Home » News & Analysis » Interview: Marine, Actor R. Lee Ermey On Military and the Media


Interview: Marine, Actor R. Lee Ermey On Military and the Media

Actor and Marine R. Lee Ermey, center, stands with GI Film Festival organizers Laura Law-Millett and Brandon Millett on Saturday, May 23, 2015. USNI News photo.

Actor and Marine R. Lee Ermey, center, stands with GI Film Festival organizers Laura Law-Millett and Brandon Millett on Saturday, May 23, 2015. US Naval Institute photo.

Actor and former Marine drill instructor R. Lee Ermey was honored at the GI Film Festival 2015 with this year’s Memorable Military Movie Character award for his award-winning portrayal of Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in the 1987 movie Full Metal Jacket.

Prior to accepting his award at the Angelika Film Center in Fairfax, Va., on Saturday, Ermey spoke to USNI News about how the military and its image in the media has changed since his time in the Marine Corps. Ermey served in the Marine Corps for 11 years, including a 1968 deployment to Vietnam.

USNI News: First, since we’re at a film festival, I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about how the military was portrayed in the media when you were in the military versus how you see it being portrayed now.

Ermey: How was it portrayed in the media? You know, I was in during the Vietnam era, so we weren’t widely respected at all. Matter of fact, that was the era when, when you came back from war, they spit on you. That was the hippie generation though. There’s still some problems, still some situations, and there’s still some people in this world who just refuse to support our beloved military. But you know, they’re going to be like that. I don’t care what Michael Moore thinks about it any damn way, to tell you the truth. So, matter of fact, as far as I’m concerned Michael can just go on back up to Canada and no one would miss him around here. But our military is well looked-after these days. We need to make some adjustments with the [Veterans Affairs] hospitals so we get a little better treatment around here. They promised us a lot, you know, and we sacrificed a lot, and we think we should receive payment in full. And so we’ll make a few adjustments, and it’ll get back on track.

Actor and Marine R. Lee Ermey arrives at the GI Film Festival and greets organizers Brandon Millett and Laura Law-Millett on Saturday, May 23, 2015. USNI News photo.

Actor and Marine R. Lee Ermey arrives at the GI Film Festival and greets organizers Brandon Millett and Laura Law-Millett on Saturday, May 23, 2015. USNI News photo.

USNI News: Watching military and veterans stories on the news, are there any things that have you concerned or any things you’d like to see further advanced for the veterans and military servicemen?

Ermey: There are a few things. But basically overall I think we’re well supported, the military is well supported these days. Even people in “Hollyweird” will sometimes tell me that they support the military. And I generally will ask them, well how do you support the military? Which really puts them at a disadvantage because they don’t expect that. And they’ll think for a minute and say, well, something like, you never hear me say anything bad about them. So I guess that’s supporting our military, right? But we’ve got to love the guys and gals who go fight for this country.

GI Film Festival awards show host Jamie Kaler, left, with Semper K9 executive director and K9 program manager Christopher Baity, right, his son, Beau, and working-dogs-in-training Norman and Mikey. The GI Film Festival honored support groups like Semper K9 at its red carpet event on Saturday, May 23, 2015. USNI News photo.

GI Film Festival awards show host Jamie Kaler, left, with Semper K9 executive director and K9 program manager Christopher Baity, right, his son, Beau, and assistance-dogs-in-training Norman and Mikey. The GI Film Festival honored support groups like Semper K9 at its red carpet event on Saturday, May 23, 2015. USNI News photo.

USNI News: We see a lot of yellow ribbons, we see a lot of stickers on cars supporting the military. Do you think we’re doing enough, or is there more you’d like to see?

Ermey: A lot of American flags too, on the sides of barns and everywhere you drive, everywhere you go you see American flags flying – properly flying, lit at night and such as that. How could I improve on what we’ve done so far? Well, I would rather we didn’t give Fallujah back. There’s a few things I think we need to stand up to. I think we can’t just ignore terrorism, we cant just turn our back on it and expect it to go away. I mean, somebody around here seems to think if you treat them nice they’ll like you and they’ll leave you alone, but that’s not the case. But our guys are in good shape, we’re ready to go any time. Matter of fact, call me back, I’m ready to go.

  • On Dre

    We should really stop listening to right wing actors.

    • Jay

      Americans prefer to vote for them.

    • WayneLLewis

      Why?

  • Jay

    Yeah, let’s make Iraq the 51st state. We can put a couple of McDonald’s and Walmarts in Fallujah and maybe an NFL franchise in Bagdad.

    • gunnerv1

      With Obama, that would actually become the 58th State (He did say there are “57 States”).

      • Treeman

        I agree. The biggest insult to our nation, but particularly the military, are the ignorant Gruber/Stupid voters that voted for Obama, a radical ghetto organizer.

        • Jay

          I’m waiting for Obama to invade the wrong country and get 4500+ Americans killed for nothing, waste a trillion dollars and rip the lid off the Middle East — but the Draft Dodging Duo of Dim Son and Dickless Cheney beat him to it. But they’re getting the Band back together for JeB!

          • R Hugh Sirius

            Words of Wisdom from Jay: Douche-Bag Salesman

          • Jay

            Now 11 days! But the same vapid repetition. Get some of the adults to teach you some new insults Huey. You’ve clearly mastered the art of clicking on the internet and remembering names but you’re starting to look like a stalker — I don’t hit your way Huey.

          • R Hugh Sirius

            People like yourself, who claim that they are easily bored, are a proving ground for limited intellectual development.

      • Jay

        Yeah, that was a felony. Surprised he didn’t get defeated or at least impeached for that huge error. Just terrible. I’m surprised he didn’t invade the wrong country yet.

    • WayneLLewis

      Let’s look at the tax base first. If we had of taken over the oil business, put their gov’t under our thumb, and Americanized their military – yep add a star!

  • gunnerv1

    The biggest difference I’ve noticed of the Navy from the time I was in (’64-’86) to now is that The Navy has become more “Pussyfied”, with “Organized” Liberty Parties (Attendance is not Mandatory but your Absence will be Noted) Your Enlisted’s are Adults, treat them that way (and punish those that bring discredit to the Uniform).

  • sgtsabai

    The “spitting” has been debunked so many times it isn’t even worth discussing. Just another part of the government whitewash of the American war in Vietnam. USMC Sgt-Vietnam 1966/67

    • Ctrot

      So since I assume you were not spit on that means no one was? That’s a stupid stance.

    • sgtsabai

      As I said, debunked many times. Not one proven case of being spit on. And no, I was never spit on. In fact I was a member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War and worked actively with anti-war organizations. We were warmly received by all except the VFW and the government.

      • Ctrot

        Debunked by who? That is a ridiculous claim, I KNOW men who were spit on. Of course they don’t have video so you would disregard their claim, but that says more about you than them.

      • sgtsabai

        There is a well researched book out, has been for years. I’ve never met anybody that was spit on. The ridiculous claim is that it happened.

      • Jay

        Great point. That mythical “spitting” meme was part of the propaganda initiated by Raygun and his minions to put the sexy back in mindless international interventions and violence. America could not be Exceptional otherwise.

        • P G

          If you’ve met Gay Activists Spitting on Christians it’s very believable. Something the Left enjoys doing to the “uptight”. Believable that Draft Resistors would hate Medal wearing Uniform types that went. But no huh?

          • Jay

            Uhhhhh — what’s your point? So you’re a “Christian” who has been “spit upon” by “gay activists”? Or you know some Christian who has somehow concerned him or her self with others’ genital usage and been spit upon? And where does “The Left” fit in here? Other than being the opposite of “uptight”? (Is there a “The Right” involved here? Whom do they hate and spit upon?) And the analogy is to Draft Resistors hating and spitting on “Medal wearing Uniform types” that served in Vietnam? (Except Bush and Cheney and a bunch of other “Christians” who love war but manage to avoid actual combat — but that’s another discussion.) I doubt there were a lot of instances of Vietnam Vets in or out of uniform and wearing medals mixing together with anti-war activists and draft resistors on multiple occasions to provoke such widespread spitting incidents — but you can provide me examples, right? Same with the gays spitting on “Christians” — although that’s off-topic. You can provide me actual examples. Maybe you could also provide some actual examples of gay anti-war activists spitting on gay (closeted, of course) Medal wearing Uniform types? Just to make the entire discussion more complex yet pointless. A handful of anecdotal incidents does not constitute a widespread statistical trend.

    • WayneLLewis

      Wasn’t debunked by me.