5 Unforgettable Quotes From R. Lee Ermey, The Iconic Marine-Turned-Actor Buried Today At Arlington

Mandatory Fun

R. Lee Ermey was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery on Friday.

Best known for his iconic role as the Marine Corps drill instructor Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in the war drama Full Metal Jacket, Ermey died April 15, 2018 at age 74 due to complications from pneumonia, Task & Purpose previously reported.


A Vietnam War veteran and former Marine drill instructor, Ermey leveraged his military experience to pursue a career as an actor and technical adviser, who racked up more than 60 film and television credits, while still making time to support active duty service members deployed overseas.

Though his onscreen roles included a few "kid friendly" performances like his green army man, Sarge, in Toy Story, it was Ermey's knack for cutting loose with a string of profanity that bordered on poetic that so perfectly captured the image of the hard-as-nails Marine Corps drill instructor. He had a unique ability to be both hilarious and intimidating, and it's one that will be sorely missed and remembered.

Here are five of R. Lee Ermey's greatest rants, speeches, and quotes.

On recruit training

Perhaps one of the most iconic boot camp scenes of all time, nearly every sound, syllable and word that came out of his mouth during the first half of Full Metal Jacket is a gem, which is pretty high praise, not just of Ermey's performance, but because he also wrote about half of his lines, notes Rolling Stone magazine. Here's just a snippet of Gunnery Sgt. Hartman's welcome aboard brief:

"If you ladies leave my island, if you survive recruit training, you will be a weapon. You will be a minister of death praying for war. But until that that day, you are pukes. You are the lowest form of life on Earth. You are not even human fucking beings. You are nothing but unorganized grab-ass-tic pieces of amphibian shit!"

On discipline

Also from Full Metal Jacket, if you've stepped on the yellow footprints, you'll likely recall at least one drill instructor doing their best to mimic the legendary actor's colorful ass chewings, though none will ever be quite as good as this one:

"You little scumbag! I got your name! I got your ass! You will not laugh! You will not cry! You will learn by the numbers! I will teach you! Now get up! Get on your feet! You had best unfuck yourself, or I will unscrew your head and shit down your neck!"

On constructive criticism

In a 2010 advertisement for Geico, Ermey plays a therapist who gives some sage advice to his client.

"You know what makes me sad? You do! Maybe we should chug on over to namby-pamby land, where maybe we can find some self confidence for you, ya jackwagon!" Ermey says in the ad spot, before flinging a box of tissues at his client. Unorthodox, sure. Funny as hell? Also, yes.

Though Ermey's run as Geico's drill-sergeant-therapist was short-lived, allegedly owing to him being let go from the job after his public criticism of the Obama administration, it's possible that he may may have missed his calling in life.

On humor

During a History Channel special in 2001, Ermey discussed his time training Marine Corps recruits during the height of the Vietnam War. In the interview he shed light on a fundamental truth about Marine Corps recruit training: Your drill instructors are pretty much rage-filled stand-up comics.

"I'm a firm believer that the greatest instructors in the Marine Corps today and of yesteryear have always been just damn near stand-up comedians," he said in the segment.

And there's a lot of truth to this, just think about all the times you were told to do something totally bizarre, like hop across the squad bay saying "ribbit ribbit" because you decided to play around with the green cammie paint and the DI thought you looked like a frog. No? Okay, me either...

On motivation

Another observation Ermey made during that History Channel interview is that no matter what, drill instructors will find a way to motivate a nasty recruit to complete whatever task they've set before him or her.

"I could have a private who can do nine pull-ups and damn it, when I'm through talking to him, he can do 12. Why? Because I've intimidated this private so severely that I've convinced him that he can do 12 or he's going to die. That's why."

SEE ALSO: 10 Things You Never Realized About 'Full Metal Jacket'

WATCH NEXT: Matthew Modine vs. Duffel Blog

Ryan Kules

Editor's note: A combat wounded veteran, Ryan served in the U.S. Army as an armor officer assigned to 1st Battalion, 13th Armor Regiment. While deployed to Iraq in 2005, his vehicle was hit with an improvised explosive device buried in the road. He works as the Wounded Warrior Project's national Combat Stress Recovery Program director.

On Nov. 29, 2005, my life changed forever. I was a 24-year-old U.S. Army armor captain deployed to Taji, Iraq, when my vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device. On that day, I lost two of my soldiers, Sgts. Jerry Mills and Donald Hasse, and I lost my right arm and left leg.

Read More Show Less
(U.S. Marine Corps photo)

CAMP PENDLETON — Susan and Michael McDowell attended a memorial in June for their son, 1st Lt. Conor McDowell. Kathleen Isabel Bourque, the love of Conor's life, joined them. None of them had anticipated what they would be going through.

Conor, the McDowells' only child, was killed during a vehicle rollover accident in the Las Pulgas area of Camp Pendleton during routine Marine training on May 9. He was 24.

Just weeks before that emotional ceremony, Alexandrina Braica, her husband and five children attended a similar memorial at the same military base, this to honor Staff Sgt. Joshua Braica, a member of the 1st Marine Raider Battalion who also was killed in a rollover accident, April 13, at age 29.

Braica, of Sacramento, was married and had a 4 1/2-month-old son.

"To see the love they had for Josh and to see the respect and appreciation was very emotional," Alexandrina Braica said of the battalion. "They spoke very highly of him and what a great leader he was. One of his commanders said, 'He was already the man he was because of the way he was raised.' As parents, we were given some credit."

While the tributes helped the McDowells and Braicas process their grief, the families remain unclear about what caused the training fatalities. They expected their sons eventually would deploy and put their lives at risk, but they didn't expect either would die while training on base.

"We're all still in denial, 'Did this really happen? Is he really gone?' Braica said. "When I got the phone call, Josh was not on my mind. That's why we were at peace. He was always in training and I never felt that it would happen at Camp Pendleton."

Read More Show Less
(Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)

SEOUL (Reuters) - The United States looks set to break a promise not to hold military exercises with South Korea, putting talks aimed at getting North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons at risk, the North Korean Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.

The United States' pattern of "unilaterally reneging on its commitments" is leading Pyongyang to reconsider its own commitments to discontinue tests of nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), the ministry said in a pair of statements released through state news agency KCNA.

Read More Show Less
(Courtesy of Roman Sabal)

A deported Marine Corps veteran who has been unable to come back to the U.S. for more than a decade was denied entry to the country Monday morning when he asked to be let in for a scheduled citizenship interview.

Roman Sabal, 58, originally from Belize, came to the San Ysidro Port of Entry around 7:30 on Monday morning with an attorney to ask for "parole" to attend his naturalization interview scheduled for a little before noon in downtown San Diego. Border officials have the authority to temporarily allow people into the country on parole for "humanitarian or significant public benefit" reasons.

Read More Show Less
Jeff Schogol

Navy Secretary Richard Spencer took the reins at the Pentagon on Monday, becoming the third acting defense secretary since January.

Spencer is expected to temporarily lead the Pentagon while the Senate considers Army Secretary Mark Esper's nomination to succeed James Mattis as defense secretary. The Senate officially received Esper's nomination on Monday.

Read More Show Less