Semper Fi: Always Faithful


Marine Corps Master Sgt. Jerry Ensminger was a devoted Marine for nearly 25 years. As a drill instructor he lived and breathed the “Corps” and was responsible for indoctrinating thousands of new recruits. When Jerry’s nine-year-old daughter died of a rare type of leukemia, his world was upended. As a grief-stricken father, he struggled to make sense of what happened. In his search for answers, he discovered a Marine Corps cover-up of one of the largest water contamination incidents in U.S. history.

For nearly 30 years, the drinking water at North Carolina’s Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base was highly contaminated by carcinogenic industrial solvents. It is estimated that nearly one million Marines and their families drank, bathed, and cooked with this water. However, when the toxic wells were finally closed, no one was ever told of their exposure to these harmful chemicals and the contamination was never made public.

Unfolding like a detective novel, Semper Fi: Always Faithful tracks the discovery of the contamination and the subsequent cover-up and takes us through present day events as Jerry leads a coalition of former base residents in a fight for justice on behalf of the Marines and their families exposed to these deadly toxins. Many of them have lost children or are now sick themselves. Like the film Erin Brockovich, Semper Fi: Always Faithful tells the story of an environmental disaster from a very personal perspective as we watch these soldiers transform themselves into the activists that they never imagined they would become.

In the process of investigating the Camp Lejeune contamination, Jerry and his coalition uncover an even larger issue—the abysmal environmental record of the military. The Department of Defense is the United States’ worst polluter, which raises grave questions about contaminations at other military sites and the effect on neighboring civilian communities. Semper Fi: Always Faithful tells a timely and sobering story of the betrayal of U.S. soldiers and warns of a looming environmental crisis at military sites across the country.

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