Toy Soldiers, and my time with R. Lee Ermey

Louis Gossett Jr. and R. Lee Ermey

On this TBT I wanted to share some fond memories of my time working on Toy Soldiers.

Over the close to 30 years since the making of Toy Soldiers, I have been happy to run in to various alumni of the film, and happier yet, to see the progress they have made and continue to make in their respective careers.

The thoughts I will share with you here, and now, have to do with my interaction, off the set, with R. Lee Ermey, the iconic leatherneck, in fact and in persona.

I remember a night when I heard the reason we had changed the shooting schedule to accommodate unforeseen circumstances. These circumstances required Mr. Ermey to come in early in order to shoot his scenes with and around the HRT guys out of Quantico-that’s right, the real HRT guys were brought in to give the story a realness and a grounding that holds up to this very day.

It turns out that Mr. Ermey knew something about these guys’ immediate fate and broke a rule of his, which was to keep to himself for the majority of the shoot until he made sure that all of his acting work was in the can.

On this particular night, I was enjoying a beer in the hotel bar with a few of Luis Cali’s henchmen and more than a few of the HRT guys, Mr. Ermey walked in and he may as well have been a god descending from Mount Olympus with the deference he was immediately shown.

He could not have been more genuine or affable toward me, and I truly felt awed by this stalwart and humble human.

As the night went on, it became clear to me why Mr. Ermey had taken the time out of his private schedule to sit with the HRT boys, although, as I mentioned, he could not have been more gracious toward me, his reason for being there was all about the lads from Quantico.

As it turns out, they would all be deployed in the following days to Iraq on a mission called “Desert Storm”.

As the night waned, most of the bar had emptied out, except for Mr. Ermey, the Quantico Kids and me.

Every now and then I get out of my self centered nature and realize how truly lucky I am…that night I was lucky enough to meet Mr. Ermey and many of the great lads who were the non plus ultra of their platoons.