By Nondice Powell, Fort Campbell CourierMay 29, 2009
"You will not like me, but the more you hate me, the more you will learn," barked Gunnery Sgt. Hartman to his Marine Corps recruits.
R. Lee Ermey, best known for his role as the drill instructor Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in "Full Metal Jacket" and as the host of "Mail Call," came to Fort Campbell, Ky., Wednesday to film segments for his new show "Lock and Load."
"For those folks who have already seen 'Mail Call,' which has been on for five years pretty much, and it was the highest rated show on the History Channel for a while, we've replaced that with 'Lock and Load,'" said Ermey. "It is basically 'Mail Call' on steroids. It's a one hour show and comes out in July."
Ermey served 11 years in the Marine Corps before being medically discharged and taking up acting. He came to the 101st Airborne Division to film segments for "Lock and Load" on helicopters and artillery. He completed a tandem jump out of one of 6th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment's CH-47F Chinook helicopters with members of the 101st Airborne Division Parachute Demonstration Team and took part in a range with 3rd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment.
"It worked out real well because we were able to come here to Fort Campbell and kill two birds with one stone," said Ermey.
This was not Ermey's first visit with the Screaming Eagles. He visited with troops during a trip to Iraq. The opportunity to spend time with Soldiers is something he enjoys.
"It's wonderful," said Ermey. "It's always good. The guys are great. I like hanging out with them. I wouldn't be doing what I do if I didn't. It keeps me young. It is always a breath of fresh air to come hang out with the guys for a day or two."
For Ermey's trip to Fort Campbell, Sgt. Major Keith Hudson, 3rd Brigade Combat Team operations sergeant major, didn't have to add any missions to the training schedule in order for the crew to get the footage they needed.
"We didn't have to manufacture a lot of this," said Hudson. "The firing point and the [observation points] were already owned and occupied by our Red Knights. This wasn't even a training distracter."
For some it actually added to the training experience. Some of the Soldiers had not seen an F model of the CH-47 Chinook helicopter.
Many have only seen and worked with the D model. Fort Campbell was the first to receive the new F model helicopters in 2007.
"It's a good training opportunity," said Hudson. "That's the latest and greatest."
Hudson explained it was a humbling experience to meet the man many servicemembers best remember for his role in "Full Metal Jacket."
"He is larger than life," said Hudson. "He is Gunnery Sergeant Hartman. He is a Vietnam veteran. He is a great American. Gunny is a great man. We could use a lot more of him."
After having lunch with the Rakkasans, Ermey headed out to the airfield to shoot more footage with the flight crew who took him up for his jump and to shoot stand-ups for his show. He uses that gruff and matter-of-fact tone he is known for to explain what is going on to viewers.
"The C-H in CH-47 stands for cargo helicopter," said Ermey, yelling into the camera. "But don't kid yourself. This ain't no...minivan. This thing goes where the action is."
Ermey enjoyed his trip to Fort Campbell. He sees his show as a good recruiting tool for all branches and as a way to show his support of the military.
"We are all in this together," said Ermey. "We support one another. I support the Army as much as I do the Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard or the Navy. We work well together. We're getting the job done, plain and simple."
"Somebody needs to support the military and I know the American people do support the military," he added. "I like to think that I'm pulling my share of the load."