From tent stakes to townhouses

3 May 2001 | Lance Cpl. Mike Rogers

Before it was garrisoned by more than 43,000 Marines and Sailors, the Camp Lejeune area was inhabited by a small group of tobacco farmers nestled among the marshes, beachhead and coastal forests.  Six decades later, Lejeune is a bustling training ground composed of Camps Johnson and Geiger, and Courthouse Bay and Stone Bay where Marines train and prepare for worldwide deployment as America's 9-1-1 Force.

"For 60 years, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina has been pivotal to the success of the Corps," said Major Gen. Ronald G. Richard, base commanding general and Basile, La., resident.  "Not only will that continue, it will become more important as we move into the 21st century.

Home of "Expeditionary Forces in Readiness," II Marine Expeditionary Force, 2d Marine Division, 2d Force Service Support Group, Marine Corps Base and II MEF Augmentation Command Element reside among the coastal training areas of Eastern North Carolina.  Many other commands fall into the spectrum at the neighboring camps to inlcude Marine Combat Training Battalion and Infantry Training Bn. on Camp Geiger.

Formerly the original site of the base, Camp Johnson is now home to Marine Corps Combat Service Support Schools.  Other expansions such as Stone Bay and Courthouse Bay, house the marksmanship training ranges and Marine Corps Engineer School respectively.

The 22nd, 24th and 26th Marine Expeditionary Units also use the beaches and rugged terrain to become special operations capable for deployment.  This unique title earned by MEUs originated at Lejeune.

In recent years, units from Lejeune have been deployed to almost every clime and place in support of numerous conflicts, humanitarian assistance missions and training outside the borders of the continental U.S.

Many servicemembers their families, retirees and civilian employees reside in base housing and in the surrounding area. All play an important role in the operation and continued development of Camp Lejeune.

The base was awarded numerous awards and citations since its existence, more recently, Department of Defense's Installation Excellence and commendations for environmental stewardship.  Lejeune has also been recognized by various organizations for contributions to the Jacksonville area.  These community relations include 2d Marine Division's Band performances and other leathernecks who have donated their time to better the community. The annual Veteran's Day Parade at Western blvd. is a great example of the ties that bond the Marines with the local public.

In the six decades since its origin as tobacco farmland, Lejeune has shared an atmosphere of kinship with the surrounding communities and with the expeditionary forces it maintains.