Marine Veteran, actor and firearms enthusiast R. Lee Ermey passes, age 74

R. Lee Ermey, 1944-2018. (Photo: The Outdoor Channel)

Long associated with Glocks, guns, and everything Marines, Ronald Lee Ermey died Saturday from after complications from pneumonia.

With a life that included more than a decade on active duty in the Marine Corps, over 120 acting credits and becoming a fixture in the firearms community, Ermey’s long time manager, Bill Rogin announced “with deep sadness” that “The Gunny” passed.

Born in Kansas in 1944, during the tailend of World War II, Ermey joined the Marines at age 17 and, after service that included 14 months in Vietnam, was medically retired as a staff sergeant in 1972.

Ermey came to film first as a fictional drill instructor in 1978’s The Boys in Company C, then went on to become a technical advisor on a number of war films including Apocalypse Now, where he cameoed as an uncredited Huey pilot in the iconic Ride of the Valkyries scene before he became famous for his unfettered portrayal of Marine GySgt. Hartman, the epitome of a Parris Island drill instructor, who used profanity and critical appraisal like Michelangelo used a brush and clay in Full Metal Jacket, a role he semi-reprised numerous times.

In a series of television appearances, Ermey hosted the History Channel’s Mail Call and Lock n’ Load shows from 2007 to 2009, delving into military arms, customs and equipment, often riddling watermelons with various firearms for effect. Since 2015, he hosted GunnyTime on the Outdoor Channel. Additionally, he was featured in a long-running series of public appearances and spots for Glock and was elected to the board of directors for the National Rifle Association.

“After 14 years of working together and many more years of friendship, we are deeply saddened by the sudden loss of our good friend, Gunny,” said Glock on social media. “He was an integral part of our family and he will be deeply missed. Semper Fi, Gunny.”

Kirsten Joy Weiss, who appeared with Ermey numerous times and was set to film more rare firearm videos with the The Gunny in coming weeks, told Sunday was a gentleman and a great shot.

“We really respected each other. We both loved historical guns and shooting,” said Weiss in an email. “Bottom line we respected each other, and I’ll really miss my shootin’ buddy. We all will. I’ll see you again, Gunny.”

Despite his busy schedule, Ermey was a spokesman for the youth organization Young Marines, made frequent USO appearances and took part in speaking engagements for Veterans causes.

We caught up with Ermey a few years back, and he spoke about shenagigans as a teenager, his Marine service, and guns in general.

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