R. Lee Ermey, Marine Icon and Actor In Full Metal Jacket, Dies Following Battle With Pneumonia

R. Lee Ermey was medically retired from the Marine Corps in 1971 after 11 years of service. He served in Vietnam and Okinawa, but he is best known for his stint as a drill instructor at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego from 1965 to 1967. It was this role that he would famously reprise in Stanley Kubrick's 1987 movie Full Metal Jacket. The abusive, vulgar and belittling barrage that he unleashed on a group of terrified military recruits, opened the movie and doors to a future in acting. He earned a Golden Globe nomination for this believable and memorable portrayal of ruthless aggression and contempt. 
 
He was perfectly suited to the role of domineering drill instructor, but it was not the first time he had a prominent role in a major motion picture. Ermey took advantage of his G.I. Bill benefits to study drama in the Philippines at the University of Manilla. In a remarkable confluence of events, Francis Ford Coppola was filming “Apocalypse Now” in the area and Ermey managed to land a feature role as a helicopter pilot. According to his biography on his website, he also served as a military adviser for the 1979 film.

On the set of Full Metal Jacket, Kubrick initially envisioned Ermey as a technical assistant and adviser. He was tasked with helping the actor who was assigned to play the drill instructor, but it quickly became clear Ermey was the only man for the job. He was given the role and virtual autonomy, something nearly unheard of in a Kubrick film. Ermey wrote every last inventive and profane line of his own dialogue. 

Nicknamed “Gunny,” Ermey received an honorary promotion to the rank of gunnery sergeant in 2002 and continued to work in the entertainment industry until his death April 15, 2018, at age 74. He voiced children’s cartoons, appeared in satirical comedies and hosted History Channel features. Invariably thrust in martial roles, he loved being in front of the camera, and his authenticity clearly resonated with a wide range of audiences. 

Initial reports are that Ermey died of pneumonia. This condition is the fourth leading cause of mortality among seniors — 90 percent of all pneumonia deaths occur in the older population. There are several reasons why seniors become more prone to pneumonia than younger populations. One is that they often suffer from debilitating and life-threatening conditions, such as heart disease, which make them more vulnerable to the infection.

Elderly people also typically have poor immune system response, so their bodies do not tolerate infections as well as before. Pneumonia in seniors is often asymptomatic, a result of their weakened immune response. For example, young people may develop and cough up sputum (mucus and saliva) when they have pneumonia — an unpleasant but healthy response, as it means the body is working naturally to clear up the lungs.

But the elderly tend to lose lung capacity as they age, making it difficult for them to cough productively. This causes the sputum to build up instead of being expelled. What’s more, elderly people are used to feeling sick more often, making them less likely to feel the symptoms of pneumonia.

Pneumonia in the elderly should not be taken lightly because, again, it is deadly. In fact, the medical community considers it as severe as a heart attack. Treating pneumonia in elderly people is also tricky, as conventional medications (which are already riddled with side effects) for this illness can be difficult to administer, as the kidney and the liver’s ability to metabolize medications changes with age.

The treatments and remedies for pneumonia vary depending on the type, as well as the severity of the disease. The standard medical treatment for pneumonia involves prescribed medications and, in some cases, chest X-rays to determine if the disease was successfully suppressed. Bacterial pneumonia patients are usually prescribed antibiotics to eliminate the bacteria strain that caused the illness. Antibiotics are also used to treat aspiration pneumonia, but this really depends on the severity of the illness and the health of the person prior to having the disease.

In many instances. corticosteroids or anti-inflammatory medications such as prednisone or methylprednisolone are prescribed to the patient. Antibiotics are also used to treat aspiration pneumonia, but this really depends on the severity of the illness and the health of the person prior to having the disease.

A bronchoscopy may be performed to remove the pneumonia-causing object. The procedure entails the use of a tube to look into your lungs' airways. Unlike these first three types of pneumonia, viral pneumonia patients don't need to take antibiotics, given that the main cause of the illness is a virus and not a bacteria strain. Instead, antiviral drugs are prescribed. 
Antifungal medications in oral or intravenous form are given to patients with fungal pneumonia. These medications, which include first-, second-, and third-generation triazoles and echinocandins, should be chosen based on the particular pathogen that is inaccessible or is said to cause the pneumonia. 

Some of you may wonder why antibiotics are being recommended for pneumonia treatment, especially if you've taken note of the potential dangers of using antibiotics to treat illnesses. Antibiotics eliminate beneficial bacteria residing in your gut, resulting in a domino effect. These include negative changes in the gut microbiome, higher levels of leptin and ghrelin (hunger hormones) and body mass index (BMI), and even obesity. 

Alternative methods of treatment also exist and rely on the best of what Mother Nature has to offer. There are a variety of herbs and plants that are able to do this. Some of the best homemade and natural remedies for pneumonia include: holy basil, garlic, ginger, fenugreek tea, goldenseal and Echinacea. Oregano, tea tree and eucalyptus are three essential oils that are often relied upon for their antibacterial and antifungal properties.