Why we pronounce Camp Lejeune as Camp 'Luh-Jern'

Why we pronounce Camp Lejeune as Camp 'Luh-Jern'

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Lt. Gen. John Archer Lejeune (Luh-Jern) has been called the greatest Leatherneck of all times. He's the 13th commandant of the Marine Corps with a long list of distinguished service awards including three bronze stars.

He's so highly regarded the largest Marine Corps base in the world is named after him. According to his family members is Camp Lejeune should be pronounced "Luh-Jern."

John Lejeune is one of many descendants of General Lejeune who was born and raised in Southern Louisiana.

"The family pronounces it 'Luh-Jern' as though it has an R in it which it does not," Lejeune explained.

For many in North Carolina the base has always been called Camp "Luh-June."

"It's just kind of what I was raised up with before they actually changed it to 'Luh-Jern' back and forth," said Staff Sgt. David Nelson USMC (Ret).

The history goes way back.

World War II Veteran George Barrows remembers his drill instructors in boot camp telling him it's "Luh-Jern."

"It was originally called 'Luh-Jern' when it was here in 1942. When they made this into the camp it was called 'Luh-Jern' then and they called it that for years," Barrows said.

But at some point in time the base became known as Camp "Luh-June." Some would say it's because that's the way it looks.

"It's a matter of confusion about how to read it. People argue again there's no R in Lejeune, but there's no R in colonel and yet we pronounce it 'cur-nel' not 'Col-o-nel,'" Barrows explained.

There have been several attempts to get people to change back to calling the base Camp "Luh-Jern." WRAL News Anchor Charles Gaddy did a story on this in 1983 after meeting General Lejeune's daughter.

Then, in 2008 historian P.T. Brent and World War II Veteran George Barrows started a media blitz explaining the history and research behind General Lejeune and why the base should be called Camp "Luh-Jern."

Lt.Col. Michael Kasprzyk, USMC (Ret.) spent most of his career in the Marine Corps saying Camp "Luh- June." He says that's what he was taught. But he says Camp "Luh- Jern" now.

"It's historically correct and it's consistent with the wishes of the family, however this information needs to be taught at the point of entry for Marines such as the Marine Corps recruitment depots in San Diego, Paris Island as well as officer candidate school and the basic school in Quantico," Kasprzyk said.

So what are top commanders at Camp Lejeune doing to help this effort.

"Our leaders at every public event that they go to have pronounced it the way it is meant to be pronounced. We have held, have invited people who are experts in the pronunciation to come here and hold small groups and talk about it," said Nat Fahy, Director of public affairs Camp Lejeune.

Debbie Elliott, who lived on base and grew up saying Camp "Luh-June," says that should help,

"I think the more the family and the administrators over at Camp Lejeune continue to educate us about why we should pronounce it correctly. I think that overtime people will adapt," Elliott said.

Fahy realizes they won't change everyone's mind.

"There are people in this area that have grown up saying 'Luh- June,' and again we're not going to change everybody's mind, but on this issue but we hope people who are interested in the history of this base which is so intertwined with this community may be they'll make the effort to get it right too," Fahy said.

Once the history and correct pronunciation was explained to WECT, all the news anchors now pronounce it Camp "Luh-Jern."

"If it's done this way, then it will just fall right into place. Then that's what it will be from then on and we can sort of 'stamp out' the  'Luh-June' part," John Lejeune explained.

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