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From Marine to activist in 'Semper Fi'

We've got a very special program lined up this Friday night.

We've got a very special program lined up this Friday night. We're examining the one man's transformation from Marine to activist in "Semper Fi: Always Faithful." Our very own Lawrence O'Donnell hosts the award-winning doc, which makes its msnbc debut on Friday at 10pm ET.

Marine Corps Master Sgt. Jerry Ensminger was a devoted Marine for nearly 25 years. As a drill instructor in the Marine Corps, he was responsible for training thousands of new recruits. But, when Jerry's nine-year-old daughter Janey passed away from a rare type of leukemia, his structured world began to collapse around him. As a grief-stricken father, he spent years struggling to make sense of what had happened — how could an otherwise healthy nine-year-old suddenly become so fatally ill? His search for answers led him to a shocking discovery: the Marine Corps base where his family had lived for years was the site of one of the largest incidents of water contamination in U.S. history.

 For 30 years, the drinking water at North Carolina's Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base was highly contaminated by toxic chemicals, with some chemical levels at nearly 280 times the legal amount.  Years later, it is estimated that nearly one million Marines and their families may have been exposed to extremely high levels of carcinogens through the water. But even now, 25 years after the wells were finally closed, only a fraction of the former residents are even aware of their exposure to the toxic chemicals. 


"Semper Fi: Always Faithful" unfolds like a detective novel, tracking the discovery of the contamination and taking viewers to the foreground of Jerry's fight for justice. It's not a Hollywood movie — it's a true story, and we'll get a personal look into the lives of those who have lost children or are sick themselves from the contaminated water.