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A meme from a Marine Facebook page making fun of the missing gear from Camp Lejeune just before Christmas.

A meme from a Marine Facebook page making fun of the missing gear from Camp Lejeune just before Christmas. (FACEBOOK)

A meme from a Marine Facebook page making fun of the missing gear from Camp Lejeune just before Christmas.

A meme from a Marine Facebook page making fun of the missing gear from Camp Lejeune just before Christmas. (FACEBOOK)

A meme from a Marine Facebook page makes fun of the NCIS investigation regarding the missing gear from Camp Lejeune.

A meme from a Marine Facebook page makes fun of the NCIS investigation regarding the missing gear from Camp Lejeune. (FACEBOOK)

A meme from a Marine Facebook page makes fun of the missing gear from Camp Lejeune, insinuating an unnamed lieutenant was one of the Marines who lost his rifle.

A meme from a Marine Facebook page makes fun of the missing gear from Camp Lejeune, insinuating an unnamed lieutenant was one of the Marines who lost his rifle. (FACEBOOK)

A meme from a Marine Facebook page makes fun of the missing gear from Camp Lejeune, insinuating an unnamed lieutenant was one of the Marines who lost his rifle.

A meme from a Marine Facebook page makes fun of the missing gear from Camp Lejeune, insinuating an unnamed lieutenant was one of the Marines who lost his rifle. (FACEBOOK)

A meme from a Marine Facebook page making fun of the missing gear from Camp Lejeune, comparing the incident to the film, "Dude, Where's My Car?"

A meme from a Marine Facebook page making fun of the missing gear from Camp Lejeune, comparing the incident to the film, "Dude, Where's My Car?" (FACEBOOK)

Memes have cropped up around social media sites after reports that Marines with 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment are searching for gear that went missing during a training exercise.

Memes have cropped up around social media sites after reports that Marines with 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment are searching for gear that went missing during a training exercise. (Facebook)

Scuttlebutt over lost rifles aside, Marines from Camp Lejeune will be allowed to take off for the holidays and the base has not been locked down, officials said.

Marines with the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, reportedly lost two M4 service rifles and a body armor set during a training exercise on base recently. A Naval Criminal Investigative Service probe began Wednesday, military officials said.

Since then, dozens of often contradictory rumors have been swirling on social media, posted apparently by junior Marines.

Many claimed that Christmas leave at the base was canceled as a form of collective punishment over the lost combat gear, and that nobody was being allowed off base.

But Marine officials said that those who had leave approved have been allowed to go, and that the base was not under lockdown.

First Lt. Dan Linfante, a Camp Lejeune spokesman, confirmed that Marines are not being denied leave as a result of the incident.

“Leave is an important benefit afforded to all Marines, in particular during the holiday season,” he said in a statement Sunday.

The Lance Corporal Underground — the unofficial term for junior Marines’ rumor network — seemed convinced it was an inside job, said a Marine with the battalion who spoke to Stars and Stripes on condition of anonymity.

Other Marines have taken to putting their conspiracy theories to the internet in the shape of memes. Hundreds circulated online over the weekend on various Marine Corps-oriented pages, including many implying that a lieutenant and a corporal had simply misplaced their rifles during the training.

egnash.martin@stripes.com Twitter: @Marty_Stripesjohnson.immanuel@stripes.com Twitter: @Manny_Stripes

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Manny covers the U.S. military in Bavaria and Central Europe for Stars and Stripes. A Seattle, Washington native, he’s an alumnus of the Defense Information School, American Public University and Liberty University.

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