5 little-known facts about R. Lee Ermey, the military's favorite Gunny
Most people know R. Lee Ermey from his role as Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Stanley Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket.” And if you somehow joined the military and never saw “Full Metal Jacket,” the first question anyone would ask is “How is that even possible?” But the second would be “How much do you know about this guy, anyway?”
1. His first job after the military was untraditional.
Ermey was medically retired from the Marine Corps and was at a loss about what to do as a civilian. He told Entertainment Weekly in a 1997 interview that he “bought a run-down bar and whorehouse” in Okinawa. He had to leave the business behind when the Japanese FBI caught wind of his black marketing. He escaped to the Philippines, where he met his wife.
2. His first role was an Army helicopter pilot.
It was while in the Philippines that the future Gunnery Sergeant was cast in “Apocalypse Now” by Francis Ford Coppola himself. Ermey was studying drama and did a number of Filipino films before Coppola discovered him. You can see him in yet another legendary war movie scene.
3. He wasn’t supposed to be in “Full Metal Jacket.”
Ermey was doing his job as technical advisor, reading the part of Sgt. Hartman while interviewing extras for the film. They already hired another actor for the part but Ermey had a plan to get the part. He got the job as technical advisor because of his other roles in Vietnam movies. He taped the interviews he did as Hartman and Kubrick cast him after seeing those tapes.
4. Ermey is the only Marine to be promoted after retiring.
He rose to the rank of Staff Sergeant after spending 14 months in Vietnam and doing two tours in Okinawa. He was medically retired for the injuries he received during his service. But it was in 2002, that Marine Corps Commandant James L. Jones promoted Ermey to E-7, Gunnery Sergeant, the rank he became so well-known for. It was the first and only time the Corps has promoted a retiree.
5. He originally joined the Corps to stay out of jail – and almost went Navy.
In the old days, joining the military was an option for at-risk youth and juvenile delinquents to avoid real jail time. Ermey was arrested twice as a teen. He admits to being a bit of a hell-raiser. And he didn’t even know about the Marine Corps the day he decided to join.
“Basically a silver-haired judge, a kindly old judge, looked down at me and said ‘this is the second time I’ve seen you up here and it looks like we’re going to have to do something about this,” Ermey told a gathering in 2010. He wanted to join the Navy because his father was in the Navy, but they rejected him on the grounds that he was a troublemaker.
This is the history behind the Navy's 'dixie cup'
The famous "dixie cup" is one of the most iconic symbols in the military today. You can spot a sailor from a mile away just from seeing this headgear.
The threats just keep coming from Russia over Syria strikes
Russia has warned the US that it will retaliate if Syrian government forces come under fire from positions held by a US-backed, Kurdish-led militia.
These narcos are going old school with their latest drug smuggling vessels
Since June, Coast Guard vessels patrolling the US's southern approaches have stopped seven stealthy ships that ride low in water to spirit illicit cargo.
The Marines' Hymn will make you want to re-enlist
The U.S. Marine Corps has bravely served our country since 1775, and The Marines’ Hymn reflects that legacy. Here's what you might not have known about it.
This is why Morgan Freeman is Russia's newest target
A new video features Morgan Freeman railing against Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Russian diplomats say he's been duped by political interests.
The Marine Corps could soon have its first female infantry officer
The unidentified lieutenant just finished a three-week combat exercise, the last graded portion of the Marine Corps Infantry Officer Course.
This new tool shows what nukes would do to your home
Alex Wellerstein, a historian of science, has created an interactive map you can use to see how a nuclear detonation would impact your city.
How to kidnap Marines — according to a combat training role player
In this episode, we speak with Kelvin Garvanne about his life as an Arabic/Iraqi role player, and how he takes training troops to a whole new level.
This is how you fight when the waters are rising
Underwater, all the fitness in the world won't save you if you can't keep your head. But dying is dumb. Time to summon a little amphibian ambition.
THE MIGHTY SURVEY GIVE-AWAY
We want to hear your thoughts. Complete our survey for a chance to win 1 of 5 gaming consoles