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Murtha's War Hero Status Called Into Question ^ | 1/13/05 | By Marc Morano and Randy Hall

Posted on 01/13/2006 11:53:53 AM PST by paltz

( - Having ascended to the national stage as one of the most vocal critics of President Bush's handling of the war in Iraq, Pennsylvania Democratic Congressman John Murtha has long downplayed the controversy and the bitterness surrounding the two Purple Hearts he was awarded for military service in Vietnam.

Murtha is a retired marine and was the first Vietnam combat veteran elected to Congress. Since 1967, there have been at least three different accounts of the injuries that purportedly earned Murtha his Purple Hearts. Those accounts also appear to conflict with the limited military records that are available, and Murtha has thus far refused to release his own military records.

A Cybercast News Service investigation also reveals that one of Murtha's former Democratic congressional colleagues and a fellow decorated Vietnam veteran, Don Bailey of Pennsylvania, alleges that Murtha admitted during an emotional conversation on the floor of the U.S. House in the early 1980s that 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 it's wrong," Bailey told Cybercast News Service on Jan. 9. Murtha served in the Marines on active duty and in the reserves from 1952 until his retirement as a colonel in 1990. He volunteered for service in Vietnam and was a First Marine Regiment intelligence officer in 1966 and 1967.

Murtha and Bailey, once allies, were forced to run against each other in a Democratic congressional primary in 1982 following redistricting. Murtha won the election.

Murtha has, in the past, publicly dismissed any questions about whether he deserved his two Purple Hearts, noting during his 1994 congressional campaign that "I am proud of my service in Vietnam."

In his Friday, Jan. 13, response to the Cybercast News Service investigation, Murtha again defended his military record.

"Questions about my record are clearly an attempt to distract attention from the real issue, which is that our brave men and women in uniform are dying and being injured every day in the middle of a civil war that can be resolved only by the Iraqis themselves," Murtha wrote in an email response.

"I volunteered for a year's duty in Vietnam. I was out in the field almost every single day. We took heavy casualties in my regiment the year that I was there. In my fitness reports, I was rated No. 1. My record is clear," Murtha added.

However, another source, World War II Navy veteran Harry M. Fox, previously indicated that Murtha in 1968 personally asked Fox's boss, then-U.S. Rep. John Saylor (R-Pa.), for assistance in obtaining the Purple Hearts, but was turned down because Saylor's office determined that Murtha lacked sufficient evidence of wounds. Murtha later challenged Saylor for his House seat in 1968 and lost. Fox said he personally viewed Murtha's military records in 1968 as Saylor's aide.

When Saylor died in 1973, Fox attempted to succeed his boss in Congress, but was narrowly defeated by Murtha in a 1974 special election.

"Pretending to be a big war hero and boasting about having medals is a slap in the face to our veterans who were seriously wounded or killed in action," Fox was quoted as telling the Uniontown Herald-Standard in the newspaper's Nov. 1, 1996 edition. "He campaigned as a war hero and I've never seen any documentation that he earned any of these honors," Fox reportedly stated.

On Friday, Jan. 13, Murtha's congressional communications director provided Cybercast News Service with a copy of a letter from the commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, citing Murtha's request of Sept. 26, 1967, seeking Purple Hearts. Cybercast News Service did not authenticate the letter.

"The records of this Headquarters show that you are entitled to the Purple Heart and a Gold Star in lieu of a second Purple Heart for wounds received in action against insurgent Communist Guerrilla forces on 22 March and 7 May 1967 in the Republic of Vietnam," according to the letter signed by an individual identified only as A. Gardoni. Gardoni's title is not listed on the letter.

Cybercast News Service attempted to contact Fox for this article, but learned that the health of the 81-year-old was too poor to allow him to communicate. But in a 1996 newspaper article, Fox questioned whether Murtha deserved his Purple Hearts, alleging that there was insufficient evidence of injuries and that Murtha was never confined to a hospital.

"Of course Congressman Saylor wanted to help if he could, but there was nothing in the service record to indicate the wounds were of any severity and the documents specifically indicated that next of kin was not notified in either instance," Fox told the Herald-Standard in 1996. "We were amazed that Mr. Murtha was asking for Purple Hearts for superficial lacerations," he added.

Murtha's accounts of his Vietnam War wounds may also conflict with the available U.S. Marine medical records obtained by the media.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on May 12, 2002, reported that "Marine Corps casualty records show that Murtha was injured in 'hostile' actions near Danang, Vietnam, on March 22, 1967, and May 7, 1967.

"In the first incident, his right cheek was lacerated, and in the second, he was lacerated above his left eye. Neither injury required evacuation," the Post-Gazette reported.

But an Oct. 26, 1994, article in the Herald-Standard quoted Murtha as describing two different injuries.

"I was wounded in the arm with shrapnel from a bullet that hit the motor mount of a helicopter. In the other, my knee was banged up and my arm was banged up when a helicopter was shot down from a very few feet," Murtha told the Herald-Standard.

A June 1, 1967 report in the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat quoted a letter that the newspaper indicated was sent by Murtha to his wife that same year. The letter apparently detailed yet another version of how Murtha qualified for one of his Purple Hearts. According to the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat, Murtha's injuries involved his being "struck in the ankle" by a "shot that ricocheted off the helicopter."

Murtha, a 16-term congressman from southwestern Pennsylvania and the senior Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, drew national attention on Nov. 17, 2005, when he called for an immediate withdrawal of American forces from Iraq.

The Vietnam veteran even took a swipe at President Bush and Vice President Cheney, neither of whom have actual combat experience.

"I like guys who've never been there, who criticize us who've been there," Murtha said. "I like that. I like guys who got five deferments and never been there and sent people to war and then don't like to hear suggestions that what may need to be done."

Murtha discussed his own combat experience as a marine intelligence officer in his 2004 autobiography, "From Vietnam to 9/11: On the Front Lines of National Security."

"I had been awake more than twenty-four hours by the time we landed. A few hours into the battle, an on-again-off-again event, I could no longer keep my eyes open. I curled up next to a bunker and fell into a deep sleep for about an hour. Even the noise of frequent gunfire didn't wake me up. (One of my fellow officers told me the next morning that when he hadn't seen me for an hour or so, he assumed I was dead,)" Murtha wrote of one of his Vietnam combat experiences on page 14 of the 2004 paperback edition of his book. Murtha's two Purple Hearts are referenced on the back of the book.

In addition to his Purple Hearts, Murtha received the Vietnamese Cross for Gallantry and the Bronze Star with combat "V" for service in the 1st Marine Division in Vietnam. Murtha also served in the Marines during the Korean War but did not serve in Korea, according to his book.

'He's a phony and a liar'

Bailey said during the time Murtha was being investigated for his role in the Abscam FBI sting in 1980, Murtha made a confession on the House floor.

... you admitted, back in our corner, that you didn't earn your purple hearts (sic) (you indicated you had small scratch on your cheek that wasn't even directly related to an APC [Armored Personnel Carrier] that ran over a small antipersonnel mine that was behind you). The other purple heart [sic] you even declined to explain," wrote Bailey in an open letter dated May 5, 2002.

Bailey is also a decorated Vietnam combat veteran. He served in the U.S. Army's 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions and was awarded a Silver Star and three Bronze Stars.

"At the time (of Murtha's alleged admission), you were feeling particularly vulnerable because it wasn't too long after you had called me crying and sobbing, thanking me for 'saving your life' before the ethics committee (on Abscam-related charges). There was no doubt in my mind that you were expressing to me that you did not believe you did anything sufficient to earn the purple heart [sic] and that you didn't want to be active in my efforts to laud Vietnam veterans that served with us," Bailey wrote in his May 2002 letter.

"You may deny that all you wish -- but you and I know that that conversation took place," he added.

In the Jan. 9 interview with Cybercast News Service Bailey affirmed the contents of his 2002 letter.

"The issue here is this idea or pretense that [Murtha] knows combat and he's got two Purple Hearts. He's a phony and a liar," Bailey said.

Bailey also questioned why Murtha has thus far declined to release his full military records in order to clear up the controversy.

"The Marine Corps ought to be able to produce all the orders, the medical stuff, the citations and the orders granting [the Purple Hearts] and everything else. Where is that stuff?" he asked.

According to a May 16, 2002, edition of the Washington, Pa., Observer-Reporter, Murtha "produced military paperwork indicating he was entitled to the awards," and a Murtha spokesperson was quoted as saying that "the media for years has investigated 'and found nothing.'"

But Murtha's paperwork did nothing to sway Bailey's opinion.

"You may fool a few reporters into believing that merely because you got some perfunctory paperwork made out by a friend, that that means you earned the purple hearts [sic]. But even if you were awarded the medals later, there should be affidavits from witnesses. These things should be easy to get," Bailey wrote in his letter while demanding an apology from Murtha for questioning his credibility.

Murtha could end the controversy at any time, Bailey added, simply by calling a press conference and producing the evidence of his wounds.

"Explain where you were and what you were doing when you got the purple hearts.[sic] Explain who was with you and treated your wounds, but most important, Jack, describe your wounds or the lack thereof, as you did for me, years ago," Bailey wrote.

"Unless the Marine Corps gives out medals for unsubstantiated noncombat-related telltale scratches, procured for use in political campaign -- then show me the money, Jack," Bailey added.

Murtha: 'I'm proud of my service in Vietnam'

During the 1994 congressional campaign against GOP opponent Dr. William Choby, Murtha's two Purple Hearts became a political issue.

"Explain your Purple Hearts. He (Murtha) used them to get elected," Choby charged in 1994.

In responding to the charges, Murtha claimed that he "didn't ask for the Purple Hearts.

"I'm proud of my service in Vietnam. I don't know if he (Choby) served in the service at all. I left my family and my business to serve in Vietnam. My family made great sacrifice for me to make that service in Vietnam, so I'm very proud of that," he told the Uniontown Herald-Standard in the newspaper's Oct. 26, 1994 edition.

"I am disappointed that a guy (Choby) would say something like that when I volunteered in the reserves and I felt it was important that I go. What's the point in all this? It's irritating," Murtha added.

Choby also challenged the validity of Murtha's Bronze Star with Combat 'V' during the 1996 congressional campaign.

"I find it very curious that Combat 'V' doesn't even exist in any of the materials he had distributed," Choby was quoted as saying in the Herald-Standard of Oct. 13, 1996. "His military record improves over the years," he added.

The Murtha controversy is reminiscent of the flap surrounding the war record of 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry. But while critics like the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth attacked Kerry in 2004 because of his anti-war activism of the 1970s, Murtha's three chief accusers all made their allegations years and in some cases decades before Murtha emerged last November as a prominent anti-war activist.

Choby told Cybercast News Service on Jan. 5 that Murtha's entire political career is based on his war record. "Without that credibility of those combat medals, he would have never been elected to office," Choby said.

(Monisha Bansal also contributed to this article.)

Read Article About Murtha's Links to Abscam

TOPICS: Breaking News; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: 109th; abscam; anotherpurpleowie; cnsnews; exmarine; foundkerrysmedals; liar; murtha; murthamedals; phony; phonyandaliar; purpleheart; purplehearts
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To: GSWarrior

He went there , no one else is responsible for these questions but HIM.

181 posted on 01/13/2006 3:10:22 PM PST by marty60
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To: usmcobra

In the Air Force it's called a tombstone promotion. One of my old bosses got one.

182 posted on 01/13/2006 3:13:32 PM PST by JCEccles
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To: paltz

It's amazing how many Repubs including Freepers want to sweep a DemonRAT's lies and attempts to paint himself as some sort of war hero under the carpet and fail to hold them accountable for their lies & distortions. War heroes generally do not have to talk up their own valor, unlike Murtha and Kerry. Neither one of the them qualified for their medals and I wish that Repubs would make a big stink out their lies, the way that the DimWits would do. Certainly the left-wing partisan media would never hold the DimWits accountable. It is sad to see Repubs who fail to challenge and make an issue of the fact that DimWits will use any means (including bald face lies over their service records) to get elected. Once they're in, then they play the part of wounded loyal Americans who are having their valor & patriotism questioned. It needs to be questioned if they're lying about it. You can bet the left-wing media searched every dotted i and crossed t of President Bush's record trying to find something, anything to take him down.

183 posted on 01/13/2006 3:14:09 PM PST by rcrngroup
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To: A.A. Cunningham
could probably locate his service number ...

When I was discharged, I was instructed to record my DD214 with the County Clerk in my home county.

It is recorded there and anyone can get a copy of it just by asking. It is a public record.

You must also provide it to the Social Security when you retire.

184 posted on 01/13/2006 3:16:45 PM PST by Dan(9698)
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To: paltz
turned down because Saylor's office determined that Murtha lacked sufficient evidence of wounds

Another Purple Heart wound didn't break the skin?

185 posted on 01/13/2006 3:17:23 PM PST by Mr. Brightside
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To: kellynla

"Is this a wise place to go?"

These "war heroes" put their "combat service" out in front and rode that reputation into Congress for decades.

Any Marine worth his salt would be proud to have the world see their war record. I AM!

Semper Fi,

My thoughts exactly, kelly. He's the one that brought up the "chickenhawk" slur against those who didn't serve (when we first heard of him), particularly slurring VP Cheney and his "five deferments"...

(Didn't say anything about John Kerry's FOUR deferments...)

186 posted on 01/13/2006 3:19:10 PM PST by Christian4Bush (Over THREE THOUSAND PEOPLE lost their 'civil liberties' on September 11, 2001.)
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To: Jimmy Valentine's brother
Distinguished Service Medal, Pennsylvania's highest honor, 1977.

Meritorious Service Medal, Pennsylvania's second-highest honor, 1976.

If he was a Marine Rustiest all those years, how can he be getting official military awards from Pennsylvania. If he had been Army or Air National Guard, yeh, they have some state level awards, but AFAIK, the states don't give Awards and Decs to reservists. It's only fairly recently that some states give preferential tuition and such to reservists as opposed to guardsmen from their own states. I was a reservist in a state that only gave them to guardsmen, of course that was in the dark ages, but it's also when Murtha would have been serving in the reserves a few years after his Vietnam tour.

187 posted on 01/13/2006 3:19:17 PM PST by El Gato (The Second Amendment is the Reset Button of the U.S. Constitution)
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To: paltz
Over the years, I've found that the real heroes' don't often talk about their war experiences, but re-live it only in the company of old comrades who were there with him!

Those real heroes are the one's to be honored; not the puffery ones who need the public acceptance of their service.

Perhaps it's time that Kerry and Murtha drop "trou", and compare the severity of their skin lesion's to decide who is a better "war hero"!
188 posted on 01/13/2006 3:20:34 PM PST by aShepard
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To: bnelson44
Trying to find fault in someone's war service is not honorable.

But then again, neither is falsifying the record of that service.

189 posted on 01/13/2006 3:21:46 PM PST by El Gato (The Second Amendment is the Reset Button of the U.S. Constitution)
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To: paltz

I'm honestly not a fan of calling someone's military service into question, unless it is John Kerry of course ;)

190 posted on 01/13/2006 3:21:51 PM PST by RushCrush (Liberals have low self esteem.)
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To: No Surrender No Retreat
His is a phoney like Kerry and just because of his rank and branch does not eliminate him from being a liar/fraud

IIRC, His rank was mostly received after he was a national level politician. Doesn't mean much.

191 posted on 01/13/2006 3:24:51 PM PST by El Gato (The Second Amendment is the Reset Button of the U.S. Constitution)
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Comment #192 Removed by Moderator

To: paltz

After meeting with Code Pinko it should be.

193 posted on 01/13/2006 3:29:46 PM PST by Republican Wildcat
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To: usmcobra

"but now I see from this thread that there exists a cadre of these Move On Freeper types"

Look for the ones who attack me, instead of hanoi kerry,
like I really care what these hypocrites think. LOL

They hate that I'm a lifelong Independent Voter
and an outspoken Viet Nam Vet.

Look for the ones who condone a traitor in the US Senate
and never back any movement to uphold the law of the land.

Honorable Viet Nam Vet's
ALWAYS do what's best for their country,
including calling for the outing a of traitor
in the US Senate.

Honorable Viet Nam Vet's
do what's needed to protect President Bush
from attacks from the traitor and his followers.

There is no need to impeach Hanoi Kerry from the US Senate

He is there illegally!


For those who "forgot" what Hanoi Kerry
did in the past read on and learn the truth.

Hanoi Kerry was still a USNR officer while he:
gave false hearsay testimony to Congress
negotiated with the enemy
helped the US lose a war
abetted in the deaths of millions
created a hostile environment for all servicemen

Why is Kerry still in the US Senate?
This is in violation of
U.S. Constitution Amendment 14 Sec 3 (1868)

Section 3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress,
or elector of President and Vice President,
or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States,
or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath,
as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States,
or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer
of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States,
shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same,

or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.

But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

The FBI has proof of his giving aid and comfort to the enemies

Hanoi Kerry Timeline of a traitor
includes FBI files

May 1970
Kerry and Julia traveled to Paris, France and met with Madame Nguyen Thi Binh, the Foreign Minister of the Provisional Revolutionary Government of Vietnam (PRG), the political wing of the Vietcong, and other Viet Cong and Communist Vietnamese representatives to the Paris peace talks, a trip he now calls a "fact-finding" mission.

(U.S. code 18 U.S.C. 953, declares it illegal for a U.S. citizen to go abroad and negotiate with a foreign power.)

a) A person charged with absence without leave or missing movement in time of war,

or with any offense punishable by death,

may be tried at any time without limitation.*%20843.%20ART.%2043.%20STATUTE%20OF%20LIMITATIONS


Any person who--

(1) aids, or attempts to aid, the enemy with arms, ammunition, supplies, money, or other things; or

(2) without proper authority, knowingly harbors or [protects or gives intelligence to or communicates or corresponds with or holds any intercourse with the enemy, either directly or indirectly;
shall suffer death
or such other punishment as a court-martial or military commission may direct.

Why are the "Move On FReepers" so careful NOT to attack hanoi kerry
head on and refuse to join in the demand to oust the traitor from the US Senate?

"Move On FReepers" "swore" klintoon, hitlery, hanoi kerry, sanbdi ber(bur)glar, al bore, jane beno,
would be prosecuted for
pardongate, chinagate, the bribes in upstate NY in the 2000 NY Senate race, waco, etc, etc,
"when" the "time was right".

"Move On FReepers" : Go back to DU where you came from!

194 posted on 01/13/2006 3:30:33 PM PST by 68-69TonkinGulfYachtClub (Be wary of the "Move On FReepers" who scream and howl "Move On Tonk, Get Over It")
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To: paltz

... you admitted, back in our corner, that you didn't earn your purple hearts (sic) (you indicated you had small scratch on your cheek that wasn't even directly related to an APC [Armored Personnel Carrier] that ran over a small antipersonnel mine that was behind you).

sounds like he still took a lot more of a beating than Hanoi John.

195 posted on 01/13/2006 3:30:49 PM PST by silver charm (Do not be deceived, God can not be mocked. A man shall reap what he sows. Gal. 6:7)
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To: paltz

Murtha apparently is one of those politicians who believes that after so long he becomes invisible and unquestionable. I find a number of things curious about his story.
He claims that he had been awake for over twenty-four hours as if it was unusual. In a war zone twenty-four hours is nothing.
He says he has a Bronze Star with the "Combat V". Is this something new? I thought the V stood for something else.
He claims two Purple Hearts and describes different injuries each time he refers to them.
And last he will not release his records.
BS Alert is ON!!!

196 posted on 01/13/2006 3:31:34 PM PST by OldEagle (May you live long enough to hear the legends of your own adventures.)
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To: RexBeach

This looks like something Democrats would do. Not good.

Should contest with Murtha in current times, not decades ago.

Democrats are hanging their hats on his war hero status. Considering what happened to Kerry would they repeat the same strategy of hiding his records? I think the jury is still out on this. Perhaps the truth should be known one way or the other.

Certainly a frustrating aspect of the Republican party is that they are always trying to good sports and get their hats handed to them by the vulgar Demoncants. Let's be clear I don't want Republicans to look like the Bill Presses, Kennedys or Paul Begalas of the world, but there isn't anything wrong with playing hardball.

If Murtha is the hero they claim, his backbone will stand up to the can of worms he opened.

197 posted on 01/13/2006 3:32:04 PM PST by School of Rational Thought (Republican - The thinking people's party)
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To: OldArmy52
Sister's boyfriend was in Vietnam, got a purple heart and a VA disability....

Have you seen the paperwork? Or at least the checks?

198 posted on 01/13/2006 3:33:49 PM PST by El Gato (The Second Amendment is the Reset Button of the U.S. Constitution)
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To: BoBToMatoE
I think this approach will backfire. Best to deal with Murtha in the present, not the past. --- Correct. Engage him on his ideas.

That is because neither one of you were there or have ever been shot at in combat....

199 posted on 01/13/2006 3:34:12 PM PST by RVN Airplane Driver (Most Americans are so spoiled with freedom they have no idea what it takes to earn and keep it.)
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Is this a wise place to go?
No, the 1st words out of any dems mouth will be that Murtha is being attacked akin to what the Swifties did to Kerry.

Not that what the Swifties did to Kerry was wrong but just that what the dems are going to say.

With all due respect, and I really do respect you, Oxen, Kerry and Murtha were the ones who attacked their opponents based on who served and who didn't. They based their qualifications on the fact that they served, and that others didn't (or if they did, it wasn't as noble as their own).

Murtha is up for re-election this year. He is the one who brought his service into this, with his railing against "chickenhawks" like the Vice President (MURTHA'S words, not mine).

Personally, I'd rather not have to go through something like this again (I got sick of Kerry's duplicity during the 2004 campaign, his saying that he was a war hero of a war that he and others worked so hard to undermine). However, since they want to run on their service, and claim superiority over others because of their service, then questioning of their service is fair game. Only in the mind of the Left is questioning their service "a smear".

I understand your viewpoint, OXEN, and I do respect you and your posts. I just respectfully disagree.

200 posted on 01/13/2006 3:35:28 PM PST by Christian4Bush (Over THREE THOUSAND PEOPLE lost their 'civil liberties' on September 11, 2001.)
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