I think it is safe to say that anyone who is following the Devil Dog Graphix Blog knows who Gunnery Sergeant R. Lee Ermey is. But, just in case there are some FNG’s out there who have been living in a cave for the past 20 some years, let me educate you.
Ronald Lee Ermey is a retired United States Marine Corps drill instructor and a Golden Globe Award nominated actor. He had often played the roles of authority figures in his films, but his most famous and arguably best role came as Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Full Metal Jacket. Ermey also host two shows on the History Channel, Mail Call, in which he answered viewers’ questions about the military both modern and historic, and Lock ‘N Load with R. Lee Ermey, which focuses specifically on the development of different types of weapons.
So as my story goes, my unit had been in Iraq going on three months in 2003 when we got the word that R. Lee Ermey was coming to our area of operations to meet with the troops. The only problem was that not everyone in my unit would have a chance to meet him, but needless to say I made sure I wasn’t going to miss this opportunity. We loaded up on our 5 tons and rolled out of our company area, and through the Iraqi countryside to our battalion headquarters in An Nasiriyah.
Soon after we arrived, Gunny came rolling into the battalion compound in a convoy of three hummwv’s, as soon as he stepped out, a massive uproar from all the Marines there echoed throughout the area. He then got on the roof of one the hummwv’s in the middle of the compound, with all of us surrounding him, and proceeded to belt out a loud and boisturous OOH-RAH to all of us, which we graciously returned. He told us how we had great support from him and from everyone back home and that there was just a small percentage of those that did not back us. “Don’t believe all those people from Hollywierd,” which is how he refers to Hollywood, he said. “The majority of Americans back home support and believe in you. Don’t get down about all that stuff that is coming out of these people’s soup coolers from Hollywierd.” After that every Marine in the compound went nuts! Gunny continued with some more choice words about other members of the Hollywierd community, which gave us all a really good laugh.
Gunny talked for about fifty minutes, telling us stories from back home, his personal life experiences and answered questions from us. He then asked us to give him twenty minutes since he had not eaten any chow yet, but said, “As soon as I get some chow in me, I’m yours for the night, anything you want, autographs, photos, more stories, I am here for you guys.” I was like, wow! This man, which every Marine here emulates, has taken the time out of his busy schedule to come here to boost our moral and say that he is here for us. I had respect for him before, but after this day it would reach a whole new level.
Once Gunny got some chow in him, we all lined up in the battalion headquarters, waiting for our chance to meet the legend face to face. The other sergeants and myself waited at the end of the line, giving all of our Marines a chance to go first, just as all good sergeants do. Once my turn came I got to shake his had, get my picture taken and his autograph on an Iraqi dinar (Iraq’s paper currency). Once everyone in my unit got their chance to meet Gunny and get autographs and pictures we loaded back up on our 5 tons and headed back to our company area. All of us were still smiling and joking about meeting Gunny and how great and down to earth he was. I think its safe to say, that besides the day we left Iraq to come back home, this was probably the best day a lucky few of us had while serving over there.