"Jack" Murtha, Jr. (June 17, 1932 - February 8, 2010):
John P. Murtha, Jr.
was an American politician from the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. Murtha, a
Democrat, represented Pennsylvania's 12th congressional district in the
United States House of Representatives from 1974 until his death in 2010.
A former Marine Corps officer, Murtha was the first Vietnam War veteran
elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. A member of the Pennsylvania
House from 1969 to 1974, he narrowly won a special election to Congress in
1974 and was successively reelected every two years until his death. In the
first decade of the 21st century, Murtha had been best known for his calls
for a withdrawal of American forces in Iraq, as well as questions about his
In 2006, after the Democrats won control of Congress in the 2006 midterm
elections he made a failed bid to be elected House Majority Leader during the
110th Congress (2007–2009) with the open support of the new House Speaker,
Nancy Pelosi. He lost to Steny Hoyer of Maryland. After the Republican's
defeat to the Democratic Majority in 2006 Murtha re-assumed his chairmanship
of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee. He had previously chaired
this subcommittee from 1989 to 1995 and served as its ranking member from
1995 to 2007.
Murtha was born into an Irish-American family in New Martinsville, West
Virginia, near the border with Ohio and Pennsylvania, and grew up in
Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, a largely suburban county east of
As a youth, he became an Eagle Scout. He also worked delivering newspapers,
picking papinkis, and at a gas station before graduating from The Kiski
School, an all-male boarding school in Saltsburg, Pennsylvania.
Murtha left Washington and Jefferson College in 1952 to join the Marine Corps
and was awarded the American Spirit Honor Medal for displaying outstanding
leadership qualities during training. He became a drill instructor at Parris
Island and was selected for Officer Candidate School at Quantico, Virginia.
He was then assigned to the Second Marine Division, Camp Lejeune, North
Carolina. As an undergraduate, Murtha was initiated into the Kappa Sigma
Murtha remained in the Marine Forces Reserve and ran a small business,
Johnstown Minute Car Wash (which still operates in the West End section of
Johnstown). He also attended the University of Pittsburgh on the G.I. Bill,
and received a degree in economics. Murtha later took graduate courses from
the Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He married his wife Joyce on June 10,
1955. They had three children: daughter Donna and twin sons Patrick and John
M., who live in Johnstown.
Murtha left the Marines in 1955. He remained in the Reserves after his
discharge from active duty until he volunteered for service in the Vietnam
War, serving from 1966 to 1967, serving as a battalion staff officer (S-2
Intelligence Section), receiving the Bronze Star with Valor device, two
Purple Hearts, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. He retired from the
Marine Corps Reserve as a Colonel in 1990, receiving the Navy Distinguished
In December 2009, Murtha was admitted to the National Naval Medical Center in
Bethesda, Maryland after suffering from abdominal pains. He had surgery to
remove his gallbladder in December 2009; In late January 2010, he was
admitted to the intensive care unit due to complications from the surgery. He
died on February 8, 2010. John P. Murtha was buried at Grandview Cemetery in
John Murtha (LPD 26):
Secretary of the Navy
Ray Mabus announced April 23 the selection of the USS John P. Murtha (LPD 26)
as the name of the 10th San Antonio class Amphibious Transport Dock ship.
Mabus made the announcement at John P. Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County
airport in Johnstown, Pa.
The USS John P. Murtha honors the late U.S. representative and Marine who
dedicated his life to serving his country. Murtha served a distinguished 37
years in the Marine Corps and received the Bronze Star with Combat
"V," two Purple Hearts and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry for
his service in the Vietnam War, retiring as a colonel in 1990.
In his public life, Murtha served the people of Pennsylvania's 12th
Congressional District from 1974 until his death in 2010. In his position as
the chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, he oversaw
funding issues for the Department of Defense, including the Air Force, Army,
Marine Corps, Navy and the intelligence community.
"Both in uniform and in the halls of Congress, Chairman Murtha dedicated
his life to serving his country both in the Marine Corps and Congress. His
unwavering support of our Sailors and Marines, and in particular of our
wounded warriors, was well known and deeply appreciated," said Mabus.