By MIKE CAST, U.S. Army Developmental Test CommandJuly 24, 2009
"I'm here to tell you, the Army really knows how to put maximum hurt on the bad guys! With the knock-out punch of the TOW missile, the gunner in the Army's Bradley Fighting Vehicle can make our enemies have a seriously bad day! I sure wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of that baby. Hoorah!!"
Okay, that might not be an exact quote, but retired Marine Corps Master Gunnery Sgt. R. Lee Ermey expressed that sentiment, if not in those words, while working with his production crew to shoot sequences of "Lock n' Load," an upcoming TV series to be aired on the History Channel.
While filming several sequences of the show at the U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Ermey rubbed elbows with testers and had fun demonstrating how a gunnery sergeant still has the magic touch by demolishing targets down range. In addition to firing various weapons on the Bradley and Stryker Mobile Gun System, Ermey also drove the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle around one of ATC's road courses to get a feel for how it handles.
Ermey and crew arrived at ATC June 8 and filmed there June 9 and 10.
The ATC sequences will include segments that show off the previously mentioned weapon systems. The show will initially feature the rifle and will air July 31 at 9 p.m. Eastern Time. It is not yet determined when repeat episodes will occur or exactly when the segments filmed at APG will be broadcast.
Known for his over-the-top portrayal of Gunnery Sgt. Hartman, an in-your-face drill instructor in Stanley Kubrick's iconic movie "Full Metal Jacket," Ermey reprised his gunnery sergeant role for the History Channel's "Mail Call." In that program, he used queries from readers to expound on a variety of military topics. One of his favorite ways to demonstrate the firepower of small-arms weapons was to blast a watermelon to smithereens. "Lock n' Load" will follow a similar format as "Mail Call," but the focus will be on modern weapons.
The volatile gunnery sergeant also appears on a DVD collection of "Mail Call" snafus, but cleaned up so the whole Family can enjoy his inimitable wit and commentary without embarrassment.
The visit was not without a glitch, but the fault was Mother Nature's. Just as the crew arrived at one of ATC's test tracks to film an MRAP driving sequence, she unzipped the slate-gray sky and dropped a torrential rain. Though it didn't dampen anyone's spirits, the deluge put a halt to the remainder of the day's shooting schedule.
While at ATC, Ermey passed out personalized coins to ATC staff, signed autographs and posed for pictures alongside anyone who asked him.
He also took time out from his busy shooting schedule to swap stories with several noncommissioned officers assigned to ATC and to shake hands with ATC staff, repeatedly expressing his gratitude for the work they perform on behalf of America's men and women in uniform.
Brian Hill, an ATC test officer and Stryker expert for the MGS segment, was excited about his opportunity of working with Ermey.
"As a fan of Gunny Ermey's for the past twenty years or so, it was a thrill to meet him and show him what we do at ATC," Hill said. "The bonus was that we all found out very quickly that he's as cool in real life as he appears on film and TV."