The Marine best known on television and as a Golden Globe Award nominee for Best Supporting Actor as “The Gunny” died Sunday.
R. Lee Ermey was born in Emporia and and spent the first 14 years of his life growing up on a farm near Kansas City.
Ermey died from complications of pneumonia. He was 74.
He was born March 24, 1944. At age 17, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. From 1965 to 1967, he served as a drill instructor in India Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego.
Ermey played Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in the 1987 movie “Full Metal Jacket,” which earned him the Golden Globe nomination. His first movie was “Apocalypse Now” where he played a First Air Cavalry chopper pilot. He also was in “Mississippi Burning,” “Dead Man Walking” and was the voice of “Seargeant” in the Toy Story movies.
Ermey also hosted two programs on the History Channel including “Mail Call” where he answered questions about the military and “Lock N’ Load,” which featured various types of weapons.
On Sunday evening, there were several posts on Facebook including one from his long time manager, Bill Rogin:
“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. He has also contributed many iconic and indelible characters on film that will live on forever. Gunnery Sergeant Hartman of Full Metal Jacket fame was a hard and principled man. The real R. Lee Ermey was a family man, and a kind and gentle soul.”
J. Greg Jordan, director of the Lyon County History Center said Ermey still has relatives in the Emporia area and returned to his birthplace in 2004 for the 50th anniversary of Veterans Day. Emporia is the nationally recognized home of Veterans Day.
“He had a very engaging presence,” Jordan said. “He was very much a Marine. He was very proud of his hometown and honored to have served his country.”