Could Attitudes Concerning John Murtha Be Changing?

Cracks in the positive media spin of Democrat Anti-War spokesman Representative John Murtha have started to appear in a number of places, including mainstream and online news outlets.

There are sources, however, such as the Independent Media Center that maintain the anti-war stance of most reporting entities. In its “The Corner” editorial column on January 14, IMC praised the meeting between the leadership of anti American “Code Pink” activists, Representatives Jim Moran (D-VA) and John Murtha (D-PA)

Code Pink, which has given financial support to terrorists and called upon American soldiers to kill their leaders, is also known for displaying protest signs at the funerals of fallen American heroes. At this meeting they gave Murtha a “pink badge of courage” and thanked him for his courageous stand on Iraq. The leadership also said, “They will be working with Representative Murtha to deliver kindness and support to the wounded soldiers.”

As reported in the Independent Media Center account, “A minority of pro war voices, along with many varying degrees of protest and criticism of the Bush administration were heard from the audience questioning the Democratic congressmen, both known for their support of the military...”

A more important Murtha/Moran story would be the dressing down these congressmen took from a soldier recently returned from Afghanistan. Sergeant Mark Seavey served there until last month as an infantry squad leader.

As reported by columnist Michelle Malkin, the soldier confronted Democrat Reps Jim Moran and John Murtha at a town hall meeting in Arlington, Virginia. She reports his comments left them speechless when he talked about their actions hurting the troops. He also asked them where they were getting their information about morale issues, finishing his statement saying, “If I didn’t have a herniated disc now I would volunteer to go to Iraq in a second with my troops, three of which have already volunteered to go to Iraq. I keep hearing you say you talk to the troops and the troops are demoralized, and I really resent that characteration. The morale of the troops I talk to is phenomenal...” He concluded saying, “I don’t know who you two are talking to but the morale of the troops is very high.”

Others are also starting to question Murtha, and making it into print or online with their comments. Cybercast News Service ran a column on January 13 questioning the war hero status of the congressman. It reports that Murtha’s accounts of his war wounds “may also conflict with the available U.S. Marine medical records obtained by the media.” The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has reported that casualty records show Murtha was injured in hostile actions near Danang, Vietnam on March 22 and May 7, 1967. “In the first incident, his right cheek was lacerated, and in the second, he was lacerated above the left eye. Neither injury required evacuation,” the Post-Gazette reported.

However, Murtha has given a number of different accounts about how he was wounded. He claims to have been “wounded in the arm with shrapnel”... “My knee and my arm were banged up when a helicopter was shot down”... He was “struck in the ankle by a shot that ricocheted off a helicopter”.

One source, a World War II veteran Harry M. Fox, who worked for Representative John Saylor (R-PA) in 1968 has claimed Murtha personally asked the congressman for assistance in obtaining the Purple Hearts, but was turned down because Saylor’s office found there was not sufficient evidence of wounds.

Another person questioning Murtha’s account of his wounds is a former Democratic congressional colleague and decorated Vietnam veteran Don Bailey of Pennsylvania. He alleges that during a conversation on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, Murtha told him he did not deserve his Purple Hearts. “Murtha is putting himself forward as some combat veteran with serious wounds and he’s using that and it’s dishonest and wrong,” said Bailey

Murtha has publicly dismissed these charges saying he never asked for his medals and he is proud of his service in Vietnam. Still, it has been noted that like Democrat John Kerry, he has refused to release his military medical records.

The New York Post online edition has carried a scathing column by Kieran Lalor titled “Murtha The Turncoat”. The column notes, “Thirty- seven years in the Marine Corps (reserve) should have taught Murtha that our military has historically been and continues to be the world’s greatest meritocracy. No other institution has allowed people to climb the ranks and reach their potential regardless of their socioeconomic status like the U.S. Military.

In another paragraph the columnist reflects, “Why would Murtha not want to be part of a military that in the past four years has liberated 50 million souls and heroically brought aid to tsunami and earthquake victims, saving untold lives? Surely he knows that all was chaos in New Orleans in the wake of Katrina until General Russell Honore’s 1st Army and 82nd Airborne came to town and provided relief and a security presence.

David Bellavia, a former Army Staff Sergeant who served with the 1st Infantry Division wrote in a WorldNetDaily article of December 16, 2005 about how he holds John Murtha in distain. Bellavia, who has been recommended for the Medal of Honor and Distinguished Service Cross, has already received the Silver Star and the Bronze Star. He says, “As the debris continues to settle from the explosion detonated by Representative John Murtha’s continued rapid fire defeatist comments this past week, I wonder how he expected his statements to be perceived. As an infantryman whose boots are still caked with blood and dust from Iraq, I am beyond confused....”

He ends his article saying “As my peers continue to bleed for acceptance from a growingly cynical media, it must be stated: We are not ‘broken’, we have never ‘terrorized Iraqis in their homes’ and we are most certainly not ‘living hand to mouth’. Each day, the Iraqi War veteran grows closer to the embarrassing disrespect of the Vietnam warrior. Each day, legislators like Rep. Murtha move us closer to losing a winnable war and abandoning a worthy ally.”

Former combat correspondent, author and retired Marine Charles W. Henderson has written “my only common ground with Murtha is that we both care greatly for our individual soldiers, sailors, coastguardsmen, airmen and Marines, and we place each of their lives at extremely high value. I do not believe that such value is shared by most people in foggy bottom, and that may give fuel to Murtha’s ranting. However, I see more political motivation coming from the veteran reserve Marine than one of genuine concern for our troops. He is in lockstep with the Democrat agenda and using his Marine Corps and veteran ties as a shield to say the same things that the DNC and leadership have said for awhile.”

Individual members of the military community are also writing and letting their feelings be known. Colonel Robert Geasland of Waynesville, North Carolina calls Murtha “Another cop-out artist who attempts to portray himself as a ‘hero’ with long service. What it boils down to is that he went to the Reservist trough and collected bucks for little duty.” He also wrote that reservists called up for the first Gulf action were not prepared and required extensive re- training. He concludes saying “Murtha falls into that category...a miserable cut and run Democrat in need of re-training.”

Colonel Bob Pappas, another retired Marine calls Murtha “a fair weather Reservist who during his years of reserve service evidentially wasn’t called on to do much, has now in consummate Democrat style stepped to the plate in a statement designed to ‘discourage’ parents from letting their children enlist and as far as this writer is concerned that is about as low as a politician can stoop.”

Dan Decker, a retired Air force Technical Sergeant from Kerrville, Texas writes, “It is sad to see a vet like Murtha sell out in exchange for political gain. But, perhaps it isn’t so surprising; we’ve had military traitors from the very beginning. I’m thinking of Benedict Arnold. I guess we can add John Murtha to that list.”

Even the Marine Corps League members are making their feelings known. In a survey taken of several hundred of these former Marines, the vote was 50 to 1 in support of recommending the League speak out and officially condemn Murtha for his statements.

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine General Peter Pace has now commented on the Murtha anti-war rhetoric. His words have been carried by many of the mainstream media. Says General Pace concerning John Murtha’s statement, “It’s damaging to recruiting; it’s damaging to the morale of the troops who are deployed; and it’s damaging to the morale of their families who believe in what they’re doing to serve this country.”

The general also noted, “We have almost 300 million Americans who are being protected by 2.4 million volunteer active, Guard and reserve members, and we must recruit to that force.”

When the Democrats found Murtha to be their anti-war poster boy, the feeling was he would be immune to any criticism. That may have been true in November. January came in with a much different tone in the air.