R. Lee Ermey – The Classic Drill Sergeant

R. Lee Ermey USMC

R. Lee Ermey USMC

You may not know the name, but you might very well know the face. You think this guy is just an actor who seems to play a lot of roles as a drill sergeant or a tough guy? Guess again, private! He’s not from mamby pamby land! This guy was once a hardcore, bona fide drill sergeant in the United States Marine Corps for 2 of the 11 years he served in the military during the late 60s and early 70s.

Ronald Ermey served in Vietnam for 14 months, did 2 tours in Okinawa and has been the recipient of many service medals including the Vietnam Service Award and the Vietnam Gallantry Cross. Years after he medically discharged in 1972, he received recognition from movie critics for basically portraying himself as a drill sergeant in memorable scenes from movies like the Boys in Company C in 1978 and most notably, Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket in 1987

To watch some, may I say, inspirational clips from either movie, you can easily find a handful on You Tube. I highly recommend searching for the latter’s opening scene. It’s full of expletive deleteds so I chose not to include the clip. However Ermey’s portrayal of a Marine Corps drill sergeant at the Recruit Depot Parris Island South Carolina during the Vietnam War, seems pretty accurate, given that he actually did serve as a drill instructor at both Parris Island and the Recruit Depot in San Diego. He actually reminds me of my old drill instructor, Sergeant Miller back at Fort Ord CA who similarly did his share of yelling at me and my fellow Army recruits. Others may recall Ermey’s more recent voice over as Sarge, the leader of the toy soldiers in Pixar’s Toy Story series or even more recently as the retired drill sergeant who later became a psychiatrist in a 2011 Geico insurance commercial. Ermey has been featured in over 60 movies, and numerous television shows, and even starred in his own television show with the History Channel’s “Lock and Load” in 2009.

Fans of Ermey’s have said that by watching his performance in Full Metal Jacket, they became so inspired and motivated that they joined the Marine Corps. By re-watching his role in that movie, I can now sit back and enjoy the clip, while easily understanding why some men became inspired to serve their country and not mamby pamby land. Always Loyal!

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Randy Yagi

Randy Yagi

Randy Yagi is a senior writer with Milpages.com. He also writes for other online media sources, including Examiner.com and CBS San Francisco. A Vietnam era veteran, he worked in management positions in both local government and academic settings. He is a graduate of San Jose State University, and possesses degrees in Economics, Digital Publishing and Web Media and Liberal Arts. He was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University in October.
Randy Yagi
Randy Yagi