Marine and Iconic Actor R. Lee Ermey Has Passed Away at Age 74

The former Marine made famous by "Full Metal Jacket" passes at age 74.

News broke late on Sunday that R. Lee Ermey, the man best known for his iconic portrayals of military characters, has died at age 74.

In a statement on Facebook, Ermey's manager Bill Rogin announced Ermey's sudden passing from complications of pneumonia on Sunday morning.

"He will be greatly missed by all of us. It is a terrible loss that nobody was prepared for. He has meant so much to so many people. And, 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," the statement reads.

Born in Kansas, Ermey enlisted in the marines at age 17 and served in various capacities including as a drill instructor. Eventually he spent 14 months in Vietnam and some time in Okinawa before being discharged for medical issues as a result of service. He was honorarily given promotion to the rank of Gunnery Sergeant in 2002.

While he acted in several minor military roles before Full Metal Jacket, he didn't really achieve fame until his iconic portrayal of drill instructor Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in the 1987 Stanley Kubrick film. 

Originally brought on only as a technical advisor to the film, he made a tape of himself hurling insults at a group of Marines to prove to the director he was the man for the part. And Ermey's creative and profanity-laced tirades were said to so impress Kubrick, that he allowed Ermey to improvise much of the dialogue for the character, a rarity for any Kubrick film. The role earned him a Golden Globe.

Ermey went on to play a number of similar military-type roles over the years, even doing voiceover work as a plastic army man, "Sarge," in the Toy Story series of films. But he was also known for his love of all things to do with firearms.

He hosted two shows on military and firearms history for the History Channel, "Mail Call" and "Lock n' Load with R. Lee Ermey." He also hosted a firearms show for the Outdoor Channel called "Gunny Time."

In his later years, he was also known for conducting morale tours for troops to places like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kuwait.

Ermey was also a spokesman for many different outdoor brands including Glock Firearms, who expressed their condolences on their Twitter page.

The announcement of "Gunny's" death ended with a unique twist on the Rifleman's Creed.

"There are many Gunny's, but this one was OURS. 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.

Semper Fi, Gunny. Godspeed."

Our condolences to Ermey's family and friends in this difficult time from everyone here at Wide Open Spaces.