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It’s not often that we find a celebrity as tied to the Second Amendment as R. Lee Ermey.

Sure, there’s an argument in there for ol’ Clint Eastwood as well, especially given his role as the quintessential American cowboy, but Ermey’s credentials go way beyond his time on the big screen.

With a life that included more than a decade on active duty in the Marine Corps, over 120 acting credits and becoming a fixture in the firearms community, Ermey’s long time manager, Bill Rogin announced “with deep sadness” that “The Gunny” passed.

Born in Kansas in 1944, during the tailend of World War II, Ermey joined the Marines at age 17 and, after service that included 14 months in Vietnam, was medically retired as a staff sergeant in 1972.

Where we all know Ermey from, however, was his transition into Hollywood, where he would steal scenes in some of America’s greatest films.

Ermey came to film first as a fictional drill instructor in 1978’s The Boys in Company C, then went on to become a technical advisor on a number of war films including Apocalypse Now, where he cameoed as an uncredited Huey pilot in the iconic Ride of the Valkyries scene before he became famous for his unfettered portrayal of Marine GySgt. Hartman, the epitome of a Parris Island drill instructor, who used profanity and critical appraisal like Michelangelo used a brush and clay in Full Metal Jacket, a role he semi-reprised numerous times.

In a series of television appearances, Ermey hosted the History Channel’s Mail Call and Lock n’ Load shows from 2007 to 2009, delving into military arms, customs and equipment, often riddling watermelons with various firearms for effect. Since 2015, he hosted GunnyTime on the Outdoor Channel. Additionally, he was featured in a long-running series of public appearances and spots for Glock and was elected to the board of directors for the National Rifle Association.

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Reactions from around the internet painted a heartfelt picture of Ermey, who touched a great many lives during his time on the planet.


And, of course, all of us here at Keep and Bear would like to extend our condolences to the friends of family affected by the loss of R. Lee Ermey.


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