By: Robert Davis

R. Lee Ermey, known for his role as Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in “Full Metal Jacket” and for his outspoken support of Second Amendment rights, passed away Sunday from complications of pneumonia.

“It is extremely difficult to truly quantify all of the great things this man has selflessly done for, and on behalf of, our many men and women in uniform,” Bill Rogin, Ermey’s long-time manager, wrote in a statement. “The real R. Lee Ermey was a family man, and a kind and gentle soul. He was generous to everyone around him. And, he especially cared deeply for others in need.”

Ermey, a former United States Marine Corps staff sergeant and drill sergeant, made the Rifleman’s Creed famous in “Full Metal Jacket”: “This is my rifle. There are many like it, but this one is mine."

“There are many Gunny’s, but this one was OURS,” Rogin wrote. “And, we will honor his memory with hope and kindness. Please support your men and women in uniform. That’s what he wanted most of all.”

Ermey served in the Marine Corps from 1961 to 1972, achieving the rank of staff sergeant. He served with the Marine Wing Support Group 17 (MWSG-17) at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa, Japan.

In 1968, he was deployed to Vietnam with MWSG-17 and spent 14 months fighting for our country. He was medically discharged in 1972 because of several injuries incurred during his service. In 2002, he received an honorary promotion to gunnery sergeant (E-7) by the Commandant of the Marine Corps.

Ermey went on to host “Mail Call” on the History Channel and “Lock n’ Load with R. Lee Ermey,” a program chronicling the development of military weapons throughout history, in addition to “GunnyTime” on the Outdoor Channel.

Ermey, an elected member of the NRA Board of Directors, was a sharp critic of gun control. In an interview with NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris W. Cox, Ermey said of gun control proponents, “The people on the wrong side of the fence need to do a little more research!

“We need to take this country back and do it right now,” Ermey said. “I fought for this country, and now I’m watching these protesters and politicians trying to destroy this country, so I have to consider them my enemies—just politically, of course. I think it’s disgusting that we have been given the right to elect our leadership in this country, and so many don’t bother to vote.”

Ermey is survived by his wife Nila and their four children.

Semper Fi, Gunny. Godspeed.


Robert Davis is a journalist from Colorado. He covers defensive gun use and Second Amendment policy for Gunpowder Magazine. Contact him at

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons