MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
The legacy of Lt. Gen. John A. Lejeune, a man often referred to as the “Marine’s Marine” and “The greatest of all Leathernecks,” still continues more than 78 years after retiring from the Marine Corps.
The Lejeune namesake continues in the Corps with several enlisted Marines and one officer.
Second Lt. Learlin Lejeune III, platoon commander with Weapons Platoon, Company B, 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, is the only officer in the Marine Corps with a direct relation to the 13th Commandant of the Marine Corps.
Learlin Lejeune, an Acadia Parish, Louisiana-native, is the great-great nephew of Lt. Gen. Lejeune, according to family genealogy records.
“Both he and I trace our ancestry back to Jean Baptiste Lejeune, who was one of the three Lejeune brothers that came from Nova Scotia, Canada,” Learlin Lejeune said. “Those three brothers moved out after the exile of the Acadians in Canada and moved to New Roads, Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana.”
Growing up, Learlin Lejeune didn’t learn about his highly-respected relative until his teenage years.
“I really didn’t know of him growing up as a young kid,” Learlin Lejeune said. “It wasn’t until about high school when I started considering the military as a career and later read his book ‘Reminiscence of a Marine’.”
According to Learlin Lejeune, Lt. Gen. Lejeune is the example of a stellar Marine and looks up to him as an example for his own career.
“When people see my nametapes, they ask me if I’m related to Lejeune,” Learlin Lejeune stated. “It makes me feel proud of the heritage that he established for our family. I can only hope I can live up to the namesake as well. That’s big shoes I have to fill. He was a phenomenal Marine and just a phenomenal man in general.”
Although Learlin Lejeune shares a revered last name in the Marine Corps, his nametapes did not give him any “wiggle room” at Officer Candidate School.
“When I was going through OCS they found out what my last name was, and of course, there was some extra ‘special treatment’,” Learlin Lejeune said jokingly. “During my class there was myself, another Marine whose last name was Marine and a Marine with the last name Sailors. So everyday after class we would get together and see who had the most interesting afternoon.”
Now, a platoon commander with the “Walking Dead”, Learlin Lejeune prepares to lead his Marines on an upcoming deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, like his great-great uncle did during the Spanish-American War as a lieutenant.