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RIP, John Murtha

Associated Press:


Tribune-Democrat:

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.

McClatchy:

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.