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Jack Murtha Hall of Fame

by christian on February 9, 2010

All right folks, you’ve had your “cricket” dance with Murtha’s death, now it’s time to look back at his career.

I’d like our readers to list their top three most influential DEFENSE-RELATED things Murtha has done or championed in his more than three decades on The Hill.

Here are mine:

1.) Beating the Soviets: Murtha was a Scoop Jackson Democrat who championed the cause of freedom against communist aggressionand supported the Muj in Afghanistan against the Soviets. He was also in the tiny minority of Democrats who voted in favor of Ronald Reagan’s $100 billion million aid plan to the Contras in Nicaragua, so I give him huge credit for being consistent in his support of defeating the Soviets.

2.) Pushing the V-22 forward: Murtha — for legitimate programmatic reasons or for pure hometown pork — was a strong supporter of the V-22 Osprey program when the program was in its darkest days. The V-22 is a huge leap in technology for rotorcraft and will prove itself over the long run to be the way of the future for air assault and helicopter support operations. Murtha, whether he meant to be or not, was a visionary on this count.

3.) Changing the Army’s Camouflage Uniform: In one of his last, and perhaps most classically executed, moves Murtha bullied the Army into taken a very public relook at their disastrous Universal Camouflage Pattern. He slipped a line into the 2009 DoD Approps bill that forced the Army to evaluate their UCP pattern in Afghanistan, which had the effect of forcing the army to reconsider whether it should change their overall camo plans. This could be Murtha’s most enduring mark on the services.

Now look, my beloved readers, please let’s not use this as an opportunity to debate my selections. Let’s use this instead as a chance to help teach eachother more about what indelible marks Murtha has made on our defense establishment. I want to hear what you have to say.

– Christian

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{ 53 comments… read them below or add one }

WJS February 9, 2010 at 4:25 pm

You're in the media. Go ask Lt Col. Chessani what he thinks of Murtha.


Christian February 9, 2010 at 4:40 pm

I'm asking about programs and policies, not politics. No one has pursued Murtha more doggedly than I on the Haditha comments.


Wes February 9, 2010 at 4:35 pm

"I want to hear what you have to say."

No, you don't!


Christian February 9, 2010 at 4:38 pm

Yes I do!


Wes February 10, 2010 at 4:23 pm

He played politics with the Hadith Marine's lives to further his own goals.



yung.vet February 9, 2010 at 4:51 pm

I think Mr. Murtha was right on about all three of these policies. The v-22 is/was important to our nation's arsenal and that the general(s) that adopted the UCP were bat shit crazy and the DCUs were excelent. He was a marine that faithfully served his country in 2 (underline this number) wars, and that leaves his service above reproach. Our nation suffered a great loss when he died.


xxx February 9, 2010 at 4:56 pm

$100 Million, not Billion, to the Contras


Bob February 9, 2010 at 5:17 pm

But still and all he was just a human being like the rest of us. All I ever saw of him on news reports was a person who appeared he was MORE than just a human being — arrogant, crass, and more important than anyone.


Kurt February 9, 2010 at 5:21 pm

Aside from those "indelible marks" all of which were very important, I can't get past his involvement in Abscam. His service in two wars is noble and appreciated but what came after was a travesty. Text book example of how power corrupts.


yung.vet February 10, 2010 at 12:11 am

WOW.. he turned down the bribes in abscam-flat. he did mention somethng along the lines that the briber should invest his money into his congressional district so that laid off miners might be able to return to work.


bdwilcox February 9, 2010 at 5:37 pm

Christian, how about we list Benedict Arnold's great accomplishments and service to our country. After all, we couldn't have won the revolution without him, right? Except in the end, he betrayed his country and THAT is what he will, and always should be, remembered for.


DualityOfMan February 9, 2010 at 6:00 pm

Because criticizing the killing of civilians is the same as leading enemy troops. Riiiiiiiiight.


topV7051 February 9, 2010 at 6:33 pm

Because he jumped to brand fellow Marines guilty based on a magazine article based on evidence provided by an Iraqi with insurgent ties. None of the charges were true. If they had been, those men would have been held accountable, if not by court martial than by their peers. He provided aid and comfort to the enemy and legitimized their propaganda operation.


DualityOfMan February 9, 2010 at 11:16 pm

Oh, I'm sorry that I considered for a moment that America could do wrong. God bless the fatherland or whatever it is you say.


bdwilcox February 9, 2010 at 9:56 pm

Because he was a traitor who gave aid and comfort to the enemy during a time of war. He should have been hung along with Dick Durban, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Ted Kennedy, Joe Biden, Dennis Kucinich and the whole cadre of traitors currently residing in Congress who have done the same.

Look at our brave hero run. Ruuuunnn, Jack, ruuuuunnnn!!!


bdwilcox February 9, 2010 at 5:51 pm

Murtha, along with Ted Kennedy, may have escaped judgment for their treason in this life, but neither could escape death, could they? Rich or poor, powerful or weak, famous or nameless, death alone is the great equalizer amongst men.

A Poem for the Wicked
- by Brian Wilcox

He sees the things that others miss
That gold and silver thread
That winds about the precious jewel
That scorners mock instead

Their eyes are covered with deceit
Their hearts as cold as stone
Their love is dead, their mercy bleak
No marrow to their bone

They mock, they cry, they threaten forth
Their hate like bitter wine
Their poison spills into the street
On righteous blood they dine

But come what may in days ahead
What clouds may darken sky
Their destination always known
A righteous judge to try


Norm Watson February 10, 2010 at 12:49 am

I personally can not express my feelings. But this poem is exactly right on with the real truth of these men. I can't disrespect a person who has contributed some to America, but this poem sums it all up for both of these men.I appreciate this poem. Thanks


Dr. YSG February 9, 2010 at 1:12 pm

Most Evil is not done by people that set out to be bad. They may have the best of intentions. However, how can one balance a few programmatic successes against the huge PSYCHOLOGICAL and MORAL victory that was given to our enemies by distorting the picture of what America is and what American soldiers are.

This was a huge recruitment gain for the terrorists, and gave them the MORAL fuel to cause many many deaths..

We have to realize that giving aid and comfort to the enemy (and demoralizing the American public) is far more powerful a force for bad, than any military technology can compensate for.


DualityOfMan February 9, 2010 at 6:19 pm

Ah the irony… the Mujahideen fought against "Soviet oppression" but when the Afghans do *exactly* the same thing today, they are the oppressors and we are the liberators.

However, I do think that the reevaluation of the UCP and (to a lesser extent) the Osprey were good decisions.


bdwilcox February 9, 2010 at 9:59 pm

Because the Soviets wanted to give them freedom, free elections, and self-destiny.

You can put the script down now.


DualityOfMan February 9, 2010 at 10:44 pm

Because the only reason we're there is to give them freedom, free elections, and (most laughably) self-destiny. By the way, tell me when they get around to free elections.

We're fighting the same people, and those people feel like they're fighting the same people.


Mack February 10, 2010 at 2:28 am

Well, being a rather pragmatic Poli Sci major I would constitute an election in which there were more canidates than the local Communist party chieftain as rather free compared to what exsisted under the Soviet puppet regime and Taliban rule.


DualityOfMan February 13, 2010 at 1:18 am

I don't consider rigged elections with canceled runoffs to be free. Anyone can vote, but the outcome is fixed.

John Moore February 9, 2010 at 6:51 pm

30 years in office no one find that suspicious?


DaveD February 9, 2010 at 2:03 pm

Unfortunately the list of accomplishments may have ended early in his career while the disappointments grew toward the end. While no doubt a integral part of the committee, his work unfortunately exemplifies the serious ethics issues and power struggles that occur when you don't provide a transparent and level playing field for the military industrial complex. Whether I agreed with him or not on issues of policy, his work perpetuates the real or perceived corruption of the relationship between private and gov't enterprise.


Ryan February 9, 2010 at 7:05 pm

He was the 2008 Citizens Against Government Waste Porker of the Year.



Jordan2870 February 9, 2010 at 7:19 pm

This post deliberately focused on Murtha's legacy in the realm military technology and abstained from highlighting the controversial political elements of his career, after all this is defenseTECH. Comments excoriating (justifiably or not) him in the wake of his passing are inappropriate and it's unfortunate that there were only one or two answers to the actual question which was posed.


Walter February 9, 2010 at 7:38 pm

Sorry but as a PA resident I won't miss Murtha much. A blowhard, pork project, abscamer who managed to get everything in sight named after himself. Frankly it's sad that the seats are held by any one person that long. I think for a Dem though, he had a soft spot for DOD.


O'B. February 9, 2010 at 7:41 pm

The good men do is oft interred with them; the bad lives on forever.


WJS February 9, 2010 at 4:23 pm

I'm sure he was a great guy up until he turned his back on his service and slandered and maligned his own people. At that point he became a John Kerry copycat and a world class turd.


RG2u February 9, 2010 at 10:42 pm

Okay, I'll bite….just what is a "cricket dance"?


TMB February 9, 2010 at 11:20 pm

See the previous thread about Murtha from yesterday.


jsallison February 9, 2010 at 8:38 pm

He turned on his own, nuff said.


Mack February 10, 2010 at 2:32 am

I think Senator Murtha's lasting legacy will more than likely include his staunch support, regardless of his Democratic affiliation, with the average Soldier, Sailor, Marine, Airmen, and Coast Guardsman when it came to defense issues. Yes, the mess concerning his fellow Marines is rather distasteful and inherently political, but when you wear the civvie suit for years versuses a uniform, your opinion does become more shaded in my humbled opinion.


Warrior Spirit February 10, 2010 at 2:37 am

He should have been shot as a traitor for his remarks about Haditha, regardless of all previous "accomplishments". His service, and a few others in the congress, blatantly exposes the need for some type of senility testing for aged elected officials. Folks degrade in different ways as they age, and a blanket age restriction is NOT the answer…but some, like Murtha, definitely lost it in the later years and had/have no business in positions of authority.


yung.vet February 10, 2010 at 2:19 pm

wow. shot? i hope you enjoyed life under stalin. make you should reevaluate your comments about a man that loved his country every bit as much as you and proved it. if not then….(try to imagine some disrespectful comment and then insert it hear)


Sally February 10, 2010 at 2:43 am

two words: term limits


Arizona Mike February 10, 2010 at 3:44 am

Murtha was completely absolved of abscam. And by the way, he never said anything about Haditha that wasn't being said by Headquarters Marine Corps.

His best achievement was rescuing the Osprey. He should never have supported the Mujahadeen back in the 80s, but then Reagan and many others were also on that band wagon. As for uniforms, get real, acting as the fashion police does not equal influential.

Senator McCain took stolen money from Keating as a bribe but beat the rap due to sympathy for him as a former POW. That guy is a freaking traitor to the military and to America. He should have taken the honorable way out and put a 45 slug in his head.

Say whatever you want about Murtha. As I will be cursing McCain as a dishonorable scumbag on the day of his funeral. I hope to p1ss on his grave. And soon.


yung.vet February 10, 2010 at 2:21 pm

i agree with everything you said up to your comments on McCain.


Norm Watson February 10, 2010 at 4:42 am

The rule of Semper Fi I think General Mac words apply "You are remembered for the rules you break."
Douglas MacArthur


Sally February 10, 2010 at 2:44 am

and an admonition: don't speak ill of the dead. At least wait til the body's cold, for cryin' out loud.


Jeff February 10, 2010 at 6:02 am

As you stated, your blog, your selections. Just can't get over the flippant speech and accusations during a critical time in the Iraq War. Wildly irresponsible and purely political. God rest his soul.


Wembley February 10, 2010 at 11:04 am

Laying the groundwork for al qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan by fostsering militant Islam as a fighting force?…championing one of the most expensive and trouble-ridden aircraft ever seen??…and nice new uniforms??

I never thought you had such a dark sense of humor.


Christian February 10, 2010 at 1:54 pm

and there it is…took 37 comments before someone did exactly the OPPOSITE of what the intent of my post was.

Hmmmm, supporting a bunch of cave dwelling religious nuts to defeat a global imperial threat armed with THOUSANDS of ICBM/SLBM nuclear warheads, the world's largest land army and 50 years of anti-American agression? I'd say on balance, the risk of blowback was withing limits.

One of the most expensive and trouble ridden AC ever seen, really Wembley.

Oh, and go tell Joe his uniform which STICKS OUT LIKE A SORE THUMB is just a question of fashion sense…

take a deeeeep breath, bro, then squeeeeeze…


soonergrunt February 10, 2010 at 2:49 pm

You're the one who was caterwauling on and on about Murtha and the Haditha incident. Murtha only did what any congressman is supposed to do for his district, which is bring home the bacon. Because of him, there are industries there that wouldn't be there otherwise, but I guess that's just influence peddling. As if any of that had any but the most tangential connection to Defense technology. The whackjobs on this blog are following YOUR lead in the previous post and this one. It's a little late for you to wax nostalgic about the man and to bemoan the incivility.


Christian February 10, 2010 at 7:44 pm

So, where are your three top Murtha defense programs/policies again?


soonergrunt February 11, 2010 at 12:48 am

His early and enthusiastic support of elevating the Chief of the National Guard to 4-star status, his consistent support of the National Guard, both Air and Army, in getting modern equipment and increased training budgets as the Guard moved from a strategic reserve to an operational reserve are two that come to mind immediately. And while the Pennsylvania National Guard got the only reserve Stryker BCT largely because of him, there likely wouldn't even be a reserve Stryker BCT without him.
Just about anything that happened while he was chair of the committee, either from 1989-1995 or later from 2006 to his death had his imprint on it, good or bad.

yung.vet February 10, 2010 at 2:29 pm

militant islam (and BTW that IS what we are essentially fighting) had been around way before his support for the Mujahadeen. The V-22 may not be able to perform as well as a whirley bird when taking fire but it fits perfectley between a c-130/c-27 and a ch-53/ch-47. it was worth the development costs. and the ACU was one of th worst things the army ever issued. try blending in with that pattern. there is a reason NO ONE in the SF community wants that crap. you can thank the general in charge of it's development (who now makes over 200k a year at the very company that makes the ACU)of that horrible uniform for at least SOME of the casualties we have suffered


Mack February 10, 2010 at 3:58 pm

Y'all do realize that the losses the Soviets suffered in Afghanistan, partly due to the ability of the Mujahdeen to negate Soviet tac-air was one of the leading causes of the eyentual desengration of the Evil Empire, right? I would say it was a battle well fought and necessary to fought. We bled them dry in the mountains of Afghanistan through the use of proxies as did they in the jungles of Vietnam.


MUTT93 February 10, 2010 at 5:57 pm

Just because somebody spends a bunch of defense money, does not make that person a supporter of the troops, just another pork-spending politician.

I feel for his family's loss, but the congress will be no worse without him. The Marine Corps will certainly be better off without his disdain, hatred, and stupidity.


Chatoplay February 11, 2010 at 1:21 am

He said Iraq was lost… that doesn't make him bad; just wrong.


yung.vet February 12, 2010 at 9:26 pm

AMEN!!!! Everything you just said about the Guard was awesome. In times of war the guard gets called on to do the same thing active does and gets the shaft in the mean time. The national guard deserves to be able to train to standard as well as recieve the same comendation as thier active duty counterparts.


bdwilcox March 13, 2010 at 6:41 am

So, Aaron, how long have you been a member of the Benedict Arnold fan club?


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