Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune

Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune
Onslow County, in Jacksonville, North Carolina

MCB Camp Lejeune Insignia
Coordinates 34°35′N 77°20′W / 34.583°N 77.333°W / 34.583; -77.333Coordinates: 34°35′N 77°20′W / 34.583°N 77.333°W / 34.583; -77.333
Type Military base
Site information
Controlled by United States Marine Corps
Site history
Built 1941
In use 1941–present
Garrison information
Garrison II Marine Expeditionary Force
Marine Special Operations Command

Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune [1] (/ləˈɜːrn/ lə-JURN[2]) is a 246-square-mile (640 km2)[3] United States military training facility in Jacksonville, North Carolina. The base's 14 miles (23 km) of beaches make it a major area for amphibious assault training, and its location between two deep-water ports (Wilmington and Morehead City) allows for fast deployments.

The main base is supplemented by six satellite facilities: Marine Corps Air Station New River, Camp Geiger, Stone Bay, Courthouse Bay, Camp Johnson, and the latest addition to the facility, the Greater Sandy Run Training Area.

Resident commands


Marine motor detachment, New River Barracks, 1942

In April 1941, construction was approved on an 11,000-acre (45 km2) tract in Onslow County, North Carolina. On May 1 of that year, Lt. Col. William P. T. Hill began construction on Marine Barracks New River. The first base headquarters was in a summer cottage on Montford Point, and then moved to Hadnot Point in 1942. Later that year it was renamed in honor of the 13th Commandant of the Marine Corps, John A. Lejeune.

One of the satellite facilities of Camp Lejeune served for a while as a third boot camp for the Marines, in addition to Parris Island and San Diego. That facility, Montford Point, was established after Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 8802. Between 1942 and 1949, a brief era of segregated training for black Marines, the camp at Montford Point trained 20,000 African-Americans. After the military was ordered to fully integrate, Montford Point was renamed Camp Gilbert H. Johnson and became the home of the Marine Corps Combat Service Support Schools.

American Indian Women Reservists at Camp Lejeune during 1943
Betty Grable at the New River, 1942

MCB Camp Lejeune, can help to prepare warfighters for combat and humanitarian missions abroad, Camp Lejeune takes advantage of 156,000 acres, 11 miles of beach capable of supporting amphibious operations, 32 gun positions, 48 tactical landing zones, three state-of-the-art training facilities for Military Operations in Urban Terrain and 80 live fire ranges to include the Greater Sandy Run Training Area. Military forces from around the world come to Camp Lejeune on a regular basis for bilateral and NATO-sponsored exercises.

Royal Bermuda Regiment soldiers board a USMC CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter at Camp Lejeune, 1994
Marines stationed at Camp Lejeune, 2008
Barack Obama at Camp Lejeune, 2009

Camp Lejeune was featured in the hit CW network drama One Tree Hill in late 2006.


For more details on this topic, see Camp Lejeune water contamination.

From at least 1957 through 1987, Marines and their families at Lejeune drank and bathed in water contaminated with toxins at concentrations 240 to 3400 times permitted by safety standards, and at least 850 former residents filed claims for nearly $4 billion from the military. The main chemicals involved were trichloroethylene (TCE), a degreaser, perchloroethylene (PCE), a dry cleaning solvent, and benzene; however, more than 70 chemicals have been identified as contaminants at Lejeune.[4]

A 1974 base order required safe disposal of solvents and warned that improper handling could cause drinking water contamination. Yet solvents were dumped or buried near base wells for years.[5]

The base's wells were shut off in the mid-1980s, but were placed back online in violation of the law.[4] In 1982, Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were found to be in Camp Lejeune's drinking water supply.[6] VOC contamination of groundwater can cause birth defects and other ill health effects in pregnant and nursing mothers. This information was not made public for nearly two decades when the government attempted to identify those who may have been exposed.

An advocacy group called The Few, The Proud, The Forgotten was created to inform possible victims of the contamination at Lejeune. The group's website includes an introduction with some basic information about the contamination at Lejeune, including that many health problems various types of cancer, leukemia, miscarriages and birth defects, have been noted in people who drank the contaminated water. According to the site, numerous base housing areas were affected by the contamination, including Tarawa Terrace, Midway Park, Berkeley Manor, Paradise Point, Hadnot Point, Hospital Point, and Watkins Village.[7]

On March 8, 2010, Paul Buckley of Hanover, Massachusetts, received a 100%, service connected disability from the Department of Veterans Affairs for cancer (Multiple Myeloma), which was linked to toxic water exposure on Camp Lejeune. This is believed to be the first time the government has admitted the link between the contamination and illnesses.[8]

In 2007, Jerry Ensminger, a retired Marine master sergeant, found a document dated 1981 that described a radioactive dump site near a rifle range at the camp. According to the report, the waste was laced with strontium-90, an isotope known to cause cancer and leukemia.[4] According to Camp Lejeune's installation restoration program manager, base officials learned in 2004 about the 1981 document.[4] Ensminger served in the Marine Corps for 24 and a half years, and lived for part of that time at Camp Lejeune. In 1985 his 9-year-old daughter, Janey, died of cancer.[4]

On July 6, 2009, Laura Jones filed suit against the US government over the contaminated water at the base. Jones previously lived at the base where her husband, a Marine, was stationed. Jones has lymphoma and now lives in Iowa.[9]

Twenty former residents of Camp Lejeune—all men who lived there during the 1960s and the 1980s—have been diagnosed with breast cancer.[10]

In April 2009, the United States Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry withdrew a 1997 public health assessment at Camp Lejeune that denied any connection between the toxins and illness.[11]

As many as 500,000 people may have been exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune over a period of 30 years."[10]

Janey Ensminger Act

On 18 July 2012 the US Senate passed a bill, called the Janey Ensminger Act in honor of retired Marine Master Sargeant Jerry Ensminger's daughter Janey who died of cancer at age 9, authorizing medical care to military and family members who had resided at the base between 1957 and 1987 and developed conditions linked to the water contamination. The measure applies to up to 750,000 people.[12] The House approved the bill on 31 July 2012.[13] President Obama signed the bill into law on 6 August 2012.[14]

The bill applies to 15 specific ailments believed to be linked to the contamination, including cancer of the esophagus, lung, breast, bladder or kidney; leukemia; multiple myeloma; myleodysplasic syndromes; renal toxicity; hepatic steatosis; female infertility; miscarriage; scleroderma; and/or neurobehavioral effects or non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The Department of Veterans Affairs is assigned by the bill to provide the medical care. To fund the medical care, the bill extends higher fees for VA home loan guarantees to 1 October 2017.[15]

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June 2014 potentially curbs groundwater contamination lawsuits by families at Camp Lejeune.[16] Federal law, which imposes a two-year statute of limitations after the harm is discovered, would pre-empt North Carolina’s 10-year “statute of repose” law. State law makers are trying to eliminate the state prohibition on lawsuits being filed 10 years after the last pollution occurred or from the time a polluted property was sold.[16]

Marine Corps Brig

The military prison at Camp Lejeune has been in operation since 1968 and currently has a maximum capacity of 280 inmates who are incarcerated between 30 and 90 days.

The Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) recommended in 2005 that the brig be closed and the Secretary of Defense has to implement the commission's recommendations by a date still unknown. A new brig was built at Camp Allen in Norfolk, Virginia with a small detention facility built at Camp Lejeune to hold detainees awaiting court martial. A new Brig was constructed at Camp Lejeune finishing in the early fall of 2012. The old brig was decommissioned and demolished in the late fall of 2012.

See also


This article incorporates text in the public domain from the United States Marine Corps.
  1. Pronouncing The 'R' In Camp Lejeune "One of the Marine Corps' biggest bases is Camp Lejeune (luh-JUNE) in Jacksonville, North Carolina. But for years, many people have been mispronouncing the base's name. The family of Lt. Gen. John Lejeune, whom the base was named for, says luh-JERN. Now there's quiet move the military to correct the pronunciation."
  2. Lejeune, Lejern, and How to Say It - Leatherneck Magazine
  3. "Camp Lejeune History". Lejeune. United States. Retrieved 2007-10-01.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 Thompson, Estes (2007-07-10). "EPA investigating whether radioactive waste was buried at pollution-plagued Camp Lejeune". ABC News, Associated Press. Retrieved 2007-09-29.
  5. Camp Lejeune residents blame rare cancer cluster on the water For three decades, dry-cleaning chemicals and industrial solvents laced the water used by local Marines and their families. Mike Partain and at least 19 others developed male breast cancer.
  6. Coverage of what happened at Camp Lejeune
  7. The Few, The Proud, The Forgotten. 2008-02-04. Access date 2008-02-06
  8. Sawyer, Diane, and Steve Osunsami, "Toxic Water", ABC World News, March 19, 2010.
  9. Contaminated Water At Base Spurs Suit July 7, 2009
  10. 1 2 Male breast cancer patients blame water at Marine base
  11. ATSDR Withdraws Scientifically Flawed Public Health Document
  12. Ordonez, Franco, (McClatchy), "Senate Passes Lejeune Water-Contamination Bill", Raleigh News & Observer, 19 July 2012
  13. Ordonez, Franco, "Congress Helps Camp Lejeune Families Hurt By Tainted Water", McClatchy, 1 August 2012
  14. Ordonez, Franco, and Barbara Barrett, (McClatchy), "Obama Signs Law Giving Health Care To Lejeune Tainted-Water Victims", Raleigh News & Observer, 7 August 2012
  15. Philpott, Tom, "'First step of justice' for ailing Camp Lejeune vets, families", Stars and Stripes, 9 August 2012
  16. 1 2 Jarvis, Craig (June 14, 2014). "Lawmakers rush bill to protect Lejeune, Asheville residents in pollution cases". Charlotte News & Observer (NC). Retrieved 18 June 2014.
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