TW: Have you been doing much shooting lately?
I’m getting more involved in high-power rifle shooting. I really love it. It upsets me that people feel that guns kill. Do ink pens misspell? I teach my children how to handle and be safe around firearms. They’re killing the shooting sports! Folks don’t realize how exhilarating it is to lie down on the 1,000- or 600-yard line, and shoot at a little 20-inch bull’s-eye target. I’m going to Wisconsin at the end of this month to a shooting match. I’m looking forward to that. Last week I shot at Camp Pendleton. The week before I shot at Coalinga, California, where they shoot the State Championships. I’ve been really getting involved and it’s just an amazing sport. We need to revive this sport, we need to get more people interested, active and involved.
TW: Which rifles and calibers and at what ranges have you been shooting?
The category that I shoot in is Service Rifle. I’ve been shooting the M14, and at Wisconsin I’ll be shooting the M1 Garand. We use match-conditioned ammo. But the rifle must be OTS (off the shelf). Everybody has the same chance. And I see some really amazing shooting. We shoot from the 200-, 300- and 600-yard lines, and in some cases the 1,000. All open sights, no optics! My objective in the next few years is to get people active and interested in the sport. It used to be a huge sport in America, but now with all the anti-gun people…they’ve all but destroyed the sport. Too bad.
TW: How about pistol shooting? And can you shoot better now than when you were in the Marines?
I can tell you that I wear out targets! I take my boys along, we shoot all the time. But as for shooting better now… you settle down. You get to the point where you’re not in a hurry, and I’m much more serious about it. I would say, I’m as good as I ever was, and getting better. I’m no match for the masters, but I love the competition and the camaraderie.
TW: Recently, General Petraeus was on Capitol Hill being grilled by Congress on the status of the war in Iraq, where he is leading our forces. What are your thoughts on the questions folks were asking him and the situation on the whole?
I was so disgusted. These are a bunch of people who have never been in the military, who know nothing about conflict. They’re like spoiled children. The ones on the Left are haters. The ones on the Right seem to me that they would like to try to work together, but how can you work with stupidity? The general was outstanding. Questioning him was Chuck Schumer. If he wasn’t in politics, he’d be a gangster. Everything that comes from the Right has to be wrong (according to Schumer). And Nancy Pelosi? I have zero respect for her as well. They expected the general to tell them all the secrets. And it’s a broadcast, of course. Al Qaeda members just love that. Some people on the Left seem ignorant of the fact that they’re doing everything they can to inadvertently help Al Qaeda. You can’t give up your secrets. You can’t tell Congress your secrets, unless it’s in a closed session. And they expected him to just come right out and tell them all the secret plans. Well, that’s no way to fight a war. These are the same kind of idiots that caused us to lose the Vietnam War.
TW: Now it’s obvious that we’ve got Iran creating as much mischief as they can in Iraq, supplying insurgents with weapons. Do you agree?
Yes, and I think Hillary Clinton was right in what she said. She’d blow them off the face of the map!
TW: Hillary Clinton said that if Iran ever attacked Israel, we had the power to annihilate the country. I was surprised that the furor over the comment died down so quickly. I thought there would be continuing attention about that remark, didn’t you?
No. If you’re on the Left and say that, it’s OK. If McCain had said that, it would still be headlines today. He said we may have troops in Iraq and Afghanistan 100 years from now. They take little tidbits like that, and they add to them. He was pointing out that we’ve had troops in Korea since 1950, and places like that all over the world. The Left twisted it to mean we’d be fighting the war for 100 years. That’s the way they spin their yarn. We need to start showing General Petraeus a little respect, because. He’s over there in the thick of things, he’s making things happen. He and the troops are winning the war. Chuck Schumer wants us to lose this war so bad. And we’re not! And it breaks his heart. I think they need to give the troops who are fighting the war a little due respect.
TW: Barack Obama wants to pull out of Iraq now. Your thoughts?
The only thing I have against Obama so far is that he thinks we can just quit and run away, pull out and abandon those people after all we’ve promised. I’m sure he’s intelligent enough to realize that if we did so, terrible blood baths would follow. Anybody that’s ever had any contact with the Americans will be slaughtered along with their families. I don’t know where his head is on this. Withdraw. No problem—or so he thinks!
TW: In Afghanistan, it seems more troops are needed. Outgoing Marine General Dan McNeill said we need three brigades, two for combat and one for training. They’re needed in southern Afghanistan. Your take?
The Hindu Kush Mountains. That’s where we had them cornered—Bin Laden and his crazys. Schumer, Pelosi and Reed can’t figure out why we just didn’t go up there and get ’em while we had ’em cornered. Well, I’ve been there! Those mountains are like the Swiss Alps. They are huge and rugged! It would be impossible to go up and get anybody out of there. We would lose thousands of troops. It’s awesome terrain. And as far as us going up and getting Bin Laden…anybody who says that, as far as I’m concerned, is a bona-fide, certified idiot. The Taliban have been operating out of those mountains for years. They run up and down them like mountain goats.
TW: The Marines have had some tough fights there lately. Correct?
They have. And the only way they can overcome it is to call in air support. It’s the only way in that mountainous terrain. The Taliban spends money there…the Taliban treats the villagers right…and so the villagers support them. The only way that war is ever going to be won there is through intelligence. We’re gonna have to hire local people, train them, and infiltrate them into the local struggle. That’s how to win there.
TW: On another subject, did you see the barracks stories?
The photographs of the Army barracks with the toilets jamming and flooding? Can you imagine a Marine barracks being in shape like that, ever? Absolutely not! It happened at Walter Reed Hospital too, didn’t it, just a few years ago? The Army’s getting into a lot of trouble these days, aren’t they? The Marines have what is called “The Police Sergeant.” The Police Sergeant takes care of all the maintenance on the base. And he receives people from all the different units every day, to make sure that the base is squared away, clean, and that maintenance is properly done. I don’t know what happened to the Army. It’s a little more difficult nowadays, though. Back in my time we lived in barracks which were wide-open squad bays. And you’d find a whole platoon of people, about 75 men, living in that barracks with one big bathroom with toilets and showers. So you got a shower head that’s broken, you report it, and the Police Sergeant comes down with his crew, and you’re good to go. Now, I guess, each one of these rooms has a head, a bathroom, so it’s more like a hotel. So the responsibilities of that Police Sergeant have gotten overwhelming.
TW: While poking around your site, I was surprised to find controversy still going on the 5.56mm round. Some say it’s wimpy. Will the ammo change?
That’s the M16 round, and I don’t think we’ll change. My thoughts were when we went to that 5.56 is that’s it’s only a little bit bigger than the .22…it’s a little, bitty thing. But if you kill a man, you just take one man out of the battle. If you wound a man, you take three men out of the fight. The wounded man and the two people that help to carry him back to the rear. So that’s the objective—take three people out of combat instead of only one. And it works! Plus you can carry 10 times as much ammo! Now, the old M1 Garand. You carry 100 rounds of ammo, and you’ve got a load! You can carry a couple of hundred of 5.56mm rounds!
TW: A recent announcement said, “New Joint Chiefs of Staff Team Evaluates Wounded Warrior Programs.” Are we doing enough for our Wounded Warriors?
You know, the military never has done very much for their wounded warriors. It’s always been outside civilian organizations that have taken the ball and run with it. Like the VFW, the American Legion, the Marine Corps League…things of that nature. Now there is an organization called “Wounded Warrior Project” and they generate support—like doing celebrity golf tournaments—they do anything to generate funds to help wounded veterans. And they’re doing a good job of it. And there are others. The guys who got out of the military 20 years ago are looking after the guys coming out of the military today. I really don’t see the government doing much for wounded warriors—with the exception of the VA hospitals, which are second to none. They’re great!
TW: What about the Unmet Needs program?
That’s to benefit the families of the troops fighting the war right now. We need to look after those families. That’s what the VFW’s Unmet Needs program does. The web site is www.Unmetneeds.com. I hope folks will go there and see how they can help. The military doesn’t make a lot of money, you know. They make a little money and they make it stretch a long way.
TW: We’re interested in having you talk directly to young adults who might be reading this at a time when they don’t quite know what to do with their lives. Tell them about the Marines and why they ought to join up.
I recommend any branch of the military because I’m sitting here telling you what it did for me. It picked me up out of the gutter and turned me into an honorable, successful person. I like to tell young people that I can’t think of a better way to start a resume. Give the military four years of your time, and when you get out and want to go on to other things, your resume is going to the top of the heap. You’ll have four years in the military and an honorable discharge, I can’t think of a better way to kick-start a young person’s life.
TW: Thank you, Gunny. Semper Fi!
For all kinds of Gunny memorabilia and DVDs, including DVDs, including “Full Metal Jacket” and “Mail Call” episodes, check out the Gunny Digital Px at px.rleeermey.com.