Murtha, 77, was Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense.
Murtha was first elected to the US House of Representatives in 1974. He spent the majority of his life in service of his country through his service in the Marines and in Congress. He was the first Vietnam War combat Veteran to be elected to the US. Congress.
This past Saturday, February 6, 2010, Murtha became Pennsylvania’s longest serving Member of Congress.
A bio on Congressman Murtha is available on his official website.
He was revered by Republicans and Democrats alike for his skill and ability to maintain his position in Congress for 19 terms. He was Nancy Pelosi's right hand-man and was considered one of the most influential people still standing on Capitol Hill. Some say he was the architect behind Pelosi's rise through the Democratic ranks.
Congressman Murtha was also known as the "King of Pork". Political cartoons characterized him in hoggish fashion wielding huge military contracts here and there with a swipe of his pen. He had been on the Hill long enough to know how to control the political machine enough to give him the upper hand in many dealings. He was a mentor to many and an idol to others. He was not liked by everyone, but he had respect from many on both sides of the isles of the 435-member U.S. House of Representatives.
Congressman Murtha’s countless honors include the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award; the National Breast Cancer Coalition Leadership Award; Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry's Government Leader of the Year; Pittsburgh's Riverperson of the Year; the Congressional Medal of Honor Society's National Patriots Award; and Pennsylvania's two highest honors, the Distinguished Service Medal and the Meritorious Service Medal.
President Obama released the following statement on the White House web site:
Michelle and I were deeply saddened today to hear about the passing of Congressman John Murtha. Jack was a devoted husband, a loving father and a steadfast advocate for the people of Pennsylvania for nearly 40 years. His passion for service was born during his decorated career in the United States Marine Corps, and he went on to earn the distinction of being the first Vietnam War combat veteran elected to Congress. Jack's tough-as-nails reputation carried over to Congress, where he became a respected voice on issues of national security. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife of nearly 55 years, Joyce, their three children, and the entire Murtha family.
The Presidents post can be read here.
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