For More Information Please Contact:
MAJ Eric Bloom
Task Force Phoenix
Office of Public Affairs
45th Infantry Brigade
APO AE 09356
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Story by Staff Sergeant Robert R. Ramon
Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix Public Affairs Office
Kabul, Afghanistan (April 17, 2004)“What is your major malfunction?” the gunnery sergeant yelled to the soldiers. “Do I make you nervous?”
This wasn’t a scene out of the popular cult classic war movie Full Metal Jacket, but a re-enactment as movie star R. Lee Ermey entertained the soldiers of Coalition Joint Task Force Phoenix (CJTFP) at the Afghan National Army’s (ANA) Pol-e-Charki base near Kabul recently.
Ermey, featured in several movies including Full Metal Jacket, Saving Silverman and the newest version of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, was in town to tape his show for the History Channel called Mail Call.
“I love my job,” said Ermey who has hosted the show since its inception 2 _ years ago. “It’s the best job in the world. Everyone in Hollywood wants my job but they’re too afraid to come out here on the front lines away from the main base!”
According to Ermey, Mail Call is the highest rated show on the History Channel. Based on the reaction of the soldiers watching the taping, it was easy to see why.
Ermey spotlighted various soldiers of the Oklahoma National Guard’s 45th Infantry Brigade and the weapons each specializes in.
First up was the rocket propelled grenade launcher. Ermey listened closely as Sgt. 1st Class Shayne M. Simmons, an ANA weapons trainer, explained all the details about the weapon. “Great!” said Ermey excitedly after Simmons completed his explanation. “Do you think I could fire this weapon?” “Sure!” said Simmons. “Let’s load it up!
Ermey moved into position as Simmons loaded a round. Once identifying the silhouette targets on the firing range, a burst of smoke and dirt rose into the air as Ermey pulled the trigger sending the rocket flying towards its mark. “Yeah! That’s some major firepower!” yelled Ermey. “I love it!”
After sending a few more rockets down range, Ermey tried his hand on an SPG-9, 73 millimeter Recoilless Rifle and a Russian-made ZU 23-2 Anti-Aircraft gun. He ended the taping that afternoon by riding with ANA soldiers in their T-62 tank as a crowd of soldiers watched.
Throughout the day, Ermey constantly visited soldiers during breaks from taping his show to take photographs and sign autographs.
“They are the main reason I’m here,” Ermey said of the U.S. Soldiers. “You could say this is my version of a USO tour. An official USO tour would probably only allow me to visit Soldiers on the main base; but, I’d rather be out here on the front lines with you guys!”
Soldiers laughed and applauded as Ermey entertained them while mingling through the growing crowds.
“Throughout the day, don’t hesitate to ask me questions, have me sign autographs, take pictures or whatever,” Ermey said as he signed a can of Skoal for one soldier. “Just let me know what you want and I’ll do it for you. However,” said Ermey as he raised his index finger, “I do draw the line. In the movie Saving Silverman they paid me $200,000 to kiss my fellow actor Jack Black. If all of you can come up with $200,000 amongst yourselves I’ll kiss every last one of you!” said Ermey as laughter roared through the crowd.
“This guy is unbelievable!” said Sgt. 1st Class Robert Rodriguez, an ANA Military Police Security Advisor from Mission, Texas. “The thing I’m most impressed with is the fact that he takes the time to meet the soldiers individually. He is all for the troops. It’s not all just about him.”
Ermey let the troops know just how much he appreciates the job their doing and how he plans to convey that message through his television show.
“When you watch the television back home, most news channels just want to videotape Soldiers dying and humvees burning,” Ermey told the Soldiers as several yelled out in agreement. “The Communist News Network shows absolutely nothing about the schools you’re building, the wells you’re digging, or any of the other great, positive things you’re doing here! We’re here to cover those positive things!”
Many of the soldiers seemed to appreciate that Ermey was nothing like the typical media they watch on television back home.
“I like the fact that he listens to the soldiers,” said Rodriguez. “I like that he’s different than other members of the media in that he’s not always trying to bash the president. He’s fully supportive of the troops and it brings morale up.”
CJTFP is comprised mainly of National Guard units from over 20 states, the Oklahoma National Guard's 45th Infantry Brigade Headquarters, and contingents from seven different countries. CJTFP’s mission is to train the Afghan National Army to provide a measure of stability to the country and help to prevent the re-emergence of terrorism.
“I think the soldiers of the 45th are doing an outstanding job!” said Ermey. “They’re motivated and doing great work! Their heads are in the right place and I haven’t heard a complaint from any of them.”
- SSG Robert Ramon -