Skip to comments.Murtha's War Hero Status Called Into Question
Posted on 01/13/2006 11:53:53 AM PST by paltz
(CNSNews.com) - 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
It's been my experience that people who have come home from service with a PH don't say what Murtha said.
The problem is, he's using his wounded Vietnam Veteran status to lend credibility to his "ideas". Or at least others are using his supposed record that way. If the record is false, that not only discredits him, but also his ideas. You can't separate the two that neatly.
Absolutely right, IMO.
Or on the other side of the isle, Senator Inouye of Hawaii, who was awarded the Medal of Honor and who lost his right arm in the process. That was as a battlefield commissioned 2nd Lt. of the 442nd Regimental Combat team in Italy.
If anyone knows the date of that episode of Meet the Press, I'd like to know...I believe it was Spring 2005? Then later Kerry said he had signed it but had not faxed it to the military?
Actually he quietly released it to a couple of friendly reporters at the Boston Globe and had a "military expert" go through it for them....I imagine Murtha would do the similar thing if pushed.
The "V" device on a Bronze Star stands for "valor". It is used to distinguish between Bronze Stars awarded for actions in combat, which get the "V", versus those awarded for non-combat actions, which don't.
You could say that politics gets a little rough around here?
I have never heard it called a "Combat V". You can get one in combat without the "V".
BTW...Murtha is a phony lying POS...excuse my memory lapses
"If anyone knows the date of that episode of Meet the Press, I'd like to know...I believe it was Spring 2005?"
348 days ago,
Hanoi Kerry promised, on national TV,
to sign form SF-180 AND release his full military records
to the public.
He has yet to do so.
President Bush signed his Form 180 in 2004.
Kerry Hangs Back From Disclosure to All
The NY Sun June 9, 2005 Josh Gerstein
Did Kerry really release Navy records?
Chicagao Sun Times June 9, 2005 THOMAS H. LIPSCOMB
EXPOSE HANOI KERRY!
MUST SEE WEBSITE!!!!
Actually no, he did NOT release it as he said he would. He was very selective in what his Form 180 released and did not release, and apparently it did not release his medical records. John O'Neill challenged Kerry this year on that and said if John Kerry is unclear as to how to go about signing the Form 180 and releasing the records in their entirety and not just to a few liberal, left-wing media hacks at the Boston Globe, then John O'Neill stated he would gladly accompany Kerry and help him to sign Form 180 correctly.
And no, I doubt that Murtha would want his bogus military records fully opened & expunged any more than what Kerry wants his bogus military records fully opened.
I think this was done in a movie also, but my uncle at a cookout was talking with my dad and other uncles about their time in the Marine Corp and Army.....
well all the little cousins were sitting down and listening...so my uncle goes into this hair raising story"we were surrounded, me and 3 other guys..and about 100-150 VC came from the front... and about another 100 flanked us, when we checked the other side of the perimeter all we could see was black pajamas and muzzle flashes...
So we sat there and waited and waited, till finally somebody asked,"what happened???!!!!"
Well he swells up, stands up tall, pointed a longneck in our general direction and said...."we all got killed!!! Gee, nobody could live through that, so don't listen to any 'war stories'..hahahahahaha"
My dad and the rest were just busting a gut... they rarely told "war" stories, just funny things that somebody in their unit did, or how they got nicknames or how odd certain physical attributes of their fellow Marines and soldiers had.
Murtha, Kerry and the others that may or may not have "punched a ticket" to get the right ribbon for their resume need a reality check through Walter Reed.
My pop earned 1 Purple Heart. Lost half a leg, had multiple gunshot wounds, phosporous burns, and parts of a grenade in his "good" leg and his back. 2 1/2 years at Corpus Christi Naval Air Station after hitting Brooks Burn unit showed me how real soldiers earned their Purple Hearts.... from what I saw none of them were "given".
If this f'ing Democrat turns out to be a "poser" and REMF/Poster Boy Marine that pulled a "Kerry" in order to pad the Purple Heart count and "V" for valor ticket, he needs to be exposed.
I don't think anybody that's earned a combat ribbon is shy about showing how he earned his award, especially if somebody is challenging them on it.
Should be easy enough to find out with the Pajamahadim... somebody served with this a-hole. Somebody had to have seen the wounds that earned him the Purple Hearts.... I wouldn't be suprised if it wasn't a Navy guy like..say.... John Kerry..bwahahahahaha... they probably met in Cambodia over Christmas vacation.
I'm late to the party, but (like Kerry) Murtha is the guy who keeps raising the issue of his military service. Otherwise, it wouldn't be relevant.
I think he and kerry should both provide the public with full disclosure by authorizing the release of their service records.
The MSM made Bush do it, and kept right on bitching after he did. Why are Democrats exempt?
Is this a wise place to go?
-- -- --
The truth is always a wise place to go. And since the credibility of this 'rat, who is citing his mysterious awards as his crowning substantiation, is questioning the decisions, authority, and character of President Bush.
I was talking to a friend who's son is in the Marines and served in Iraq during the first year of the war. His vehicle had an RPG explode above it that cause some minor shrapnel wounds, an injury to his shoulder and permanent hearing loss in both ears, he'll probably need hearing aids within 10 years according to doctors. He did not receive and has said would not have accepted a Purple for his wounds because his injuries weren't deserving of it.
As far as I'm concerned if this SOB received his medals for a couple of scratches and has since used them to enhance his political career, everything possible should be done to unmask him for what he is. Anything less is an insult to the many deserving people who have served and are still serving in our military.
"Trying to find fault in someone's war service is not honorable."
Vets are honorable to protect the integrity of their service by fighting for purity in the award system, and exposing the heroism hitchhikers. When one bases the strength of his attacks on fellow vets and the current military on his military record, it be idiotic not to take a simple look at that record.
I believe that the term "with Combat V" was the term used to describe kerry's Silver Star. The Silver Star doesn't have "V" and "non-V" awards because it can only be awarded for actions in combat.
You can get one in combat without the "V".
I didn't know that. I thought all Bronze Stars awarded for combat actions had the "V" device and the non-combat ones didn't.
If the man is a lier and gamed the system, by all means make him own up to it. Any way possible. He has power by corrupt means. That is not good for us.
"But that would not have made me a patriot even if I had gotten a purple heart for whatever."
I was a draftee and did my duty by answering the call. Murtha is determined to undermine our war effort in Iraq with no regard to the perilous consequences that our country will suffer as a result.
His citing his military record, as a measure of his patriotism, is nothing more than an attempt to deflect criticism.
He should be called to account for his record, and if he is what he says he is, his cooperation should be forthcoming.
I have a bronze star that I received for "meritorious service".
The V device is for valor. You are corerect.
Hola El Gato,
Amen to that and I would like to see the medical reports veifying those alleged wounds.
When called on to verify the truth, not one democrat can meet the standard.
America's AQ the democrats, Osama's liberal supporters who want America to fall.
Got news for those MF(s) it ain't gonna happen on our watch.
Never To Quit,
Since some vets want to be cloaked by the rule of military disclosure about DD-214s and other orders, a swath of emptiness is all the sheep that vote for these people rely upon. Murtha has been one of those that slipped through like Kerry. No more.
Check out this thread.
Semper Fi, Cobra.
" It would be a murky examination anyway, and therefore he would get the benefit of the doubt (as he should)."
I never served, so I leave the question of right and wrong here to you guys who did.
But there is one point worth keeping in mind: the Left still controls the Mainstream Media. I thought the case against Kerry was about as open and shut as the case could possibly be. True, everyone wasn't against the guy. It's hard, but not impossible, to find a guy who everyone is against. But nearly everyone who served in his vicinity was against Kerry. Still, the case against Kerry was barely carried in public overall. In advance, we have to consider how the MSM spin would come in to play on this issue.
Moran was confronted by a US Soldier and witnessed the Congressman as the worthless duff he is >
Cut and run. Its the only way the Dems know. Download the video;
No, it serves no purpose. The guy did way more than most Americans and now he's a lunatic. Why attack the patriot when you can attack the lunatic?
What kind of lunatic are you???
You have obviously never served...probably you should not comment....
Of course it serves a purpose, it helps protect the nation from those that are telling us that our men and women in uniform should not be attacking terrorists where ever they find them.
And doing so prevents a repeat of the whole "Viet Nam" episode where our troops were savaged by the liberal pundits and politians for beating the Communists until they begged for peace.
The purpose here is to never let the left repeat Viet Nam on a whole new generation of our military.
What better purpose is there?
I can't believe you USMC folks are not ripping this POS a new one....hell I am an Army Airplane Driver...and we would piss on the ole mans leg while he was in the shower...
Asshole....if you had been in the military...then you would understand....
3. Criteria: a. The Bronze Star Medal is awarded to any person who, while serving in any capacity in or with the military of the United States after 6 December 1941, distinguished himself or herself by heroic or meritorious achievement or service, not involving participation in aerial flight, while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States; while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.
b. Awards may be made for acts of heroism, performed under circumstances described above, which are of lesser degree than required for the award of the Silver Star.
c. Awards may be made to recognize single acts of merit or meritorious service. The required achievement or service while of lesser degree than that required for the award of the Legion of Merit must nevertheless have been meritorious and accomplished with distinction.
forgot JOHN 2...or whatever
Sign the DD Form 180 Murtha, we need proof now since you have been knocking the shit out of our troops serving today...
I did, I sent him emails and snail mails that would have burnt the paint off a 57 Buick, they all came back rejected.
It seems he doesn't allow anyone outside his district to criticize him at all.
This is out of line. Wayyyy out of line. I am not reading this article. This man is defined by what he does today.