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RIP, John Murtha

Associated Press:


U.S. Rep. John Murtha, the powerful Democrat who represented this area since 1974, died this afternoon in a Virginia hospital.

The congressman’s office released a brief statement saying Murtha “passed away peacefully” at 1:18 p.m. His family was at his bedside, spokesman Matt Mazonkey said.


On Saturday, he became the longest-serving congressman in Pennsylvania history.


WASHINGTON — Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), the first Vietnam veteran elected to the House of Representatives and an outspoken critic of the Iraq war, died Monday of complications of gallbladder surgery, a spokesman for the lawmaker said.

He was 77. He died at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, Va., spokesman Matthew Mazonkey told the AP.

From Murtha’s official bio:

U.S. Representative John P. Murtha has dedicated his life to serving his country both in the military and in the halls of Congress. He had a long and distinguished 37-year career in the U.S. Marine Corps, retiring from the Marine Corps Reserve as a colonel in 1990.

He has been serving the people of Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District since 1974. Currently serving his 19th term, Congressman Murtha is the eighth most senior member of the 435-member U.S. House of Representatives. Of the nearly 10,600 men and women who have served in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1789, only 79 have served longer than he has.

NY Times Caucus blog:

A former Marine, Mr. Murtha, his office noted, was the first Vietnam War combat Veteran elected to Congress. Throughout his years, Mr. Murtha paid particular attention to defense spending and to the Pentagon and the military.

When he called for bringing the troops home from Iraq in 2005, after having voted for the war, his proposal stunned many in Congress and added a powerful voice to the growing forces demanding immediate drawdowns and or deadlines.

Murtha was not perfect, but I will remember him for speaking up when few in Congress had the courage to do so. He gave voice to millions of Americans who felt no one was listening.

My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends. Rest in peace, John Murtha.

26 Responses

  1. I am so saddened by this news . I loved John Murtha. He was an old-time Democrat who stood for the comman people, stood for America. He also stood for Hillary – will never forget that.

  2. I’m so sorry, I was afraid this was coming. I heard that Murtha was in the hospital. Thank you so much for posting this Wonk. No, he wasn’t perfect, but he did do his best to help veterans and I give him a lot of credit for opposing the war in Iraq.

  3. John Murtha was my Congessperson. I have great respect for him. He stood with Hillary till the end. His decision to stand up and say it was time to withdraw from Iraq was monumental and courageous. Our area will be devastated…. and I mean seriously DEVASTATED. RIP Mr. Murtha. You will be sorely missed.

  4. I wish peace to his family, and give thanks for his years of service, his support of Hillary Clinton, his integrity, and his courage. We need Dems like Mr. Murtha, and unfortunately, they are now few and far between.

  5. Sad day.

  6. My prayers go out to his family.

  7. A politician FOR the people. I am very familiar with Congressman Murtha’s district and these are the hardworking blue collar people that got walloped in the
    late 50’s when the mines closed and again in the 70’s when the steel mills closed.
    John brought real help and real change for them. He delivered. We loved him.
    When I went back to PA to work for Hillary, I went to the Johntown rally with the Governor and the Congressman and Hillary. They were definitely on Hill’s side and that made me admire John even more.
    Yes, his voice early on after the war started and calling out Bush’s BS and challenging Bush, made me realize the whole country hadn’t gone insane. It gave others more brave and others began to speak out.
    I agreed with John and I respected John. It gave me great hope. See, John Murtha actually created change and actually delivered hope.

    On to better things for you ,John,
    Your work here is done.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience… I didn’t want to talk about it in putting up his bio, because this isn’t about Hillary. But, yes, he stuck by her. Unlike some.

  8. His website now has his death notice & bio.


  9. Nice article in the Johnston newspaper detailing his last interview with the paper.


  10. Can’t they give it a rest–good gawd!

  11. November 17, 2005:

  12. I was saddened when I heard that he was ill. He was a fighter for his district , for veterans, against un-necessary war and for Hillary. Our nation has lost a wonderful. noble leader.

    • Funny how the Democratic party has more genuine war heroes than the “pro-military” GOP, isn’t it.

      People who have put their asses on the line for our country aren’t as eager to send young people to die as the chickenhawks are.

      • November 2005:

        When asked about Mr. Cheney’s remarks on Wednesday, Mr. Murtha replied sarcastically: “I like guys who’ve never been there that criticize us who’ve been there. I like that. I like guys who got five deferments and never been there and send people to war and then don’t like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done.”

      • Draft dodging Bush won against Vietnam Veteran John Kerry by saying he would be weak on defense.
        Its a clusterf*ck all around.

  13. i remember the pennsylvania primary. murtha hobbled up onto that stage and told them to vote for hillary because she was the one who could get the job done. it wasn’t the smartest thing to do politically, but he did it anyway.

    and hillary beat obama by ten points.

    • and hillary beat obama by ten points.

      How many Pennsylvania delegates voted for Hillary at the convention??

      (this is a trick question)

      • 0

        At NY vote: Senator Clinton moves “in the spirit of unity” to suspend the rules, suspend the Roll Call of the States and nominate Barack Obama for President of the United States by acclamation… seconded… approved ‘viva voce’ (at the time this was done– the delegate vote count was OBAMA 1549.5 CLINTON 341.5).

        • Then, after the Secy. of the 2008 Convention released the final tally on Sept. 2, Clinton had 20 PA votes.

  14. I will miss Rep. Murtha. He had courage when others around him were still sniffing GW’s butt. He said the truth about the Iraq war and what it got him was swiftboating. The right did everything they could to discredit him. As far as the pork goes, I wish my rep and senators would bring some pork back to Michigan as God knows we need it. This man was a true American hero who was willing to fight for his country both in uniform and in congress. I know he received many medals from his time in Vietnam but I will remember him most for his sane remarks about getting out of Iraq. Rest in Peace John and bless your family.

  15. He’ll be welcomed in the afterlife, provided there is one, with open arms. Blessings to him and his family.

  16. I must say, politics and religion bring out the best along with the the bad side in folk. The very best because both can result in folk being unbelievably altrusitic, the very worst as both can result in unbelievably inflexible and difficult action. I’m not attacking you, this post simply made me see this, so thanks for that.

  17. I am from the Johnstown area and let me tell you. I DO appreciate the work he did for our area. He brought real jobs not the ones that the so called stimulus does now. This area as others have said were in great need. They also were the kind of centers that benefited all the people even the ones who complained.
    I volunteered for Hillary and saw the support he had shown her and know the people for miss him for many reasons ,here and in the nation. He had the courage to say what we were thinking and just did it! Whether sticking with Hillary or the Iraq war.

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