The following is a Point/Counterpoint concerning the proper pronunciation of the name of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. Col. Robert Schild (Ret.), an amateur historian who served in the Marine Corps for 22 years, will be presenting the point. Joseph “Joe” Rhone, a former Marine sergeant who was stationed at Camp Lejeune from to 1978 to 1983, will be presenting the counterpoint.
POINT: In a Corps which has produced countless heroes and legends, it’s hard to find one with a greater impact than Lt. Gen. John Archer Lejeune, our 13th Commandant, peace be upon him. Maybe you’ve heard his Birthday Message, which has been read aloud by Marines every year since 1921!
When Gen. Lejeune died in 1942, the Corps honored this great figure by naming its new amphibious installation at New River, North Carolina after him. And that’s why it’s important that today we continue to honor his legacy by learning to pronounce his name correctly: Le-JERN, not Le-JUNE.
COUNTERPOINT: I have Stage IV breast cancer. The doctors think it’s from drinking the water at Camp Lejeune, which they say had all kinds of chemicals and other hazardous waste. If I’d come in earlier, they might have caught it sooner, but now I guess it’s only a matter of time.
How could this happen to me? I’m only 56! I may not be as young as I used to be, but I’m still healthy. At least I thought I was… They don’t prepare you for shit like this… goddamn it.
POINT: During the Great War, General Le-JERN became the first Marine to command an Army division in combat. As commandant, he pioneered the amphibious assault doctrine which formed the backbone of our island-hopping campaign in World War II. He even founded the Marine Corps Association.
Every day I hear young Marines on base saying things like, “Camp Le-JUNE sucks,” “Camp Le-JUNE is the worst place on earth,” “Fuck Camp Le-JUNE,” etc. I have to pull them aside and tell them they really should be saying, “Fuck Camp Le-JERN”, but they never seem to listen.
COUNTERPOINT: The DoD said they found benzene in the water at Camp Lejeune. Like, that’s shit you find in gasoline. I guess the Marine Corps knew back in the 1980s, but they covered it up. Why? And I was drinking it for all those years. My ex-wife too. Oh Christ, I wonder if that’s what caused all her miscarriages. Oh fuck! Fuck me! Holy shit!
POINT: Marines were able to pronounce the name correctly until the Vietnam War, so I guess that was yet another standard we let slip. Actually, since Le-JERN is itself a Cajun bastardization of Lejeune’s Swiss name, we really should be pronouncing it Camp Le-ZHERN or Le-ZHUN, but I guess that’s just a battle we’ll have to fight another day.
COUNTERPOINT: Cancer motherfucker! However you pronounce it, it’s fucking killing me!
POINT: You make a good argument: Le-ZHUN would be much more professional.
Duffel Blog Investigative Reporter Lee Ho Fuk also contributed to this report.