People, Places & Racing News

R. Lee Ermey “The Gunny” Passes Away

By SEMA Editors

R. Lee Ermey
R. Lee Ermey signs autographs in the Omix-ADA Off-Road Success Center at the SEMA Show.

R. Lee Ermey, “The Gunny,” who made an acting career out of his ability to bring stern military careerists to life, has died at age 74. His death was announced on Twitter by his manager Bill Rogin. Ermey was a fixture in the Omix-ADA Off-Road Success Center at the SEMA Show.

Ermey was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in Full Metal Jacket, but that was only one of his many military roles. Owing to his background as a former Marine Corps. staff sergeant and drill instructor, Ermey was able to project authority and resolute leadership in a number of roles.

Born in Emporia, Kansas, in 1944 as Ronald Lee Ermey, he had been arrested for criminal mischief twice by age 17. Given a choice between jail time or the military, he chose the Marine Corps., and served as a drill instructor in San Diego in the mid ’60s. He was eventually sent to Vietnam and served 14 months there. He was later a staff sergeant in Okinawa, but was medically discharged in 1972 because of injuries during his service. He later received an honorary promotion to gunnery sergeant by the Marines.

Ermey appeared in more than 55 films and was a voice actor in many others, including Roughnecks and X-Men 3. He also appeared in video games and numerous TV commercials.

No immediate information on survivors or a memorial service was available.