JACKSONVILLE, N.C. – It's a name proudly displayed on street signs and businesses all across Jacksonville -- the name of Lt. Gen. John A. Lejeune, a man widely regarded as one of the greatest Marines of all time -- but that name is often mispronounced.
"He's responsible for really saving the Marine Corps and for establishing our identity as an amphibious force," said Camp Lejeune public affairs director Nat Fahy. "He was our 13th commandant for nine years.
“He saved Virginia Military Institute. He established the Marine Corps Ball, the Marine Corps Association."
In 1941, Camp Lejeune was named in his honor. Former Marine George Barrows says he was told in 1945 the correct way to say the name.
"When I went into the Marine Corps, my drill instructor emphasized to me that the way to pronounce the name of Lejeune is 'luh-jern,'" he said.
Barrows is instrumental in the Lejeune (Luh-jern) Movement and recalls when Lejeune (Luh-june) began creeping into the vernacular.
“All of a sudden, in the 1960s, sometime they got out of the habit of saying 'Luh-jern' because they said there's no 'r' in it. Well is there an 'r' in colonel?" he said.
The base's public affairs office says for the past few years, base leaders have pronounced the name as camp “luh-jern” and for good reason.
"Ultimately it's about respect. It's about respect for the greatest leatherneck of all time, the 13th commandant of the Marine Corps, and it's respect for his family and respect for our traditions and our history," Fahy said.
Lejeune died in 1942. His ancestors have always pronounced their name as “Luh-jern.”