I met the Gunny a few times at SHOT. If it wasn’t at the GLOCK booth where he was signing autographs, mugging for the cameras and making people laugh who had waited an hour or more for the privilege of saying hello and shaking his hand, he was at the GLOCK range day location, glad-handing media types while he protected his hearing with a .45 cartridge stuffed into each ear.
He was always avuncular, entertaining, funny and, from the few words I exchanged with him now and again, seemed to be a genuinely good human being. Very much the man we’ve seen in commercials, promo videos, on Mail Call (and quite probably during the first half of Full Metal Jacket, too).
Unfortunately, the sad news comes tonight via his Facebook page, that the Gunny’s tour of duty has come to an end. Here’s the statement issued by his manager:
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.