PALMDALE — The effort to honor the late R. Lee Ermey, perhaps best known as “They Gunny,” the Marine Corps drill instructor he portrayed in the movie “Full Metal Jacket,” with a street named for him in the town he called home is coming to fruition.
While known to many for his iconic movie role, he also was well known for his charitable work in support of the Marine Corps, military programs, veterans and others.
Ermey, a real-life Marine drill instructor, actor, military ambassador and longtime resident of the Antelope Valley, died in April at age 74.
The grass-roots effort to ensure his legacy is remembered here was launched in May, seeking to add his name to the western stretch of Avenue N, the street closest to his home of 20 years.
“I can’t wait to see when I’m driving up the 14 (Freeway) to see the next exit is R. Lee Ermey Avenue,” said Bart Avery, a friend and business partner of Ermey’s in Lancaster’s Bravery Brewing and originator of the street naming concept.
Supporters have started a fundraising campaign to pay for the signs to identify the stretch of Avenue N between 60th Street West and Sierra Highway as R. Lee Ermey Avenue, including exit signs from the Antelope Valley Freeway.
Although the governments of the areas through which the street runs — primarily Palmdale, but also unincorporated Los Angeles County and Caltrans for the highway exits — have approved the naming, they do not have the money to pay for the signs, as well as the needed memorial plaques.
Supporters also are hoping to raise enough to create a “musical road” section of the avenue, much like the one on Avenue G in Lancaster, which would play the Marines’ Hymn when cars drive over it.
They have started a GoFundMe campaign, with a stated goal of $150,000. Information on the campaign and donations made be found online at https://www.gofundme.com/r-lee-ermey-memorial-ave.
The new moniker will be dedicated during a public ceremony Nov. 10, the birthday of Ermey’s beloved Marine Corps, at 10:45 a.m.
The ceremony will be at the terminus of R. Lee Ermey Avenue, at the northwest corner of Avenue N and Sierra Highway, a spot known to locals and aviation enthusiasts as “B.J.’s Corner,” and a prime viewing spot for aircraft taking off from Air Force Plant 42.
The event is slated to include singing of the National Anthem, posting the colors by members of the Young Marines, a flyover and remarks by dignitaries before unveiling the new street sign.
According to Palmdale city officials, guests should enter via 10th Street West and Avenue N, because the street at Avenue N and Sierra Highway will be closed.
Like earlier naming projects, such as Columbia Way (Avenue M) and Rancho Vista Boulevard (Avenue P), the Avenue N designation would remain in order to allow residents and businesses to maintain their address and avoid the additional expense.
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