Veteran actor and former US Marine, R. Lee Ermey, has passed away at the age of 74.

Throughout his career, his persona of tough military man earned him numerous accolades and a huge fan base.

While most of the fans have known his filmography, here are some lesser-known facts about the Full Metal Jacket drill instructor.

Almost joined Navy

Back in his youth, Ermey was quite a troublemaker and was arrested twice. At the time, he was given a choice to join the military.

As his father was a Navy veteran, he also wanted to join the Navy. He was rejected, and he subsequently joined the Marine Corps.

Before he joined the Corps, he did not even know that they existed.

How he met his wife

After he was medically discharged in 1972, he was having doubts about how to spend his time as a civilian.

He briefly ran a bar and later escaped to the Philippines after Japanese intelligence agency caught the whiff of his illegal marketing.

All worked out for good, as he met his future wife, Nila, there. They got married in 1975 and had four children together.

First movie role

Ermey made debut in Hollywood after he was cast in the Vietnam War classic, Apocalypse Now, by the director, Francis Ford Coppola, himself.

However, his first role was in another war movie, The Boys in Company C, as Staff Sergeant and Drill Instructor, Loyce.

Promoted after retirement

After his fourteen months service in Vietnam, he was promoted as a Staff Sergeant. 

However, in 2002, he was promoted to E-7, Gunnery Sergeant, by Marine Corps Commandant, James L. Jones.

Till this day, Ermey is the one and only Corps retiree, who has has been promoted. 

Full Metal Jacket Role

Ermey’s most iconic role as foul-mouthed Gunnery Sergeant Hartman almost did not happen.

He was a technical advisor for the movie and was reading the part of Hartman while interviewing the extras.

He recorded the interview session, and after director, Stanley Kubrick, watched the tapes, he cast Ermey in the role. 

He also became one of the rare actors who was allowed to improvise by Kubrick.

Fun Fact: He wrote 150 pages of insults for the movie.