Semper fi
April 16, 2018 4:48 AM   Subscribe

RIP R Lee Ermey, marine and actor, most famous for playing Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket.
posted by fearfulsymmetry (73 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
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posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 4:48 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]


I hope this isn't in poor taste now, but I always remember him from The Frighteners.
posted by Servo5678 at 4:51 AM on April 16 [8 favorites]


Truffaut meets Poe's Law stuffed in to one person.
posted by Space Coyote at 4:58 AM on April 16


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posted by mikelieman at 5:01 AM on April 16


Dammit Gunny, MARINES ARE NOT ALLOWED TO DIE WITHOUT PERMISSION.

RIP.
posted by davelog at 5:08 AM on April 16 [12 favorites]


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posted by filtergik at 5:20 AM on April 16


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He basically became the archetype of "drill instructor" for media in the last thirty years--that role was either played by him, or clearly inspired by him. It must be kinda surreal to by damn near close to the picture in the dictionary of something.
posted by MrGuilt at 5:28 AM on April 16 [9 favorites]



posted by Foosnark at 5:29 AM on April 16


A JELLY DONUT!

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posted by deezil at 5:31 AM on April 16 [2 favorites]


He basically became the archetype of "drill instructor" for media in the last thirty years--that role was either played by him, or clearly inspired by him.

Well, yea, but only because he came from a military career, bulldozed his way into the role in Full Metal Jacket from an advisor job, wrote half the dialogue himself (as Kubrick puts it anyway) to total 150 pages of lines. I mean, for good reason was he the archetype. Guy was a legend.

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posted by RolandOfEld at 5:41 AM on April 16 [18 favorites]


It's weird to think he was younger than I am now when he was in Full Metal Jacket. He appears to have stayed the same (indefineably older) age his entire career.
posted by jscalzi at 5:46 AM on April 16 [15 favorites]


Aww damn it. I actually met him a few years ago at Bike Week in Daytona. He was a regular visitor, he said. I was surprised how tall he was. A really nice guy, too. Damn it. RIP.
posted by dozo at 5:49 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]


"Ermey had been brought on as a technical consultant for the 1987 film, but he had his eyes on the role of the brutal gunnery sergeant and filmed his own audition tape of him yelling out insults while tennis balls flew at him. An impressed Kubrick gave him the role.

"Kubrick told Rolling Stone that 50 percent of Ermey's dialogue in the film was his own.

"In the course of hiring the Marine recruits, we interviewed hundreds of guys. We lined them all up and did an improvisation of the first meeting with the drill instructor. They didn't know what he was going to say, and we could see how they reacted. Lee came up with, I don't know, 150 pages of insults," Kubrick said."


I read this shortly after seeing Full Metal Jacket, and have had a soft spot for Ermey ever since. I think the version I heard had his audition tape clock in at fifteen minutes, during which time he never once paused or repeated himself.

RIP, Gunny.
posted by myotahapea at 6:03 AM on April 16 [17 favorites]


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posted by solotoro at 6:05 AM on April 16


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posted by XtinaS at 6:12 AM on April 16


#$^@*...!!!
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:13 AM on April 16


I liked him in Mail Call.

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posted by Melismata at 6:13 AM on April 16 [2 favorites]


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posted by faceplantingcheetah at 6:17 AM on April 16




SHOUTING.
posted by Artw at 6:33 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]


Ermey played a drill instructor in The Boys in Company C 10 years before Full Metal Jacket.

Also denounced Obama's economic policies at a Toys for Tots fundraiser in 2010. Said the economy was being ruined to impose socialism.

I thought he did a good job as Bill Bowerman in Prefontaine, gassing himself with plastics and a waffle maker.
posted by dglynn at 6:34 AM on April 16 [2 favorites]


He was also in Seven.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:39 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]


"But always remember this: Marines die. That's what we're here for. But the Marine Corps lives forever. And that means YOU live forever."
posted by Capt. Renault at 6:49 AM on April 16 [2 favorites]


One of the reasons his character in FMJ is so compelling is that he's obviously a villain, but a villain with a higher calling. He's not being mean for being mean's sake, he's using the tools he has to shape boys into men who will go off to war. As I get older though, I find these sorts of people tedious at best. This sort of training was going out when I enlisted in '87, but you could tell the DSes were not only nostalgic about the old days, but also resistant to change. We still got plenty of ass kickings and abuse, and they mocked us for being so soft that we had to go through "low stress" Basic Training. I do wonder how many perfectly good people were drummed out based solely on their treatment by guys like the one Ermey portrayed.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:00 AM on April 16 [5 favorites]


This sort of training was going out when I enlisted in '87

My dad enlisted in the early to mid 50s and was in for 8 years or so, missing Korea and Vietnam and, while he didn't have much to say about his USMC boot camp experience as it regards to FMJ he did say it wasn't dissimilar. Up to and including soap in socks, which he absolutely knew of, and physical abuse from the folks in charge of training.
posted by RolandOfEld at 7:04 AM on April 16


Sir, RIP, Sir!
posted by chavenet at 7:07 AM on April 16 [2 favorites]


I liked him in Saving Silverman or whatever it was called too. "I'm going out in a hail of gunfire boys!"
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:09 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]


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posted by SonInLawOfSam at 7:15 AM on April 16


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posted by elsietheeel at 7:18 AM on April 16


I well recall his appearance in the first episode of Space: Above and Beyond* in which he in effect repeated his performance from Full Metal Jacket but minus the swearing (surreal as that sounds).

I understand that his politics were what I would find very objectionable, and that he advocated for the NRA. However, I think I can place him, alongside Jeremy Clarkson, in the category of 'people I would not like but who are nonetheless very good at doing TV shows about subjects they are knowledgeable and passionate about'.

*A friend referred to this show rather unkindly as Space: Abort and Retry and I've not been able to think of it as anything else since.
posted by Major Clanger at 7:23 AM on April 16 [5 favorites]


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posted by radwolf76 at 7:24 AM on April 16


A buddy of mine was in the Marines, said that Ermey was dead on, the crudity, the outlandish, continual put-downs, the violence, finding the weak spot of every boot and then hammering on that weak spot every day, every hour, right in your face, screaming full-out -- what we see on that screen is what Marine boots lived every day.

My friend laughs about one piece, states straight-up that no one would be able to get ammunition off the rifle range and into the barracks, he says that piece is utter fiction.

Ermey had been a drill instructor in the Marines. He didn't even have to act, it was in him. Those insults and all the violence, that's just part of being a Marine Corp drill instructor.

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posted by dancestoblue at 7:28 AM on April 16 [5 favorites]


“I didn’t know they could stack shit that high” is forever burned into my memory and I yell “what is your major malfunction, computer!” every time I’m troubleshooting an outage and can’t for the life of me figure why vendors are allowed to stack shit that high and pass it off as enterprise grade equipment.
posted by Annika Cicada at 7:33 AM on April 16 [8 favorites]


One of the reasons his character in FMJ is so compelling is that he's obviously a villain, but a villain with a higher calling. He's not being mean for being mean's sake, he's using the tools he has to shape boys into men who will go off to war.

One of the bits of his performance in FMJ that sticks with me is when he is reading the members of his training platoon their assignments as full-fledged Marines. To Joker, the main character, who is assigned as a combat correspondent, he uses his DI voice to say "you aren't a writer, you're a killer!" But to Private Pyle, the sad sack who received the lion's share of his abuse, there's a tiny bit of softening, even pride, as he says to him and only him, "Congratulations, Pyle, you made it."
posted by Gelatin at 7:38 AM on April 16


My friend laughs about one piece, states straight-up that no one would be able to get ammunition off the rifle range and into the barracks, he says that piece is utter fiction.

Ask me about the time I was on field training while on Army ROTC scholarship (freshman year, dropped it after that) and the Fort Benning staff passed out M16 clips that were supposedly loaded with blanks/rounds that would cycle the M16 while the barrel plugs were in place. Let's just say that I, being more experienced with military drill and firearms in general than many in the program (even Seniors and other upper class-men) after growing up around guns and 4 years of AFJROTC, looked down at the three clips that I had been handed and saw live rounds peeking out the top of the clip. I immediately shouted out that I needed to speak to the officer in charge and I've never seen someone's face go from angry at me speaking out of turn in formation to a pale look of realization to him shouting to his sergeants to 'Turn them in, account for all clips god dammit'.

My theory is that they got clips mixed up from the M16 popup range marksmanship qualifying we were at earlier in the day.

Shit happens.

This is about the point when I became sure that I was just going to utilize the scholarship for a freebie first year of tuition then get out before any sort of obligations kicked in (which they did for if the military paid for any 2nd year classes). That's how I became the first male in my family tree for 3 generations to not serve a military enlistment.
posted by RolandOfEld at 7:42 AM on April 16 [17 favorites]


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posted by Token Meme at 7:43 AM on April 16


Seeing his portrayal in FMJ numerous times during high school is a big reason why I never seriously entertained joining the military.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:01 AM on April 16 [3 favorites]


One of my (retired) Marine friends wrote, "Thanks. We loved him. He immortalized every Marine's nightmare. I watch FMJ clips on YouTube, remember the pain, and laugh."
posted by wenestvedt at 8:14 AM on April 16 [2 favorites]


I met him once, at a Memorial Day event in DC several years ago. I can confirm that 1) he was a very friendly guy and 2) he did not have an indoor voice. RIP!

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posted by orrnyereg at 8:33 AM on April 16 [2 favorites]


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posted by JoeXIII007 at 8:41 AM on April 16


He was the voice of "Sarge," one of the green army men in the Toy Story films...
posted by kuanes at 8:52 AM on April 16


He was also in yt Seven.

Despite all the memorable lines from FMJ, it is the line from this scene that always comes to mind when I think of Ermey. Who knew that a man hewn of granite and cast because of his skills at intimidation, in the middle of a grisly thriller, could deliver a laugh line?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:52 AM on April 16


Seeing him pop up in an episode of x-files as a minister was a treat.
posted by valkane at 9:09 AM on April 16


One thing in FMJ which I’m not sure was intentional - when the various field officers delivered similar insults as Gunny’s, they would be tinny and flat compared to his.

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posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:11 AM on April 16


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posted by Splunge at 9:38 AM on April 16


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posted by Smart Dalek at 9:41 AM on April 16


filmed his own audition tape of him yelling out insults while tennis balls flew at him

I must see this audition tape. I've wanted to ever since I first heard of it years ago.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:03 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]


I bet Death is the kind of guy that would fuck a person in the ass and not even have the goddamn common courtesy to give him a reach-around.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:05 AM on April 16 [8 favorites]


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posted by mrbill at 10:35 AM on April 16


My favourite Ermey line from FMJ is caustic and wildly inappropriate and I'm not entirely sure what it means, but it always makes me laugh. In the scene where Private Pyle climbs to the top of a tall obstacle and freezes, unable to cross over to descend the other side, GS Hartman berates him mercilessly for his failure and closes with this: "I will motivate you, Private Pyle, if it short-dicks every cannibal on the Congo!"

RIP, Gunny.
posted by HillbillyInBC at 10:36 AM on April 16


Another Ermey quote that echos in my head comes from the History Channel show he hosted, Mail Call, on which he frequently answered questions regarding historical weapons. He always performed live fire demonstrations, usually targeting watermelons.

One episode he was blasting away with some unreliable, inaccurate, antique firearm, firing round after round while the watermelon sat undisturbed on its stump. He narrated, "The Enemy was wily and elusive."
posted by rlk at 11:10 AM on April 16 [18 favorites]


I used to watch Mail Call while I lived at home and my mom would always sit down and watch it because she found him fascinating even though she had no interest in military equipment. I think the most you can ask for in life is to go out a beloved legend that influenced film, games, and TV.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 12:11 PM on April 16


One episode he was blasting away with some unreliable, inaccurate, antique firearm, firing round after round while the watermelon sat undisturbed on its stump. He narrated, "The Enemy was wily and elusive."

Closest I found was this about a crossbow. And boy are the rest of those outtakes filled with good natured cursing and hilarity, thanks for leading me to them. Maybe your clip didn't make the outtake reel since it was on the show itself.
posted by RolandOfEld at 12:36 PM on April 16 [3 favorites]


more tiffany -fucking- cuff links please

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posted by clavdivs at 12:36 PM on April 16


Honestly, if "Only his politics were objectionable" is the worst thing you can say about a man who lived in the public eye for decades and widely influenced how the military and military training especially is depicted in popular culture, well that's not bad. At ease, Marine.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 2:22 PM on April 16 [4 favorites]


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posted by killy willy at 2:35 PM on April 16


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posted by condour75 at 3:37 PM on April 16


Because I am hard, you will not like me, but the more you hate me, the more you will learn.

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posted by 4ster at 3:54 PM on April 16 [2 favorites]


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posted by scaryblackdeath at 4:04 PM on April 16


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posted by Joey Michaels at 4:35 PM on April 16


huh. I guess God does have a hardon for Marines. RIP.
posted by Pallas Athena at 4:41 PM on April 16


I saw him at a horror con in NJ many moons ago. (He was there to promote the Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning.) I don't remember exactly what he said, but I remember HOW he said it. He answered questions from the audience in exactly the way you would imagine, gruff but hilarious. He knew how to work a crowd, which you go to a lot of these things you know is a special talent.

You will be sorely missed, Gunny.

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posted by miss-lapin at 6:42 PM on April 16


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posted by Ignorantsavage at 7:35 PM on April 16


RolandOfEld: "Shit happens."

But shit didn't happen as badly as it could have, that time. I'm really glad you're alive, and whether they know it or not there are probably several families that are glad about it too. Well done.
posted by Riki tiki at 7:40 PM on April 16 [2 favorites]


Speaking of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake, this little anecdote made me chuckle.

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posted by Existential Dread at 7:49 PM on April 16


Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei. Requiescat in pace.
posted by ob1quixote at 9:38 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


"I will motivate you, Private Pyle, if it short-dicks every cannibal on the Congo!"

This could be the subject of its own FPP. Even the ancient interwebs can't come to a firm agreement on what this means.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:56 PM on April 16 [2 favorites]


They sent us home for Christmas exodus 5 or 6 weeks into my (army) basic training, so I took the opportunity to go to Blockbuster and rent a bunch of military movies I'd never seen, FMJ, Stripes, I dunno what else. So much of FMJ was eerily familiar... because my drill sergeant had just been lifting Ermey's lines verbatim. And then this was exactly me on this same obstacle, though at least the drill sergeants weren't channeling the movie at that point.
posted by Hal Mumkin at 5:12 AM on April 17


My friend laughs about one piece, states straight-up that no one would be able to get ammunition off the rifle range and into the barracks, he says that piece is utter fiction.

I used to run weapons ranges. I don't see why it would be difficult at all to get a round off the range. It's not like they pat the soldiers down after, and there is no shortage of pockets on the uniforms.

In Basic we had a soldier send rounds home through the mail that were taken from a range because he wanted a souvenir from Basic.

At the end of the every round of qualifications, you have to police all the brass (pick up spent rounds). You would occasionally find unfired rounds, probably from a misfire or jam that was cleared. They would also probably have done live fire exercises where you engage targets on the run or from hill to hill. No one is counting how many times you fired. No one is checking you after.

Weapons ranges are weird things. You have to fill out more paperwork to turn in unspent ammo, so at the end of the day, you line up a bunch of yahoos and you have them fire off all the remaining rounds, so then it's just one pice of paper certifying that all rounds were spent, rather than having to count and justify why you took more than you needed.

I remember running a sub-caliber LAW rocket range, and troops were required to hit a tank sized target down range like 50 yards. The rocket would fire, hit the "tank" and you would get a bang and a flash. The vast majority of infantry can do this with one rocket. You only have to hit one out of two to qualify, so most didn't bother firing the second rocket. I was looking at hundreds of unfired rockets. We had this high school kid with us that weekend as some kind of "explorer post" thingy. Basically take someone else's kid to work day for the military. So I asked the kid if he wanted to fire one. He did and did. He was so damn excited. So I told him he could fire as many as he liked.

A LAW rocket has this rubber detent trigger thingy. It takes quite a few pounds of pressure to squeeze one off. This kid fired a bunch. He was happier than anyone I'd ever seen. I thought they were about as fun as a bottle rocket. So I go through the protocols. Clear to the left, clear to the right, backlist area clear, fire when ready. I'm bored as fuck and phoning it in. Rocket after rocket. Clear to the left, clear to the right, backlist area clear, fire when ready. After a while he's slowing down, and I figure he's getting as bored as I am, but I still have a shit tonne of rockets to fire. I look over and he's having a hard time firing them. His fingers are slipping off the trigger. I figure he's just tired, since like I said, these things take a concerted effort to fire.

Long story less long, he'd gotten blisters at some point. These popped at some point. He started oozing plasma and then started flat out bleeding. He said nothing. Here he is firing off rockets with slick fingers nearly incapable of holding the damn thing. He thought they were so fun that he was fighting through the pain and injury.

I had a similar thing happen on a TOW missile exercise. After days of running around in the hills we had to discharge the simulators. These were basically electrically fired fireworks to make a bang and smoke. We ended up bundling a bunch together and firing them off using telephone line and a HMMWV battery. It was either that or bury them.

No one turns in unspent ammo.

If you are running a range and you have rounds leftover at the end of the day, and you can't find troop willing to line up and discharge them all down range, well then, you get to do it, because the weapons quartermaster wants to go home on time.

It's incredibly wasteful. One thing I can ever remember happening is anyone checking my pockets for unspent munitions. I never checked anyone's pockets either. Not in AIT or in the 6 years I was enlisted.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:45 AM on April 17 [7 favorites]


This post will always make me smile.
posted by plinth at 7:18 AM on April 17


But shit didn't happen as badly as it could have, that time. I'm really glad you're alive

Yea, I shudder to think what would have happened. I don't see how anyone could have actually shot another person but firing live rounds, as opposed to crimped/low power blanks, with a plugged M16.... The aftermath would have been a lot of exploded barrels and god knows what sort of potential face injuries. Glad I'm alive too. The ride down from GA Tech in a Blackhawk was fun at least...
posted by RolandOfEld at 11:36 AM on April 17


This post will always make me smile.

With this video (SLYT, with profanity of course) being the opposite - R.Lee's voice under the "head elf's" - always makes me laugh, too.

Parade rest, Gunny ...
posted by milnews.ca at 12:10 PM on April 17


He was terrific as a close analogue of Hartman in "The Seige of Firebase Gloria", a very entertaining B-movie shoot-em-up. Rest easy, DevilDog; Semper Fidelis.
posted by ergomatic at 9:41 PM on April 17


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