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Mail Call host visits Hurlburt Field

R. Lee Ermey, host of the "Mail Call" military technology show, watches the effects of a molotov cocktail thrown by Lt. Col. Gary Reynolds, Air Force Special Operations School instructor, during a weapons demonstration at Hurlburt Field, Fla. "Gunny" Ermey toured the school during his visit for an upcoming episode of the show focusing on Air Force Special Operations Command. Gunny Ermey, a retired Marine, is known for his role as a tough-as-nails drill instructor in the film "Full Metal Jacket." (U.S. Air Force photo/Chief Master Sgt. Gary Emery)

R. Lee Ermey, host of the "Mail Call" military technology show, watches the effects of a molotov cocktail thrown by Lt. Col. Gary Reynolds, Air Force Special Operations School instructor, during a weapons demonstration at Hurlburt Field, Fla. "Gunny" Ermey toured the school during his visit for an upcoming episode of the show focusing on Air Force Special Operations Command. Gunny Ermey, a retired Marine, is known for his role as a tough-as-nails drill instructor in the film "Full Metal Jacket." (U.S. Air Force photo/Chief Master Sgt. Gary Emery)

R. Lee Ermey, host of the "Mail Call" military technology show, watches as Special Tactics Officer selection course candidates read their next challenge during the "Monster Mash," a grueling exercise that tests a canadidate's physical and mental toughness at Hurlburt Field, Fla., Monday, March 20, 2006. "Gunny" Ermey was at Hurlburt to film an upcoming episode of the show focusing on Air Force Special Operations Command. He is known for his role as a tough-as-nails drill instructor in the film "Full Metal Jacket." (U.S. Air Force photo/Chief Master Sgt. Gary Emery)

R. Lee Ermey, host of the "Mail Call" military technology show, watches as Special Tactics Officer selection course candidates read their next challenge during the "Monster Mash," a grueling exercise that tests a canadidate's physical and mental toughness at Hurlburt Field, Fla., Monday, March 20, 2006. "Gunny" Ermey was at Hurlburt to film an upcoming episode of the show focusing on Air Force Special Operations Command. He is known for his role as a tough-as-nails drill instructor in the film "Full Metal Jacket." (U.S. Air Force photo/Chief Master Sgt. Gary Emery)

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- "I wanna be on something that shoots," said retired U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. R. Lee Ermey.

That's exactly what the host of the cable television show "'Mail Call" got when he and his crew spent two days at Hurlburt Field filming for an upcoming show.
Best known for movie roles such as the hard-as-nails basic training drill instructor in "Full Metal Jacket," Mr. Ermey attracted a crowd wherever he and the film crew went.

During the visit Mr. Ermey ate lunch with the troops, posed for photos and shook as many hands as were extended to him without turning down a single person.

The Airmen of the 16th Special Operations Squadron got a kick out of having a bona fide movie star in their midst as he strapped in for a flight on an AC-130H gunship.

"This is great having him here and it's a great morale boost for the troops," said Maj. Mike Arnold, 16th Special Operations Squadron.

"I've always had a lot of respect for the Air Force, but I have a much better understanding of the Spectre now and what goes on while it's in flight," said Mr. Ermey.

Mr. Ermey kicked off his visit here with an early morning jog to catch up with special tactics officer selection course candidates running the “Monster Mash,” a grueling exercise that tested their physical and mental toughness. The STO selection, which drives candidates to the extreme of exhaustion, really impressed him.

“They don’t call it “Hell Week” for nothing,” he said. “The Army Rangers and the Green Berets may get all the glory but the USAF Special Tactics gets it done!”

Mr. Ermey began his day Tuesday by sneaking into the Middle Eastern Orientation Class at the USAF Special Operations School. After sitting in on the class, the cadre of the Dynamics in Terrorism course escorted Mr. Ermey to the range where they demonstrated vehicle search techniques and gave a briefing on weapons used by terrorists around the world. 

Mr. Ermey was even offered the opportunity to add two new weapons to his list of weapons fired, the Israeli Galil and the Styer-aug. He also prepared what he called “50 caliber fruit salad” by disintegrating a watermelon with a Barrett rifle used by explosive ordnance disposal technicians to destroy unexploded ordnance on the battlefield.

"This is great stuff," said Mr. Ermey. "Here at Hurlburt you can really see how the services are working together."

During the visit Monday and Tuesday, he told stories from his days in the Corps.

"Back in my days, if you were on the ground with a rifle you couldn't always talk to the gunship that was right overhead. Now you can do that,” he said.

"The Airmen here make such a sacrifice, being away from their families and friends and going into harms way to keep us safe,” he said. “We should all be grateful for the dedication of the Air Commandos.” 


(Capt. Elizabeth Paul, Air Force Special Operations Command Public Affairs, contributed to this article.)