Last Updated:November 29 @ 05:55 pm

Navy to name warship for Murtha despite protests

By Andrew Miga

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Navy says it is forging ahead with its decision to name a warship for the late Rep. John Murtha, despite protests the decorated Vietnam War veteran was disloyal in his 2006 accusation that Marines had murdered Iraqi civilians.

Three Facebook sites opposing the Navy's April 2010 decision bristle with thousands of angry postings. The Navy website with the announcement drew critical comments. The Washington Times voiced its outrage in an editorial entitled "Sink the Murtha."

But the Navy says it is standing firm.

A spokeswoman for Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said he is sticking with his decision to name a warship for the Pennsylvania Democrat. Murtha, a retired Marine Reserves colonel and powerful former chairman of a House defense appropriations panel, died in February 2010 at age 77.

"The Secretary believes that the naming ... honors Congressman Murtha's lifetime of service to the Marine Corps, in Congress and to our nation," Capt. Beci Brenton said in an e-mail. "That the Congressman's unwavering support of our Sailors and Marines, and in particular our wounded warriors, was well known and deeply appreciated. That he was a champion of the men and women of the naval services. The Secretary does not intend to change the name."

A Murtha family spokesman, Matt Mazonkey, said the "family is humbled by the Navy's decision to recognize and honor Chairman Murtha's tireless work on behalf of our nation's servicemembers and their families."

The USS John P. Murtha will be an amphibious transport vessel able to carry 700 Marines, their equipment and supplies. Construction on the ship has not yet begun, said Brenton.

Murtha was a strong advocate on Capitol Hill for military personnel and a powerful inside player on congressional appropriations. He was accused of trading government funding promises for campaign donations, but the ethics probe was dropped in December 2009.

Murtha was an officer in the Marine Reserves in 1974 when he became the first Vietnam War combat veteran elected to Congress.

But despite his deep military ties, Murtha infuriated conservatives as an outspoken and influential opponent of the Iraq war. That anger was further stoked in 2006 when he accused a squad of Marines of murdering Iraqi civilians "in cold blood" at Haditha.

Critics viewed Murtha's comments as disloyal because he denounced the Marines before any investigation was concluded and the facts were known.

"Name a ship after a congressman who disgraced himself by rushing to judge that fellow Marines had committed murder in Iraq?" said Thomas Wilkerson, a retired Marine major general. "Can you be serious?"

Wilkerson is chief executive officer of the U.S. Naval Institute, a private, non-profit professional association

Robert Spring, who served in the Coast Guard for 20 years, is behind the "People Against Naming a Navy Ship USS Murtha" Facebook page that boasts more than 9,700 members and angry comments from people denouncing Murtha.

"He blew his honor and integrity out of the water on that one," Spring, of Westminster, Md., said of Murtha's remarks about Hidatha. "It is just to me unfathomable."

At a Capitol Hill news conference in May 2006, Murtha predicted that a Pentagon war crimes investigation would show the Marines killed dozens of innocent Iraqi civilians in Haditha.

Eight Marines were initially charged with murder or failing to investigate the killings of 24 Iraqis by a Marine squad in Haditha. Only one still faces charges.

Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich of Meriden, Conn. was accused of leading his men on a rampage in November 2005 that killed two dozen civilians after a roadside bomb killed a Marine. He was initially charged with unpremeditated murder in 18 deaths, but the charges were later reduced to voluntary manslaughter in nine of the 24 deaths, dereliction of duty and other crimes.

Six others had charges dismissed or withdrawn, and one was acquitted.

Wuterich has pleaded not guilty to all the charges and has said he regretted the loss of civilian lives but believed he was operating within military combat rules when he ordered his men to attack.

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  1. Srini VaradarajanComment by Srini Varadarajan
    March 2, 2011 @ 10:13 am

    How stupid of them to name it after “Mr. Abscam” (the man was video’ed DEMANDING a higher bribe!).  One way of salvage however–that ship could be designated as a waste-carrier (rather than a troop-transport; how apt, given that Murtha was one of the most-wasteful Congressmen ever)!

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  2. BabylonandonComment by Babylonandon
    March 2, 2011 @ 12:35 pm

    No matter the actual quality of his or her service…I’ll bet they name one after the first openly gay admiral or general, too.

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  3. EdwardComment by Edward
    March 2, 2011 @ 12:50 pm

    I wonder if they’ll man it with an all Gay crew. That would be appropriate. And it would keep the “honor” of Murtha where it belongs.
    (I wonder if Marines will be offered the opportunity to “opt out” if they are assigned to the “USS Murtha”. I highly doubt it, though. I imagine it will be rather difficult to find a Gay Marine to serve on it.)

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  4. BillzillaComment by Billzilla
    March 2, 2011 @ 1:20 pm

    Murtha served his country as a marine, but he served himself as a congressman.

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  5. lowlifeComment by lowlife
    March 2, 2011 @ 3:02 pm

    Another example of how the military has become corrupted by politics in the last couple decades. Too many leftist bureaucrats and spineless “political” admirals and generals, who got their rank by sucking up to politicians and failing to stand up for the good of the country and the service.

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  6. Liberty4310Comment by Liberty4310
    March 2, 2011 @ 3:14 pm

    If he had been a baseball player, no matter how good his overall record was, he would have been rejected from the hall of fame for an equivalent act during his final year.  Murpha forfeited his right to be so honored.

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  7. librabobComment by librabob
    March 2, 2011 @ 3:49 pm

    After Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize without having done anything to deserve it, nothing shocks me. Liberals love giving each other awards and recognition, no matter how phony it is. I guess they believe it lends credibility to their progressive agenda. Naming a naval vessel after Murtha is an insult to all who serve or have served this country during wartime. Why not name one after, you know… “This War is Lost” Harry Reid once he croaks!

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  8. The SentinelComment by The Sentinel
    March 3, 2011 @ 7:41 am

    Wow, the sailors will get to ship out on a mutha.

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  9. allfor1and1forallComment by allfor1and1forall
    March 3, 2011 @ 10:17 am

    SecNav Mabus should be reminded that this is OUR ship, not his ship.  That it’s OUR Navy, not his Navy.  I found the various press releases and statements to be arrogant and condescending.  Typical ruling class snottiness from a political appointee.

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  10. MichaellabordeComment by Michaellaborde
    March 3, 2011 @ 10:34 am

    Sorry, but a Murtha ship. How incredulous. A crook of a ship. Remember, “I am not a crook?” Only in America.

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  11. lancethrusterComment by lancethruster
    March 22, 2011 @ 5:51 pm

    If pretend veteran Reagan can have a ship, then Murtha is easily deserving of one.
    My friend’s son Adam (also my good friend) was with Marines 1/5 for the fall of Baghdad. He was written up in the book, “A Table in the Presence” by Lt. Carey H. Cash (not by name but in the description of his meritorious commendation – see: )
    When Adam returned home I asked him about his combat experiences in Iraq. The FIRST words out of his mouth were, “We killed people for no reason” (If you do a dogpile[dot]com search for “LanceThruster” and “We killed people for no reason” you’ll find greater detail on this account).
    He is now suffering from PTSD (which the VA is providing ZERO treatment for).

    Sadly, Murtha spoke the truth in the big picture if not specifically in regards to the case he commented on prematurely (as no official finding had been made – he would have been better to have qualified the statement). I wonder if you’d all use the same vitriol in commenting on Randy “Duke” Cunningham.

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