I can say with absolute honesty that I would have preferred John Murtha left office standing up, after losing an election this fall.
Sadly, it’s not to be. John Murtha passed away today after complication from gall-bladder surgery.
For all the policy stances I disagreed with, and the way he dealt with opposition (not well), one still must respect his story:
Born June 17, 1932, John Patrick Murtha delivered newspapers and worked at a gas station before graduating from Ramsay High School in Mount Pleasant.
Military service was in Murtha’s blood. He said his great-grandfather served in the Civil War, his father and three uncles in World War II, and his brothers in the Marine Corps.
He left Washington and Jefferson College in 1952 to join the Marines, where he rose through the ranks to become a drill instructor at Parris Island, S.C., and later served in the 2nd Marine Division.
Murtha moved back to Johnstown and remained with the Marine Reserves until he volunteered to go to Vietnam. He served as an intelligence officer there from 1966 to 1967 and received a Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts.
He spent much of his political career as a “blue-ish dog” Democrat. Indeed, he only became the toast of the left after coming out against the Iraq War. In this, he was both wrong…:
Murtha’s criticism of the Iraq war intensified in 2006, when he accused Marines of murdering Iraqi civilians “in cold blood” at Haditha, Iraq, after one Marine died and two were wounded by a roadside bomb.
Critics said Murtha unfairly held the Marines responsible before an investigation was concluded and fueled enemy retaliation.
…and presciently correct…:
“This is the kind of war you have to win the hearts and minds of the people,” Murtha said. “And we’re set back every time something like this happens.”
Which, eventually, we learned.
I’m not one to let a political disagreement obscure the record of a great American.
RIP, John Murtha.