Former sailors, soldiers and Marines are expressing outrage at Navy Secretary Ray Mabus’s decision to name a naval warship after recently deceased Pennsylvania Democratic Congressman John Murtha.
The opposition is largely a function of Murtha’s actions and comments during his final years. Murtha became known as one of the most vocal opponents of the war in Iraq — despite voting in 2002 for the resolution that authorized the use of force against Saddam Hussein. In 2005 he declared the war unwinnable, and pushed a resolution to get the troops out of the country.
“The U.S. cannot accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily,” he said. “It is time to bring them home.”
Murtha angered many again in 2006 when he accused eight Marines of deliberately killing Iraqi civilians in Haditha “in cold blood.” As of today, charges against six of the Marines accused have been dropped, one acquitted, and a court martial for the sole remaining defendant has been postponed.
A scathing Washington Times editorial pointed to Murtha’s demonization of the Haditha Marines as one of the primary reasons for the warship outrage.
“The late Rep. John Murtha, Pennsylvania Democrat, has achieved his highest undeserved honor … This is a slap in the face to every service member who bridled when Murtha publicly accused Marines in Iraq of intentionally killing women and children in cold blood,” the Times wrote.
While some have questioned his devotion to the troops, others point to Murtha’s own service in Vietnam, where he won two purple hearts and a bronze star, as a good reason for the honor.
“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,” Mabus said in the weeks following Murtha’s death.
As the naming has roiled many in uniform, Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North told The Daily Caller there is good reason for the outrage, not just because of Murtha’s perceived hostility to those in uniform, but also the unsavory activities in which he was alleged to have been engaged.
“Without besmirching what ever else he did in life, [Murtha] was under investigation at the time he died, he was an unindicted co-conspirator in ABSCAM, and doesn’t deserve a place where many other ships, not most necessarily, have been named after Medal of Honor winners,” North said.
With that in mind North suggests a more suitable candidate’s name: Medal of Honor winner Staff Sargent Robert Miller.
“If somebody had asked me … who would be a good person to name the ship after … if they didn’t want to name it after an active duty Marine that had done something phenomenal in this war then … they should have named it after Staff Sargent Robert Miller.”
Miller was killed in combat in 2008, while taking heavy fire to protect his two dozen Operational Detachment Alpha teammates against nearly 150 insurgents in a remote area of Afghanistan.
On the Navy’s website, the announcement that the ship would bear Murtha’s name has been met with entirely negative comments. Old NFO from USA vented his anger.
“As a retired Naval officer, I consider this an insult to the currently serving Navy and Marine Corps Officers, men and women. Murtha, by his own actions, had demonstrated his LACK of support for the military and I believe this is a totally political action that will have negative consequences if this is allowed to go through …” Old NFO wrote, demonstrating the tenor of the commentators.
The ship slated to receive the late congressman’s name reportedly will carry 700 of the “cold-blooded killers” Murtha dismissed.