Ronald Lee Ermey [VIDEO] was a decorated United States Marine, voice actor, and actor that passed on late Sunday night, after a battle with pneumonia, at age 74. He was born on March 24th, 1944 in Emporia, Kansas. After he frequently got in trouble as a teenager, one judge had enough and offered him two choices, either the military or prison. He chose the military and stayed in for 11 years. Shortly after retiring from the military, he married his wife Nila Ermey in 1975. Following that, he performed in many movies of the military variety, including "Full Metal Jacket."

Military career

Mr. Ermey enlisted in the Marine Corps at age 17 and went to recruit training in San Diego, California at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot where he transformed from man to Marine.

San Diego graduates were called, “Hollywood Marines" -- could this have been foreshadowing his acting career? Anyway, through his 11 years of service, he was a drill instructor for Insane India company, of the Third Recruit Training Battalion from 1965 to 1967 in San Diego, paying homage to his Marine Corps roots. Through his arduous and dedicated service, he achieved the rank of Staff Sergeant (E6) and was medically discharged in 1972 due to service-related injuries. However, in 2002 he was given an honorary promotion to Gunnery Sergeant (E7) and was the first Marine to ever be honorarily promoted after retirement.

His military awards included: A Meritorious Unit Commendation, Good Conduct Medal with two bronze stars, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with one silver star, Marine Corps Drill Instructor Ribbon, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with palm, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with the 1960 device.

Some of his badges included Rifle Marksman and the Pistol Sharp Shooter Badge.

Acting career

Ronald Ermey was best known for his golden globe award nomination for playing Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in the 1987 Vietnam War era film, "Full Metal Jacket." He also played a First Air Cavalry chopper pilot in "Apocalypse Now," and a Marine Corps Drill Instructor in "The Boys In Company C."

In memoriam

I was such a fan of Ronald Lee Ermey growing up. I was so moved by his portrayal of Gunnery Sergeant Hartman [VIDEO] in "Full Metal Jacket" that it inspired me to join the Marine Corps family as well. I learned so much about the hallmarks of becoming a Marine through watching this movie, from the spirit, and the discipline instilled into the recruits. Everything about his role was so authentic, from the uniforms to the cadences, to the original scripts that sounded like eloquent “redneck grunt poetry," as Variety put it. I hope that he watches down upon the Earth as heaven’s official security guard, eating all the mess hall jelly donuts he wants, and penning new recruit insults. Fly high, and Semper Fidelis, sir.