It is said that the rank of Gunnery Sergeant is the most influential rank in the Marine Corps. I am reminded of the opening lines of Stanley Kubrick's film Full Metal Jacket, "I am Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, your Senior Drill Instructor. From now on, you will speak only when spoken to, and the first and last words out of your filthy sewers will be "Sir." Do you maggots understand that?" Gunnery sergeants are respected for their honored hands-on approach to molding marines within the Corps. But what happens to gunnery sergeants when they become master sergeants is a transformation from the bright lights of glorious troop involvement to a somewhat dimmer staff position. Both gunnery sergeants and master sergeants show up each day seeking successful accomplishments with the same troops under them and the same leadership over them; however, they have completely different roles and responsibilities.
In the movies and the real Marine Corps everyone is focused on the one affectionately known as the "Gunny." The film Heartbreak Ridge hit the mark on the Marine Corps" Gunnery Sergeant when Clint Eastwood played Gunnery Sergeant Tom Highway who was a combat-hardened war veteran on his last tour of duty. The gunnies are the technical, tactical, logistical and personnel experts in their units and they make things happen. Gunnies are the most senior of the enlisted ranks that have daily and direct contact with the younger, less experienced marines. By example, gunnies formally train marines in their military occupational specialties (MOS); additionally, gunnies informally pass on years of knowledge and experience to their junior marines; thereby, making them mature and influential for the next generation. It seems like gunnies are busy twenty four hours a day being the babysitters of "problem children" and cheerleaders of "go-getters" by day, and by night they are personal problem solvers and marriage counselors to indebt and inept young couples.