The first Vietnam combat vet to serve in Congress, Rep. John Murtha died Monday from complications during gall bladder surgery. He was 77.
The Pennsylvania representative was known for his strong anti-war politics and the controversy that followed him through his career. As the top Democrat on the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, Murtha had sweeping authority to determine how federal dollars were disbursed and who received them. Murtha had been repeatedly dogged by allegations of corruption, most recently involving his prowess at inserting special-interest spending provisions known as earmarks into Pentagon spending bills. Murtha’s death leaves House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., without a key ally on defense and foreign policy issues.
He was in the Marine Corps, 1952-1955, 1966-67. He fought in Korea and Murtha volunteered to serve in Vietnam, earning two Purple Hearts and Bronze Star. He was in the Marine Corps Reserves, 1955-66, 1967-90.
Murtha was born June 17, 1932 in New Martinsburg, W.Va. He earned a degree at the University of Pittsburgh, in economics 1962. He also attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania, 1963-64. He is survived by his wife, Joyce; a daughter and twin sons; three grandchildren. [USA Today]