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Feb-26-2012 14:36printcomments

USMC Responds to MSNBC's 'Semper Fi: Always Faithful'

Marine Corps called onto the carpet for contaminated water and years of coverup.

Movie poster for 'Semper Fi: Always Faithful'
Movie poster for 'Semper Fi: Always Faithful'

(CAMP LEJEUNE NC) - The documentary 'Semper Fi: Always Faithful' premiered on MSNBC this week; the program marks a major accomplishment for Jerry Ensminger, a retired Marine Master Sergeant who lost his daughter to cancer.

It would take years before Jerry tied the death of his young daughter, Janey, to contaminated water aboard Camp Lejeune, the Marine Corps base in North Carolina that gave Mike Partain and more than seventy other men, male breast cancer. It is a unique problem stemming from Mike's time living at the base.

The two have been a powerhouse for humanity; unflinching and determined, the story has slowly and now more rapidly emerged, and it is never going away.

Through their unwavering efforts, and with some help from the media, this team uncovered startling facts, information about the years of coverup by the Marines, who outwardly lied and forged scientific documents to downplay the deadly toxicity.

We have written about it at length and other media outlets have also paid attention, it is hard not to once you have a conversation with either of these men. The following information was dispatched by Mike Partain today.
- forward by Salem-News.com news editor, Tim King

Earlier today (Saturday, 02/25), the USMC released the following statement about the MSNBC premier of our documentary “Semper Fi: Always Faithful. Please take the time to read over their statement and the emails Jerry and I forwarded to Colonel Vanopdorp who serves as a Marine Corps Congressional Liaison on Capitol Hill. I apologize for the length of the email but it is well worth the read.

Major General Kessler 's Statement

The Marine Corps takes very seriously the welfare of all of our Marines, family members, and employees. "Semper Fi: Always Faithful" does not fully address all of the complexities associated with the Camp Lejeune Historic Drinking Water issues. The Marine Corps was not a part of the production of this movie, but our priority remains working diligently and faithfully to resolve these important issues for our Marine Corps family, which includes those depicted in the film. We are committed to finding a responsible solution to this challenging and complex situation.

The Marine Corps continues to work with leading scientific organizations in an effort to provide comprehensive science-based answers to these health questions. We also continue our commitment to find and notify those who lived or worked aboard Camp Lejeune and we will continue to provide them information regarding the latest reliable scientific and medical findings. Information about Camp Lejeune Historic Drinking Water can be found at http://www.marines.mil/clwater. The Department of the Navy is supporting and working with both the Center for Disease Control's Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and the National Academy of Sciences (specifically, the National Research Council (NRC)), and plans to continue support of ATSDR's study of possible associations between Camp Lejeune water exposures and health effects. We have dedicated over $30 million to fund these scientific efforts and also are coordinating with the Department of Veterans Affairs. I would encourage those with questions about the current state of the science to contact ATSDR (www.atsdr.cdc.gov) and NRC (www.nationalacademies.org).

The Camp Lejeune Historic Drinking Water issue is a very important concern for our entire Marine Corps family and a deeply personal matter for me and the Commandant.

This was Jerry's reply to the Congressional Liaison

Colonel Vanopdorp,

First and foremost no one was "depicted" in this film, the word "depicted" leads one to believe that actors were used in its production, I can assure all of you that I am no actor. Secondly, I agree with Major General Kessler's assessment that our film didn't "fully address all of the complexities associated with the Camp Lejeune Historic Drinking Water issues." We didn't have the time nor the funding to cover all of the omissions, obfuscations, half-truths, and total lies told by USMC leaders over the last several decades of which Major General Kessler is part of to this very day. The Major General's comments concerning priority, diligence, and faithfulness in resolving this issue for "our Marine Corps family" were obviously aimed at the uninformed and/or naive. Anyone who has any understanding of this issue knows that the USMC's public statements say one thing but their actions behind the scenes spell out a whole different story which belies your public statements.

The only scientific organizations that the USMC has "truly" worked with regarding this issue has been the ones that you felt would give you the best excuses and exonerate you from any wrong doing. The DON/USMC have done everything in their power to throw up roadblocks to discourage and slowdown the ATSDR's work at Camp Lejeune since the early 1990's. You must be forgetting that I possess many of your internal documents and emails where representatives of the DON/USMC withheld data, provided incorrect data, and delayed the beginning of survey/study initiatives because the Hollywood movie "A Civil Action" was premiering in theaters nationwide.

The fact that the contaminated wells remained on-line for nearly five years before they were taken out of service was criminal negligence. Your current excuse for that negligence is just as bad or worse! "We just couldn't understand where the contaminants were coming from in the system", no kidding! If the authorities had followed the Navy's very explicit regulation for "Water Supplies Ashore" which is chapter five of NAVMED P-5010-5 dated August of 1963 (attached), water from each well was supposed to be tested annually. There was also a method of testing outlined in that very same chapter known as Carbon Chloroform Extract, (CCE) and it also set a regulatory standard of 200ppb for total organics in the treated water. That 200ppb standard was later lowered to 150ppb in the December 1972 BUMEDINST 6240.3C (attached), had these regulations been followed you wouldn't be sitting there today with Robert Hogue, the Commandant's lead counsel, "ginning" up these false excuses/lies.

Perhaps Major General Kessler is totally innocent in all of this, if he truly is, I would advise him to start asking some serious questions of the people advising him because much of your message is belied by your own historical records and directives...Semper Fi, Jerry Ensminger

This was my reply to the Colonel.

Colonel Vanopdorp,

I have spent the better part of this day answering a flood of emails and fielding a host of phone calls from a plethora of disillusioned members of what you and other members of the Marine Corp’s leadership refer to in the press as “Our Marine Family”. I want to start out by correcting the Major General on some semantics concerning our documentary. First of all, as Jerry so aptly illustrated, we are not actors nor did we “depict” something that may or may not have occurred. There is a distinct difference between a “movie” and a documentary.

Movies are produced in what the Major General correctly referred to as a “production”. A movie production usually involves elaborate sets constructed to depict or recreate a historical scene, they are staffed with actors selected to portray the various people in the script, and the scripts are crafted by professional writers working on the movie. In a true documentary, there are no actors. Instead there are subjects such as Jerry and myself. The subjects are real people, filmed in their real lives and “depict” no one but themselves. They are not paid nor are they directed to perform. We were not given scripts and our set is comprised of the many various actual locations where the events transpired and were filmed as they unfolded before the cameraman and his soundman. Please ask the Major General to kindly refrain from besmirching a documentary like Semper Fi: Always Faithful by using the incorrect terminology to describe the documentary. It is our opinion that his phraseology was done deliberately to give the impression that Semper Fi: Always Faithful was a “movie” and not a true documentary.

I can certainly understand the Corps’ reluctance to participate in any documentary, especially given the track record of your leadership’s prior interviews with the media. We all noted the extreme discomfort they all exhibited when forced to answer detailed questions about Camp Lejeune’s contaminated water. Sir, I am referring to the past interviews with Lt Col. Tencate, Major General Payne and Major General Jensen. As a matter of fact, since the Corps’ last live appearance on TV (CBS channel 4 in Miami), the Corps has absolutely refused to go on camera with any news agency and has instead resorted to written statements such as the one General Kessler released after the MSNBC showing of Semper Fi: Always Faithful. If honor demands nothing less than the full truth at all times, then why is the leadership of the Marine Corps so afraid to speak to the press about the Camp Lejeune drinking water contamination? Furthermore, why has the Corps’ leadership failed to meet with your detractors on this issue?

The good Major General also claims that the Marine Corps continues to “work with leading scientific organizations in an effort to provide comprehensive science-based answers to these health questions”. Once again there seems to be some type of misunderstanding here. According to Title 42 of the US Code, it is the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) which is tasked by Congress to provide our answers for our exposures to the toxic drinking water aboard Camp Lejeune and not the National Academies of Sciences. Over the past two decades, the Department of the Navy (DoN) and the Marine Corps has publicly lauded their feigned co-operation with the ATSDR while behind the scenes, the agency has had to beg for their required funding from DoN, repeatedly ask for critical documents pertinent to their work, and now face possible scientific invalidation of their work due to behind the scenes legal maneuvering by the Major General himself.

Mike Partain

Since 2009, the Marine Corps has tried to utilize a flawed Congressionally mandated scientific review of literature conducted by the National Research Council as their “true science” for Camp Lejeune. My question is why does the leadership of the Marine Corps resort to subverting the legal scientific body tasked by Congress to conduct the health studies at Camp Lejeune and instead, rely on a scientific body with no statutory authority and who entered into an undisclosed contract with the DoN prior to their report being released in June of 2009 as their basis for what they determine to be scientifically sound? I wonder what price the senior leadership for the Marine Corps has set for their honor? Surely, the recent events at Penn State should show you and your fellow leaders that covering up an injustice only compounds the resulting damage caused by the actions and mistakes made in the past.-

Respectfully,-

Mike Partain

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Army vet April 14, 2012 9:53 pm (Pacific time)

Why do the marines think they have the only water contamimation problem? I am also sick and tired of the obvious attempt to receive a ton of money while these self-described super patriots have no concern about the army vets. Loud vulgar and self-serving double-digit IQ'd greedy whiners.

Editor:  Soldiers are good people, but some lack the fraternal spirit that is instilled in all Marines, esprit de Corps is something we take seriously.  I care about soldiers,. We have Jeff Gates and Ralph Stone and John McCarthy who are all Army Vietnam Vets.  Dr. Leveque who was an Army Infantryman in Patton's Army, really keeps the U.S. Army out there as a subject with us, it hasn't been a week since he last wrote about WWII and the challenges facing those soldiers and he often explains his story for the benefit of other soldiers.  When you approach us in this insulting tone, it is hard to not take a shot back at you.   Regarding Marines, we are smart and strong, we stick together like glue, don't hold it against us, we are the smallest military service.  If you truly care about members of the US Army, then suggest leads, give us ideas, it is true we are wrapped up in taking care of our own but we consider you and yours in the same lot, OK?

Semper fi.


Roger E. Bütow February 27, 2012 2:09 pm (Pacific time)

Watch the now viral video of the WW II vet, 86, carjacked, who crawls for help with a broken leg....That's the metaphor I feel resonating in my heart. Once we Marines were important, had value, then suddenly we're just damaged, expendable and not useful goods. Our government, like the onlookers at this tragedy, just stroll by and no one intervenes, no one helps.
We're like a rubber, put us on for temporary protection, then discard us to the trash bins and toilets, move along, nothing to see here.
A man like that WW II vet raised his hand to give up his life, and in a sense his family's lives for his nation.
This story about Jerry E. is no different, sacrifices that go unappreciated and just more coverups. The military expects respect but gives none, what's the medal for cowardice?
These aren't colonels and generals, these so-called field grade officers being interviewed or quoted are closer to criminals than leaders you'd follow into Hell with.....and they wonder why we're pissed off?

Editor:  That is a terrible story Roger, I checked with Detroit PD yesterday but they didn't have an available press release,  it is highly disturbing.


Kevin February 27, 2012 6:24 am (Pacific time)

Thanks for not taking care of our drinking water when myself and three other family members, all ( Marines ) were stationed at Camp Lejeune back in the 90's! This is how you treat the best fighting force in America? Im so glad I did not re-enlist and stay longer at C. Lejeune. This story just shows again how the Government and its Military leaders will cover up anything because they are the cowards who hide from any negative exposure when its time to man up and fix this problem. Time for me and my family of real Marines to start getting tested. Disgusted and outraged, Cpl. Harpel, Kevin J. 1371 two years at Camp Lejeune. 1997-1998.

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.