Taking a Leak with a Legend

Updated: May 26, 2012

Editor’s Note: In our quest to bring you the funniest shit known to the military, we stumbled across Jack Mandaville.  Jack is a Devil Dog and agreed (bribed is more like it) to let us steal some work from his blog www.gUSMCoy.com until he can write something specific for The Rhino Den.  See…we love our Marines just like everyone else! 

By RU Contributor Jack Mandaville

Marines have an eternal love affair with Full Metal Jacket.  While mainstream America may just like it, Marines have elevated this film into the top annals of cult-status.  But, why do we like it so much?  Why has this flick become a fixation with every generation of Marines (and many people in other branches)?  It certainly can’t be the question of morality in the Vietnam War; films like Platoon already delve into that topic.  I don’t think it’s the combat scenes, either; Hamburger Hill does a wonderful job of highlighting the struggles of battle.  The fact is, the second half of that film could be compared to any other war drama.  What separates FMJ from all the others is the first half of the picture—the bootcamp experience.

Not every Marine has been to ‘Nam.  Not every Marine has been a grunt.  And not every Marine has been in combat.  But we all share one thing in common (except for some Korean Vets): we went to bootcamp.  And to us—whether ours was better or worse—R. Lee Ermey (who played Senior Drill Instructor Gunnery Sergeant Hartman) is the archetypal Marine Corps drill instructor.  As a result, not only has the character reached god-like status amongst Marines, but the actor has himself.

Nobody respects this man more than brand new Marines—because our drill instructors tend to be the only real Marines we’ve ever dealt with.

Back when I was a lowly private at the School of Infantry, I happened to be relieving myself in one of the many heads (bathrooms) on the camp I was training at.  Yes, just me and my optimistic, ill-informed, and ridiculous looking self.  From out of nowhere I heard the door slam behind me.  I kept my skull down, thinking it could be some NCO who would berate for a small infraction.  I didn’t hear anything after a while, so I decided to take a peak to my right and see if it was anyone I knew.

I DID know him! It was R. Lee Ermey!

You met the President?  I don’t give a shit.

The Pope personally blessed you?  Forgive me for not caring.

You had a genuine conversation with Jesus?  That’s because you’re an undiagnosed schizoid.

None of your feeble claims to fame will ever impress me.  I was taking a piss next to Gunny Mothafuckin’ Hartman, himself.

He was taller in person than he was on-screen.  A large tattoo decorated his liver-spotted forearm.  And he reeked of saltiness and manhood—and I believe he was wearing Brute, too.

As soon as I looked at him, I couldn’t stop staring, and then the most incredible thing happened: he looked up and locked eyes with me!

I WANT YOU...To Quit Meat-Gazing!

“Hey, Devil Dog,” he said in his immortal rasp.

I had to give a reply, but I was too star struck to respond, “………………”

My mouth was dropped, my eyes were wider than Marty Feldman’s, and I was flat-out speechless from being in the presence of his greatness.

“Do you like something over here?”  He added.

I immediately shot my head back down toward my pecker, finished my business, and left the head without saying a thing… and no, I didn’t wash my hands.

Did I just leave and neglect to inform anyone of my encounter?  Fuck no!  I was telling every Marine within earshot about the man taking a piss inside our bathroom.

When the old man stepped outside, it was on like Donkey Kong!  Dozens of young Marines swarmed him like a Mongol Horde, and he was taken aback by their aggressive solicitation for autographs.




The man was a sweetheart, an absolute darling.   He signed every single piece of clothing, paper, and body part that the Marines asked of him, and he did with a king-like quality of grace.

“Alright, Marines, that’s enough.  We need to get going,” said a uniformed Master Sergeant.

I assumed he was a PAO Marine, someone that was tasked with escorting the actor around because he was filming his Mail Call show for the History Channel.

The senior Marine ordered us little peons aside and escorted the Gunny back to his van.  As the renowned actor was walking back to the vehicle, he glanced over at me—the Marine who started all of the commotion—and shot me the most epic mean muggin’ look I’ve ever seen.

You got Gunny Ermey’s autograph?   Big fuckin’ deal.  I pissed him off.  (No pun.)




  1. Marc McIntyre

    May 30, 2012 at 1:20 am

    I was in Basic Training, yes Basic Training at Ft Benning, Ga when this epic came out (1987). We had just finished Basic & were transitioning to our individual training (AIT). Watching this movie with our Drill Instructors was not as fun as months later when watching it with fellow soldiers. This film transcended the different services, although it belongs to the Marines it’s enjoyed by all services. But damm did it energize our Drill Seargents after watching this movie, what an experience.
    Thanks Gunny!!!

  2. Mike C

    May 30, 2012 at 7:49 am

    I was stationed in Quantico, Va at the MCAF (Marine Corps Air Facility)that usually hosted the Marine Expo. This is where people that have something to sell to the Marines bring their wares and do their pitch. You need a new way of stopping a vehicle laden with bombs in its tracks before it gets to the heart of the base? We have this new barrier system that will rip the whole engine out in 1.5 seconds using the vehicles own momentum. You need a helmet that is 5 times lighter than kevlar but 16 times more durable? This is where it will show up.

    I was at dispatch for the day and would occasionally have a fellow MP come in waving some kind of swag that he had picked up at such-and-such booth. The only thing I wanted was the 4 ft by 3 ft poster of a Marine DI stalking the parade ground of MCRD San Diego. One of my buddies got one for me and one for himself and had just brought it back to the office when Gunny Hartman kicked open our door, screamed at everyone to get on line and went through his entire opening speech.

    “You will not laugh. You will not cry. You will learn by the numbers. I will teach you.”

    It was truly EPIC!!! When he completed the speech he shook each of our hands, thanked us for being on duty while the “rest of the Marine Corps was shopping the Expo” and signed everything we shoved his direction, including my Marine Corps DI Poster.

    It is now framed and hung on my living room wall like the artifact that it is.

    Semper Fi Gunny!!

  3. Doc Shotgun

    May 30, 2012 at 9:59 am

    I heard a joke about a similar situation involving John Wayne…please tell me you didn’t piss on his leg?!

    • Jack Mandaville

      May 30, 2012 at 8:17 pm

      No I didn’t, Doc, but that would have made the story 10x better.

  4. Sean Miklas

    June 3, 2012 at 3:12 am

    His grand kids live in my town. So the first football game we played he was their and gave a great speech in the locker room before the game.

  5. Dennis Greathouse

    June 13, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    I went through PI in ’71. When FMJ came out, I swore that I could almost see our Platoon 190 in the background. It was exactly the same. Even after retiring 30 yrs later, I still get the chills everytime I see this movie. Semper Fi to all!

  6. MTN Ranger

    July 17, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    I forget exactly when I first saw FMJ but it had such an impact on me that I completely expected that same experience when I got to Army Infantry OSUT on FT. Benning’s Sand Hill in 1997. I was so unfortunatley dissapointed that our DS’s were so restricted from meeting his attitude adjustments because the kinder, gentler Army was in it’s beginnings and the PC monster was tightening it’s strangle hold. Not saying they were weak and not scary, but truelly expected to get choked, beaten, etc and that would’ve been ok. Three years later I was a young, firebreathing SGT Fire TEam Leader and I used to warm myself up for the upcoming afternoon (esp when the Joe’s were acting up) by watching the first half as loud as I could with my barracks room door open during lunch. That always gave my guys fair warning for that afternoon’s training ’cause I was going to be fired up aso they’d better step lively and STFU. Nine years later, there I am back on Sand Hill as a DS myself – and I was the Pitbull Drill, the meanest nastiest, loudest one. I was decidedly NOT the one the Privates wanted to approach with their issues. Now I made sure I watched FMJ before I went to Basic and most of my peers had too so I assumed that new recruits would have too. While I was Drill, I borrowed Gunny Hartman’s lines left and right, and do you know what? I can only recall one Recruit actually recognizing them. Most of them had never even heard of it when one of us Drill’s would query them on it (to busy watching Twilight or some crap I guess). I used to smoke the crap out of them at the end of the cycle for not properly preparing for Basic Training prior to departure by watching FMJ and then I’d let them watch it, at least the first part. The one guy that recognized it was a 34 yr old lawyer and he got himself smoked for not being able to contain a laugh at recognizing the line. I believe that particular line was, “What is your major malfunction numbnuts!? Did mommy and daddy not love you enough!?” And there were some other gems that I won’t throw out on here as I’m still in and they weren’t PC and sensitive. What is America coming to when not only do our future Soldiers not watch this epic movie, but most have never heard of it?

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