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.
He is most well-known for playing Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in “Full Metal Jacket,” which earned him a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Ermey appeared in more than 60 films, including Full Metal Jacket, Apocalypse Now, Purple Hearts, Mississippi Burning, The Siege of Firebase Gloria, Dead Man Walking, Se7en, Fletch Lives, Leaving Las Vegas, Prefontaine, Saving Silverman, On Deadly Ground, Sommersby, Life, Man of the House, Toy Soldiers and The Salton Sea, as well as the remake of Willard, and as an evil sadist in two The Texas Chainsaw Massacre films.
On Sunday [April 15, 2018], R. Lee Ermey’s long-time manager informed the world that a little after 6:30 p.m. EST, the beloved R. Lee Ermey “The Gunny” passed away in the morning due to complications from pneumonia.
We honor you, R. Lee Ermey.