Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune

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Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune
Near Jacksonville, North Carolina in the United States
'Masters of the Iron Horse' train at SR-10 131002-M-BW898-005.jpg
A M1A1 Abrams main battle tank with 2nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune during 2013
Seal of MCB Camp Lejeune.png
MCB Camp Lejeune is located in the United States
MCB Camp Lejeune
MCB Camp Lejeune
Location in the United States
Coordinates34°35′00.9″N 77°21′37.4″W / 34.583583°N 77.360389°W / 34.583583; -77.360389Coordinates: 34°35′00.9″N 77°21′37.4″W / 34.583583°N 77.360389°W / 34.583583; -77.360389
TypeMarine Corps base
Site information
OwnerDepartment of Defense
OperatorUS Marine Corps
Controlled byMarine Corps Installations East
ConditionOperational
WebsiteOfficial website
Site history
Built1941 (1941)
In use1941 – present
Events
Garrison information
Current
commander
Brigadier General Andrew M. Niebel
Garrison

Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune[1] (/ləˈʒɜːrn/)[2] is a 246-square-mile (640 km2)[3] United States military training facility in Jacksonville, North Carolina. Its 14 miles (23 km) of beaches make the base 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 Greater Sandy Run Training Area. The Marine Corps port facility is in Beaufort, at the southern tip of Radio Island (between the NC State Port in Morehead City, and the marine science laboratories on Pivers Island in Beaufort). It is military property but is only occupied during military port operations.

Facilities[edit]

Camp Lejeune encompasses 156,000 acres, with 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.

Resident commands at Camp Lejeune include:

History[edit]

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
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
Royal Bermuda Regiment soldier with an L85A2 at USMC Camp Lejeune in 2018

On May 10, 1996, two helicopters performing a joint U.S-British training exercise collided and crashed into a swampy wooded area, killing fourteen and injuring two.

In mid-September 2018, Hurricane Florence damaged IT systems and dozens of buildings in the camp, leading to a $3.6 billion repair cost. 70% of base housing was damaged and 84,000 gallons of sewage was released.[4][5]

Drinking water contamination[edit]

From at least 1957 through 1987, Marines and their families at Lejeune drank and bathed in water contaminated with toxins at concentrations 240 to 3,400 times permitted by safety standards. 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.[6] The base's wells were shut off in the mid-1980s but were placed back online in violation of the law.[7] In 1982, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were found in Camp Lejeune's drinking water supply.[8] 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.[9] As many as 500,000 people may have been exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune over a period of 30 years."[10]

Litigation[edit]

At least 850 former residents filed claims for nearly $4 billion from the military. The multi-district litigation was dismissed on North Carolina statute of repose grounds on December 5, 2016, and the appeal to the 11th Circuit is ongoing (Straw, et. al. v. United States, 16-17573). A U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June 2014 potentially curbs groundwater contamination lawsuits by families at Camp Lejeune.[11] Federal law, which imposes a two-year statute of limitations after the harm is discovered, preempts North Carolina's 10-year statute of repose law. State lawmakers 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.[11]

Straw has appealed this case to the U.S. Supreme Court twice, with one appeal currently pending in the Supreme Court docket. Disability activist Andrew U. D. Straw also pursued claims at the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, stating that the U.S. Marine Corps' UCMJ responsibilities imply a contract to protect U.S. Marine Corps family members (Straw v. United States, 1:17-cv-00560, U.S. COFC). This case was dismissed and denied on appeal. Straw has advocated for legislative reform to avoid the legal arguments of the Department of Justice.[12] 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.[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.[13]

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.[7] According to Camp Lejeune's installation restoration program manager, base officials learned about the document in 2004.[7] 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.[7]

On July 6, 2009, Laura Jones filed suit against the U.S. government over the contaminated water at the base. Jones previously lived at the base where her husband, a Marine, was stationed, and she has since been diagnosed with lymphoma.[14] Twenty former residents of Camp Lejeune—all men who lived there during the 1960s and the 1980s—have been diagnosed with breast cancer.[15] 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.[16]

Janey Ensminger Act[edit]

In July 2012, the U.S. Senate passed a bill, called the Janey Ensminger Act in honor of retired Marine Master Sergeant 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.[17][18] The measure applies to up to 750,000 people.[19] 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 to provide the medical care. To fund the medical care, the bill extended higher fees for VA home loan guarantees through 2017.[20]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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. Archived from the original on 2012-10-14. Retrieved 2007-10-01.
  4. ^ Snow, Shawn (December 12, 2018). "$3.6 billion price tag to rebuild Lejeune buildings damaged by Hurricane Florence". Marine Corps Times. Retrieved August 10, 2021.
  5. ^ Jowers, Karen (September 25, 2018). "Hurricane Florence blamed for 84,000-gallon sewage spill on Camp Lejeune". Marine Corps Times. Retrieved August 10, 2021.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ a b c d e 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.
  8. ^ Coverage of what happened at Camp Lejeune
  9. ^ The Few, The Proud, The Forgotten. 2008-02-04. Access date 2008-02-06
  10. ^ Male breast cancer patients blame water at Marine base
  11. ^ a b Jarvis, Craig (June 14, 2014). "Lawmakers rush bill to protect Lejeune, Asheville residents in pollution cases". Charlotte News & Observer (NC). Retrieved 18 June 2014.
  12. ^ "E. Texas man seeks congressional help for illness caused by toxic water". KLTV. KLTV. January 27, 2015. Archived from the original on 2021-11-18. Retrieved May 17, 2017.
  13. ^ Sawyer, Diane, and Steve Osunsami, "Toxic Water", ABC World News, March 19, 2010.
  14. ^ Contaminated Water At Base Spurs Suit July 7, 2009
  15. ^ Male breast cancer patients blame water at Marine base
  16. ^ ATSDR Withdraws Scientifically Flawed Public Health Document
  17. ^ Ordonez, Franco, "Congress Helps Camp Lejeune Families Hurt By Tainted Water", McClatchy, 1 August 2012
  18. ^ Ordonez, Franco, and Barbara Barrett, (McClatchy), "Obama Signs Law Giving Health Care To Lejeune Tainted-Water Victims", Raleigh News & Observer, 7 August 2012
  19. ^ Ordonez, Franco, (McClatchy), "Senate Passes Lejeune Water-Contamination Bill", Raleigh News & Observer, 19 July 2012
  20. ^ Philpott, Tom, "'First step of justice' for ailing Camp Lejeune vets, families", Stars and Stripes, 9 August 2012

External links[edit]