Though the U.S. Marine Corps is the smallest of all of the military’s branches, it has an enormous reputation. The Marines are actually a division of the Navy: though they are responsible for providing both ground and air strength, they do so from the sea. That means that all of their operations are coordinated and enabled by the Navy, and originates from Navy ships. As a result, during combat operations and while serving overseas, Marines suffered much of the same exposure to asbestos as did Navy personnel.  They also were exposed to asbestos from installations, equipment and vehicles provided exclusively for their branch’s use.

If you or someone you love served in the Marines and has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or any other asbestos-related disease, you may be entitled to compensation from the asbestos companies. No matter what your mesothelioma stage, this compensation can come from filing a mesothelioma lawsuit or from filing a claim with the $30 billion asbestos trust funds. For more information on your rights and the reimbursement you may be able to receive, contact us today. We will send you a free Financial Compensation Packet, or put you in touch with one of our compassionate and experienced mesothelioma attorneys.

How Marines Were Exposed to Asbestos

The Marine Corps has a long and interesting history, and that history is tied to the reason that so many of those who served in this branch have been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases. Originally established to serve as a light infantry division of the Navy, Marine Corps personnel were housed and transported via Navy ships that were insulated and constructed using asbestos. The material was widely used throughout the 20th century because of its strength and resistance to heat and flame, and this made it particularly desirable and valuable for all of the U.S. armed services. Though we now know that asbestos is highly toxic and causes many serious illnesses, at that time it was used with the best intentions of providing service men and women with the protection that they needed. Though these environments may have been fortified, they were also poorly ventilated, and that means that any asbestos that was in the air was at high risk of being inhaled or ingested.

The Marines’ responsibilities expanded through the years, and eventually developed to include an expeditionary force called the Fleet Marine Force (FMF). Surface warships were protected by the Corps’ Marine Security Detachments, and they had many other responsibilities as well. Because all of the services that the Marines provided involved Navy ships, that meant that the Corps’ personnel were exposed to asbestos in their working quarters, in the areas where they relaxed and slept, and where they ate. The powerful carcinogen was an integral material in Navy vessels, and was used in gaskets, steam pipes, boiler rooms and more. No matter what division they were in, those on board the Navy’s vessels were exposed to asbestos on a constant basis, often for periods of time that lasted for months.

Whether Marines were part of the FMF or served in air or land battalions, they were exposed to asbestos on the Navy’s vessels as well as in their own equipment. The use of asbestos by the U.S. armed forces began in the late 19th century, but was at its height in the years between the beginning of World War II and the end of the Cold War. During that time new vessels were being ordered and supplied at a remarkable level, and the same was true of the construction of military bases and infrastructure. The Marines grew to include several different divisions manned by nearly 500,000 service men and women, and many of them were at risk for asbestos-related diseases as a result of their environment.

After the War Years

On learning of the dangers of asbestos, many people believe that only those who served in the Marines during World War II are in danger of asbestos-related diseases, but that is not the case. The ships that the Marines served on and from during the war years continued to be used for decades, and the elite fighting force continued providing valued services around the world, even during peace time. Many of the vessels were retrofitted for new purposes, but these alterations did not include removing asbestos: in fact, in many cases more asbestos was installed to provide greater protection against flame and heat. It was not until the 1970s that asbestos’ dangers were discovered and the Marines began removing it from their environment – by then personnel had been exposed when sent to assist in areas of global conflict, as well as during the Korean War and the Vietnam War. Marines were also exposed to asbestos in the infrastructure of their active duty and reserve bases, and also in Iraq, where many of the structures where they lived or served were made with the dangerous material.

Since asbestos was discovered to be so hazardous, the Marine Corps has assumed responsibility for ensuring that their personnel are protected. The idea of “force protection” has long been part of the Corps’ philosophy, but with news of the dangers of the ubiquitous material it expanded beyond battle readiness and security to include an all-out effort to remove asbestos from their environment and provide personnel who may have been exposed to it with special health screenings.

Marine Bases – Active Duty and Reserved

Though not every Marine base was constructed using asbestos, many of them were. The following list of bases represents those which are known to have had asbestos present in their environment or equipment:

  • Camp H.M. Smith, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Aiea, Hawaii
  • Henderson Hall, Arlington, Virginia
  • Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C.
  • Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, Havelock, North Carolina
  • Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Iwakuni, Japan
  • Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Miramar, California
  • Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Yuma, Arizona
  • Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Twentynine Palms, California
  • Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Jacksonville, North Carolina
  • Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Oceanside, California
  • Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley Butler, Okinawa
  • Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii
  • Marine Corps Base Quantico, Quantico, Virginia
  • Marine Corps Detachment, Guantanamo Naval Base, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
  • Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, Beaufort, South Carolina
  • Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, San Diego, California
  • Mountain Warfare Training Center, Bridgeport, California

Legal Help

People who served in the Marines and who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma are not able to file lawsuits against the government, but they may be eligible to receive VA disability benefits and medical care. Additionally, you may be able to hold the companies that provided the asbestos-contaminated materials responsible for the harm that they have suffered. For information about the steps needed to get compensation from the $30 billion asbestos trust funds, or to file a mesothelioma lawsuit against the asbestos companies that negligently exposed them to asbestos, you need the assistance of a law firm that specializes in asbestos lawsuits. If you or someone you love has an asbestos-related condition like mesothelioma, asbestosis, or asbestos lung cancer, contact our office today at 1-800-706-5606. We will put you in touch with one of our experienced mesothelioma attorneys or send you a free Financial Compensation Packet that will provide you with helpful information about the compensation that you may be eligible to receive.