As our conversation came to an end, I felt the impending
doom of having to say god-bye to not only a man that I literally
worshipped, but to a good conversation that I will remember
for the rest of my life. He had to get back to work and I did
not want to overstay my welcome. He had already given me over
a half hour of his time and I was grateful for every second.
After we said our good-byes, I walked back to my friends who
seemed impressed that I spent so much time with our common hero.
I realized that they had lacked the bluntness that I had and
did not take the opportunity to have such a small audience with
Lee. As I walked back, I noticed that one of them had a camera
and the fact dawned on me that I did not have any physical proof
of our chance meeting. I had an idea and asked one of the Marines
if he would take a picture of me with Lee. He agreed and I went
back over to Lee who looked slightly confused at my sudden return.
I asked if I could get a picture and he obliged, holding a cigarette
in one hand. After the picture was taken, I jokingly added that
without the picture, no one would believe me that I had actually
met and talked to this great actor. I made the Marine swear
upon his mother's grave that he would get me a copy of the picture.
A few weeks later, I got a pleasant surprise when my Gunny,
returning from the I&I, gave me the photo you see on my
web page. Few memories such besides the birth of my children
are as special to me than this moment in time.
After all of this, I rushed back to my security office
to call my wife and tell her what had just happened to me.
I was bursting at the seams to let someone know, someone who
might have an inkling about what I felt at that moment. I
called Carrie and said, "You would never guess who I
just met! R. Lee Ermey!" Her response was hesitant as
she was not immediately sure who I was talking about. Then
she said, "He's the one, that guy..." Not being
able to let her stumble any further, I blurted out the entire
story in almost one sentence. I was so excited.
I did not get much studying done that night and I do not
remember how well I did on those midterms the next day. Whatever
I had learned from them, I have probably forgotten and could
not even come close to taking them again. But as far as the
memory of that day, I think that I internalized a far more
important snapshot in my life. The formula for sodium phosphate
might never again cross my mind but, until the day that I
die, I will remember meeting, talking with, and reminiscing
with my hero. Now what do you think is more important?
As you can tell, I like Lee Ermey. But what was surprising,
and it should not have been, is the saltiness of his
language. Too often, we put our heroes on too high a pedestal
and expect perfection from them. When it gets down to it,
Lee is a warm, considerate, family man who just happens to
make movies for a living. But deeper down, he is, was, and
will always be a Marine in the "Old Corps" sense
of the word. This means that part of his communication, especially
with a fellow Marine, is not impeded with political correctness.
I felt honored that he would talk so naturally and without
forethought of what he said might end up in the papers, tarnishing
his reputation. He spoke honestly and openly. Hell, after
Full Metal Jacket, his salty language might enhance his legend.
But despite his language, what shone through was a decency
rarely seen in person. Thank you Lee Ermey. Thank you for
Full Metal Jacket and the many other quality films
you have given us. Most of all, thank you for taking the time
to make a memorable day for me that day in Husky Stadium.
I hope we can continue our conversation some day.