in team speak and talk a lot.
      I got to know her pretty well although we never got the chance to meet in person.
      She traveled a lot and ended up getting a nasty Upper Respiratory Infection just before Christmas and going into the Hospital.
      She was only 31 and an avid runner. Got a Call from her family On January 20, 2016 saying she had passed away.
      She was in one of the best hospitals in LA and they couldn’t save her.

      • mr. sharkman says:

        31 and an avid runner? Insanity. Condolences on the loss of your friend.

        What is team speak? I’ve got a nephew who plays video games a lot and talks to all sorts of people via headphones/mic.

        Maybe he knows team speak also.

        • Atkron says:

          I think you’re talking about the same thing. My two teenage sons do this all the time (talking to their Team on headsets while playing.).

          Hell the older one wants to go pro…they actually have a Pro League for something called Overwatch.

          I can’t keep up with it all anymore…makes me feel old.

          • mr. sharkman says:

            The kid won a brand new kick ass computer in a computer games tournament.

            Unreal. I remember playing coin-op video games at the local drug store.

            Certainly a different ‘world’ today and it makes me feel old too. 😉

    • 11B-Mailclerk says:

      That crap can kill the healthy. I have had it twice in the last five years. Once as flu complication and once from smoke inhalation.

      It was described to me as having a septic tank in your lungs. it sure felt like that. It was profoundly exhausting.

      Folks, if your Doc says “ok for the shots” get your flu and pneumonia shots. Get the freaking shots.

    • IDC SARC says:

      Not uncommon that someone in the 7th decade and active/competent goes out this way. Immunity wanes with age. At some point we lack the capacity for that secondary response which mobilizes the most effective and targeted facets of the immune response. Without that capacity an infection such as pneumonia which gains direct access to the circulation through thin barriers of the respiratory tissues leads to an overwhelming infection. Antibiotics at that point simply can’t keep up with the progression and are also ineffective against bacterial toxins produced.

      • mr. sharkman says:

        Thanks for the explanation.

        Have you ever considered going to medical school?

        I spent some time in Stanford’s Cardiac ICU a couple of years ago, and 2 of ‘my’ nurses were former USMC 0311s. When they were on duty the banter and shenanigans almost scared off the rounding MDs.

        Good times, relatively speaking. I’m certain your imagination re: what went on is not far from the truth. 😉

  42. Combat Historian says:

    He was funny as hell as the televangelist with the hot daughter in “Fletch Lives”. He will be dearly missed…

    Have a great time in Valhalla, warrior….

    • Atkron says:

      Ya know, I usually take exception to the whole Valhalla thing.

      But, Odin might just make an exception in this man’s case…and Freya might be too scared he’d run drill in her field ‘Fólkvangr’.

    • rgr769 says:

      He was a superb actor in every role I ever saw him play. Totally believable; although most of his roles were the strong male ones as military or cops. He did a few roles as a bad guy, hit man type; but mostly the strong good guy roles. Loved him on his History channel show. It is a shame the Hollywierd progtards ratfucked him at the end of his career, but proggies gotta prog.


    R.I.P Gunny

    I hope you will be checking DD214’s at the Gate

  44. jonp says:

    FMJ had one of the best ad lib’s in movie history during that opening scene. A guy I know met R. Lee outside the NRA Convention in Charlotte and said they talked for several minutes and he was a great guy.
    Sorely missed.

  45. Rosalee Adams says:

    RIP Gunny…………..OORAH
    (I loved his Mall Call in particular)

  46. MSG Eric says:

    Fantastic guy, great point of view, shame he’s gone. Hollywood has lost another great actor that should’ve been A-list untouchable.

    Hypocritical dirtbags that they all are.

  47. Bill M says:

    Rest in Peace Gunny.

  48. Carlton G. Long says:

    He said, “Marines are not allowed to die without permission” but then went and died without permission…what a hypocrite…

    In all seriousness, RIP Gunny. I even remember that silly GEICO commercial fondly…jackwagon.

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