From St. Petersburg Times:

It seemed as if everyone had a story about illness or death. They filled the room.

Men and women with breast cancer. Prostate cancer. Bladder cancer. Disorders of the nervous system. The parents of babies who died days after birth. Husbands and wives who recalled the agony of a loved one.

The one thing they shared other than illness brought them to Tampa Saturday:

They had all lived at Camp Lejeune, a Marine Corps base in North Carolina.

Up to 250 people, mostly Tampa Bay residents, gathered at the Tampa Marriott Westshore for an informational meeting about what scientists think is one of the worst incidents of drinking water contamination in the nation’s history.

The meeting was organized by a law firm seeking clients.

But it was two of the leading advocates for the alleged victims of that tainted water who presented the case that the corps ignored stark warnings about pollution and waited four years to close those wells.

The advocates said they suffered, too. Former Marine drill instructor Jerry Ensminger’s daughter was conceived at Lejeune and died of leukemia at age 9. Mike Partain, an officer’s son, was born at the base in 1968 and is one of 67 men who lived at Lejeune and were later diagnosed with rare breast cancer.

Both men told the crowd to urge Florida’s congressional delegation to get involved to help Lejeune’s ill and dying.

“These are the people who lost a loved one to cancer or who had cancer or are dealing with cancer,” Partain said after the meeting. “These are the people who loved and trusted the corps and now feel a sense of betrayal.”

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