Marine lieutenant in Kajaki played football at Navy


Second Lt. Jeff Lenar was a burly lineman for the Naval Academy before dropping some 50 pounds and becoming a Marine officer. (James J. Lee/Staff)

KAJAKI, Afghanistan – Second Lt. Jeff Lenar is a long way from the bright lights of college football at the U.S. Naval Academy, and it took serious discipline to get there.

The infantry officer with 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, leads 2nd Platoon, Alpha Company, overseeing Marines in combat who patrol near the landmark Kajaki Dam in Helmand province. Since deploying early this year, he has led his platoon in raids into Taliban-held area and overseen surveillance missions used to collect information about insurgents.

His trip there was complicated: to join his fellow Marines, Lenar shed dozens of pounds from his 6-foot-4 frame. He was listed at about 270 pounds while on the team, but now weighs about 220, he said.

Lenar, 25, of Marietta, Ga., said he lost the weight in about six months before reporting to officer training at The Basic School, out of Quantico, Va.

“I went into it knowing I had to gain weight, and then that’d I’d have to take it off,” he said of playing college football.

As a Midshipman, Lenar provided depth at offensive guard, graduating in 2010. He reported to 1/8 in July 2011, and has been with the battalion since.


About Author

I'm a senior writer with Marine Corps Times, covering ground warfare, manpower, weapons acquisition and other beats. I embedded in Afghanistan in spring 2010, and plan to return at least once in 2011.


  1. Steve Mitchell on

    My son is best freinds with Jeff. My wife and I are great friends of his parents. I know that we can not contact Jeff directly so if you can give him a BIG “HOORAAA” from the Mitchell’s. That would be awesome!!!

    Jeff wanted to be a Marine since he was a KID – We are very proud of his accomplishments.

    God Speed — Love Mitch

  2. Jeff! My family was his (and a couple other football guys) sponsor when he was at NAPS. I consider him my big brother and I miss him! Semper Fi 🙂

  3. Ole Man Jeff and I go back to the late 1970’s. LT Lenar got his interest in the military from the old man. I know why that is and so does the old man. We will leave for only us to know. Having spent 24 years in Air Force Blue, I know what this young American hero is going through; and I coouldn’t be prouder of him and his team for what they must do in that Gog-forsaken place. Semper FI Jyreen.

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