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The Gunny Tribute Special: Remembering R. Lee Ermey

The Gunny Tribute Special: Remembering R. Lee Ermey
(dramatic music) - He was more proud to be a Marine than he was to be an actor. - He was so alive in what he did. And he cared about what he did. There was just something very

special

about R. Lee

Ermey

. - Between his characters that he plays in the movies and the real life

Gunny

, worlds apart. He's a giant teddy bear. If I were to describe my Grandpa, I think he was really loving and really caring. He was definetly always the life of the party. He was a really funny guy and always made everybody laugh. He was compasonite and caring. Using his celebrity status to spread awareness and make a difference in the lives of veterns. -No one seems to want to take care of the veterns except for the veterns. The people in America think that the government takes care of us. -

Gunny

would say the first person to step up to help a veteran is gonna be another veteran, and he's and example of that. He was as authentic as he appeared. - Full Metal Jacket probably led me to join the Marine Corps. Obviously the best-lookin' uniforms of all the services in my opinion. - He makes you wanna be on that next level of mannerisms and respect. He was funny, he had so many stories to tell, I just... It was humbling for me. - I learned more from that guy than anybody will ever know. He wanted to be doing this and never retire. - He treated his fans like they were just friends that he had not met yet. And the things that the

Gunny

did, to really make a difference in every single community...
the gunny tribute special remembering r lee ermey
that we went to, it's priceless. (dramatic music) - Today, we're paying

special

tribute

to our good friend and mentor, the one, the only, Gunnery Sergeant R. Lee

Ermey

. Best known to fans around the world as the

Gunny

,

Gunny

left us all too abruptly, and way too early, during our ongoing mission here at Military Makeover. You know, after every scene that we would shoot, at the end of every day that we worked on a home makeover,

Gunny

would look around and say, "What's next?" Now for him, it really wasn't about the next shot or even the next day. He was asking about our next makeover, our next mission for another deserving veteran, because he thought of them as his veterans, every single one of them.

Gunny

had a mission. When he stepped in front of our cameras for Military Makeover, it was to shine a light on the service, sacrifice, and the needs of all who served in the military. So join us, as we honor the memory of our friend, Gunnery Sergeant R. Lee

Ermey

, United States Marine Corps, Retired. The

Gunny

. (dramatic music) (piano music) - Ron was trouble from the very beginning. He was, I would just say he was a hell raiser. You know, no really bad damage, maybe some little mischievous things like drinkin' when he was 15, 16 years old, and a little vandalism at the school, wrecking a neighbor's truck when he didn't have a driver's license, and finally ended up goin' into a detention center, into the juvenile court. After the judge...
the gunny tribute special remembering r lee ermey
looks through all his record, he said, "You know, the way I see this, Mr.

Ermey

, "you only really have a couple of choices. "You, your parents, your dad doesn't want you back "'cause you're a troublemaker, "and you can't seem to resolve that. "So you're gonna either go into "detention center, juvenile hall. "Your other alternative is that "you could go into the military. At the Yakima Courthouse there were two recruiters, Navy and Marines. He went to the Navy and he told them the story and the Nay said, "You know what, "we have no use for you in the Navy." So he went next door to the Marines and the Marines said, "Yup, we got our man. "We'll straighten you out." - So, in 1961, a 17-year old R. Lee

Ermey

, compelled by a judge's order, enlisted in the Marine Corps. In the Marines, Lee found his true calling and entered the military family he would never leave. By 1965 he was a drill instructor preparing other young Marines for war. Remarkably, living and loving the role that would shape his future. Sent to Vietnam, he and his fellow Marines were on the front lines and experienced the overwhelming brutality of the war. It was shrapnel from an enemy rocket that ended his dream of a long career in the Corps. Actually, he would never truly leave. Once a Marine, always a Marine. - For him, the military probably saved his life. And that's why it meant so much to him. - As...
the gunny tribute special remembering r lee ermey
Stanley Kubrick and the rest of the world were to discover, R. Lee

Ermey

now brought a force that could not be denied to his new passion, acting. - What did our family think about my brother's acting career? My mom was really quite proud, but my dad, uh, he wasn't so happy about it. My brother was in Clinton, Illinois when he got the big offer from Stanley Kubrick. I remember him calling me and he was so excited for this movie called Full Metal Jacket. If you fast forward, Warner Brothers was gonna introduce the movie and they found out that my parents had never seen the movie. So, my dad's calling me, he says, "You're not gonna believe this, "but a limo picked us up, took us to Seattle "to this theater, and we walk in," and he said, "There's nobody there." He said, "That's when I was told "that it was a private viewing, "for just your mom and I." He said, "That's where I realized that your brother's doing okay." (piano music) - I was working as a waitress at the restaurant in Manila. Lee was going to school, and he came in on my 20th birthday. I notice him because he was nice to two little boys that were playing in the restaurant. He came back with an apple and a necklace for my birthday, and after that he came to the restaurant every day to see me. This necklace remind me of him. To be Mrs.

Gunny

is hard, because I am a shy person (laughs). But I am also proud to be Mrs.

Gunny

. -...
People have often asked me if growing up with my dad was like Lee

Ermey

boot camp. He tried to be a disciplinarian, but, you know, after every harsh word there was ice cream. He was full of contradictions. He was the toughest guy, but the softest guy. Hard, but kind. Eccentric. Patriotic. - He made every day into an adventure even if it was just going to the store to pick up some milk. We would go on family car rides which would be hours and hours and he would sing, but it always the same cassette tape, over and over again. It was really bad, but he loved to sing. - Hey yo

Gunny

, what's the sit rap? - Said rap? Its SITREP. - Sitrap. - SITREP, not sit rap. It's, gah, SITREP, SITREP, not sit rap. (rap music) � Yo,

Gunny

, yo � � Yo,

Gunny

, yo � � It's the sit rap � - SITREP, not rap. � Right on time � � Right on time. � � Misguided pilgrim � � Mad cap � � Mad cap, mad cap � (rap music) -

Gunny

,

Gunny

,

Gunny

, hey, you alright? You zoned out on me there for a minute. - You're making me crazy. - My father loved comedy. He actually had done standup on Sunset Strip back in the 70s just to make a little extra money to help pay the rent, because he was a struggling actor at the time. - The

Gunny

enjoyed playing a lot of different roles as an actor, but most of all, he liked comedy, he loved comedy. And if you talk to him about Full Metal Jacket he would say that his role was somewhat of a comedy. - All these different roles that he...
played, one of them, his absolute favorite, was Fletch Lives, when he played the Reverend Jimmy Lee Farnsworth. And he said, "Jack, I always wanted to play "the sleazeball minister, "and now I get to do it." And it was great. - This is The

Gunny

saying at ease. Come on Art, that's attention. - Oh, sorry. - What is it, take 20? - No, I thought that that ... - How many (beep). - I'm trying, okay? - You'd never make it in the Marines. - I am trying. (dramatic music) - You know, Art and I feel so privileged to be the hosts of Military Makeover. What an honor. - And it's really important to the

Gunny

and I that we present Military Makeover to you, the viewer, in a light-hearted and entertaining manner. - But we all know who the real stars of the show are. America's men and women of the armed forces. Those who have willingly gone into harm's way on our behalf. We must never forget the sacrifices that they've made. - And the reward of a hug, a simple thanks for your service, or hey, what the heck. Take care of their tab at a restaurant. We should always remain a grateful nation. - Good job, Art. Semper Fi. - I remember when they first told us that this guy R. Lee

Ermey

was gonna be co-hosting Military Makeover. I was like oh, wow, okay. And I looked him up and I was like, oh no, that guy! You know, from Full Metal Jacket. And I was like I'm dead. I mean, this guy's gonna just tear me to pieces. - Art! - Hey

Gunny

, I just...
finished sweeping the garage like you told me to. - That's a beautiful thing. Me and the boys are heading on out now, so with us out of the way you can have this place spic and span by the time we get back in the morning. What do you think? - I, I thought we were going to dinner together. - Art, you thought wrong. Why don't you do something useful? Throw us to commercial. - I guess Military Makeover will be right back after this. - Bringing

Gunny

to the show was a beautiful accident. One of our associate producers was in my office, and had a magazine ad, and it was around hiring heroes. And in the ad was

Gunny

. I looked at her and I said he would be the best host. - When I found out he was doing the show, I had to go back and watch Full Metal Jacket, Mississippi Burning, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Seven, the voice of Sarge in Toy Story. But he also knew why he was there. He was there to represent the veterans and why we were doing this. - With all due respect, we all, all of us, need to pitch in where we can, and that includes you. - The

Gunny

was the anchor of the show. He was the perfect fit. He just personified Military Makeover, and once we had the anchor, everything else around him fell into place. - I'm Gunnery Sargent R. Lee

Ermey

, join me and a platoon of dedicated professionals for another Military Makeover. Okay boys, I want to hear hammers hammering, saws sawing. (whirring) (laughs) Oh yeah. - How are you? - Nervous. Excited. We had nothing. Literally...
nothing, and come on honey, help out here. - Wow. So we've been really busy, okay. Your gonna love the kitchen. - From not having even tile in our bedroom to just everything they did. I mean just getting a bedroom set or a dining set that we didn't have, that meant a lot to me because my family had a place to eat. That really did impact us or helped, and it gave me hope. - Deep in his heart he was thoroughly on a mission to be motivator in chief to get everybody excited about how to take care of our veterans, how to give back to them. And just spreading that message to everyone around him. (military rhythm on drums) - I would call you people to attention, but there is no question in my military mind you wouldn't know how to go to attention if I asked you too. You're not good at military stuff, but I tell you one thing I know you are good at. And that is the deck. You call it flooring, I call it decking. Now, inside this house you will find 1,000 square feet of deck. You have got about 20 minutes to get in that house and get this done. You got it, go! Make it happen. - Ultimately, I know the one thing I can offer is giving these veterans a home that will help them have a new beginning. - White, I come through the damn door, what do I see Jen? I see white. Everything is white. What are you gonna do about that? - Isn't white a color? (laughs) - White. - I know. - White is a non-color. - I know, but I'm gonna add the soul, it's gonna be amazing, I...
promise. Trust me. Oh my gosh, working with the

Gunny

is absolutely amazing because, think about it, he's a film icon. And I know he really believes in doing this for the veterans, and I know he probably hates my design style. - White doesn't work. We gotta go something about that, okay. Jennifer comes in, and by the time she gets finished it looks like home, not just a house, but a home. I can't call this a job. It's a habit that I have. But it's a fun habit, and it's helps my veterans. And anything that helps the veterans I'm game for. That's the way it is. It's beautiful. - You know, everything was Semper Fi. Everything was, you know, always faithful, that's who

Gunny

is. That's who

Gunny

, like his personality is. He's faithful, e

special

ly to veterans and military. - I always wanted one of these babies for my pasture. That'd look good out there in my pasture. Now, now we're talking. Tank. - Tanks. - This is a big old tank, one of the first ones made. That's a big sardine can. Now, you were flying helicopters. You know, Extortion 17. Are you okay, do you feel good about talking about it to me? - Absolutely. - Okay. - Yes. - Would you mind telling me what happened, what's going on? - Well, I was a Chinook guy. My crash was Extortion 17. My chopper went down June 25, 2011. The second Extortion 17 crash was carrying members of Seal Team 6 on board, and uh, all 31 were killed. - Oh. - Yeah, it's uh... - That,...
that's bad. - It's tough to be in the same sentence as that, because I'm still here, you know. So, having two crashes of Extortion 17, it's tough to deal with every day. He was very careful of his words about how sensitive that subject is. Of course I wanna to talk about it because I want those men never to be forgotten. And so, it was a proud moment to talk about the fallen soldiers, and be on the same basis as the

Gunny

was. - The

Gunny

had a way of making sure that he never lost track of the veterans. For me to manage him, I had to be aware immediately, that military comes first. - He always wanted to try to help the Marines, or veterans. That was his family. They were all brothers. - You know, as I travel across this country I do find one idea that binds us all together. We all support, and are inspired by, the great folks who dedicated their lives to our security and safety. Protecting us, running toward the danger when there's an emergency. You gotta admire those guys. - You can tell he's genuine with everything that he feels and does. He's not doing it for publicity or to be in the spotlight, he truly has a huge heart and just wanted to help veterans. The world needs a few more people like that. - The last time that Lee came into Bravery Brewing Company, he was not feeling well. Some Marines were coming up from about two hours away, sure enough he showed up and those dozen or so Marines that were there, he made their day. And he stayed with...
them. He took pictures, signed autographs. That's the kind of guy he was. He gave so much time and so much love to his Marines. - Military service and standing in defense of our country is a big deal. Our military and all of our first responders are a big deal. We need to be there for them and support them in any way we can. (hard rock music) -

Gunny

, it looks like we did it. Another Military Makeover in the books. - Everybody's happy. The tears that you see are tears of joy, not of sadness. You know what I always say, give a veteran a hug, take that veteran to dinner tonight. -

Gunny

, I'm gonna take you to dinner, but I'm not giving a hug. - Oh, come on. (laughing) - An American hero has left the scene leaving a void that won't be filled. You know, for five years, we produced this show Military Makeover. And we found it rewarding and inspiring. And we're so fortunate to be able to help incredibly deserving veterans and their families. Our passion and commitment would not burn so brightly if it wasn't for the example and guidance of our dear friend, R. Lee

Ermey

, the

Gunny

. When we started it, it was a good idea. It's now a true passion, and a mission that isn't over.

Gunny

may have left us, but you know what, I can still hear his voice like he's standing right next to me saying, "Art, when's the next one?" The Military Makeover mission continues. We're on it,

Gunny

. (poignant piano music) - Semper Fi, take care.