Congressman Jack Murtha Dead At 77
Congressman Jack Murtha died after complications from gall bladder surgery.
Murtha enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1952 and became a drill instructor at Parris Island. He served in Korea and received a Bronze Star and Two Purple Hearts for his service in Vietnam. He continued to be a member of the Marine Corps Reserves until he resigned as a colonel in 1990.
Murtha voted to go to war in Iraq the fall of 2002. But two years later, the Pennsylvania Democrat called for the U.S to withdraw from. Later on the House floor, Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH), the newest member of the House at the time, spoke in favor of the war and chided Murtha that “cowards cut and run, Marines never do.” Schmidt’s remarks ignited a firestorm on the House floor as lawmakers rose to Murtha’s defense. Schmidt later said she didn’t know that Murtha was a Marine. She withdrew her comments and apologized.
Murtha continued to provoke controversy.
Murtha also stirred controversy in the fall of 2008 with President Obama poised to become the first African American president. When asked about Mr. Obama’s chances in his Congressional district, Murtha responded that “there’s no question western Pennsylvania is a racist area.”
Even though Murtha won re-election, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) carried the district over by about 1,000 votes.
Despite controversy, Murtha was beloved by his House colleagues for holding court in what’s called “Murtha’s corner” in the rear of the House chamber. During a House vote series, Murtha could often be seen trading information or spinning yarns with fellow lawmakers. He also won the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award and Pennsylvania’s two highest honors, the Distinguished Service Medal and the Meritorious Service Medal.Click here for reuse options!
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