Lee Ermey

Ronald Lee Ermey (March 24, 1944 – April 15, 2018) was an American actor. He achieved fame when he played Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in the 1987 film Full Metal Jacket, which earned him a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Ermey was also a United States Marine Corps staff sergeant and an honorary gunnery sergeant.

Medic has received from the National Archives ten pages from Lee Ermey’s military personnel file.

As a teenager, Ermey often got in trouble with the authorities. After his second arrest for criminal mischief a judge offered him a choice between the military and jail.

In 1961, at age 17, Ermey enlisted in the Marines. He served in aviation support for a few years before becoming a drill instructor 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. During his Marine career Ermey was awarded various merit and campaign decorations. He was medically retired in 1972 because of several injuries.

Ermey was cast in his first film while attending the University of Manila in the Philippines, using his G.I. Bill benefits. He played a First Air Cavalry chopper pilot in Apocalypse Now, doubling as a technical advisor to director Francis Ford Coppola. Ermey then was cast as a Marine drill instructor in The Boys in Company C.

Ermey played a series of minor film roles until 1987, when he was cast as Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket, which is based on The Short Timers, a novel by Gustav Hasford. Initially, he was intended to be only the technical advisor. Kubrick changed his mind after Ermey put together an instructional tape, in which he went on an extended tirade towards several extras, convincing Kubrick he was the right man for the role. Seeking authenticity for the film, Kubrick allowed Ermey to write or edit his own dialogue and improvise on set, a notable rarity in a Kubrick film. Kubrick later indicated that Ermey was an excellent performer, often needing just two or three takes per scene, also unusual for a Kubrick film. Ermey’s performance won critical praise and he was nominated for a Golden Globe Award as Best Supporting Actor.

After achieving fame Ermey had a long career in film, TV, voice overs, commercials and video games.

In 2016 Ermey supported Ted Cruz for president. He was a member of the NRA and big game hunter, for which he was criticized.

His funeral was held in Arlington National Cemetery on Friday, January 18, 2019 where his ashes are buried.