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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: paltz; Admin Moderator
Why is this dumb thread back to breaking news after it was removed from breaking news section. I tell you guys that it is extremely STUPID to go into Murtha service record. He is killing the democrats with his "cut and run" from Iraq and now some two morons at CNS news want to go into his Vietnam record so people will forget about what he is saying on Iraq and instead sympathize with an old man who has been attacked on his military service. Anyone who does not realize this has the political IQ of a 5 years old.
241 posted on 01/13/2006 5:28:39 PM PST by jveritas (The Axis of Defeatism: Left wing liberals, Buchananites, and third party voters.)
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To: usmcobra

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...

242 posted on 01/13/2006 5:30:23 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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To: jveritas

Asshole....if you had been in the military...then you would understand....

243 posted on 01/13/2006 5:32:11 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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To: wingman1

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.

244 posted on 01/13/2006 5:33:04 PM PST by CDB
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To: RVN Airplane Driver

forgot JOHN 2...or whatever

245 posted on 01/13/2006 5:33:46 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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To: paltz

Sign the DD Form 180 Murtha, we need proof now since you have been knocking the shit out of our troops serving today...

246 posted on 01/13/2006 5:37:51 PM PST by biff0101
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To: RVN Airplane Driver

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.

247 posted on 01/13/2006 5:38:31 PM PST by usmcobra (30 years since I first celebrated The Marine Corps Birthday as a Marine)
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To: paltz

This is out of line. Wayyyy out of line. I am not reading this article. This man is defined by what he does today.

248 posted on 01/13/2006 5:43:28 PM PST by kerryusama04 (The Bill of Rights is not occupation specific.)
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To: usmcobra

IMHO, none.

249 posted on 01/13/2006 5:58:02 PM PST by freema (Proud Marine Mom, Aunt, Sister, Friend, Wife, Daughter, Niece)
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To: usmcobra; RVN Airplane Driver
Lyndon B. Johnson, appointed Lt Commander, USN. 7 Months active service in Australia and New Zealand; Bombing observer; awarded Army Silver Star.

John Kerry; 4 months service in country, 5 medals: Silver Star, Bronze Star and 3 Purple Hearts. Allegedly discarded, later reissued?

John Murtha; RVN 66-67 (at least he did a tour); 2 Purple Hearts (requested).

All politicians who proudly served their country in combat. All heroes on paper.
250 posted on 01/13/2006 5:58:34 PM PST by BIGLOOK (I once opposed keelhauling but recently have come to my senses.)
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To: Wristpin
Cobra, Do you find it odd that a Colonel retiring after 37 years would a receive an EOT not from the Corps but a much lesser award from the Governor of his state?

ding .... now you get it......padding the old resume... saw it with some Marines in order to get stamped as having commanded a "rifle company" rotate around the company commanders position so they can get the bump to Pentagon ... the Marines are a small outfit, so it's real hard to "fake" stuff..or pad your service record. Everybody knows everybody else's sh#t... It's really like a big dysfunctional family that just loves to kick ass and take names. They don't like anybody making fun of them or their "kin" or the games they play...or the way they play them.

I'll take a bet...$20 that neither one of his Purple Hearts or "V" for "V for Combat" is worth it's weight in whale sh#t.

I've met Marine officers who are flaming libs but mostly the officers I've been privileged to meet are gentleman, courteous, competitive, honorable, but would be able to field strip an M-1, M-14, M-16 or .45, feed his men before he ate, and be able to find, engage and destroy any enemy of our country....

and THAT'S why I more than want to bust Murtha's a$$.... there are great men who've worn and died with that little old Globe and Anchor, that this turd is dishonoring. He's just like that old fart in Florida who deserted 30 years ago..... an f'ing coward and disgrace to the Corp and the men who've served.

as for the FReepers that "don't want to go there".... don't worry, you won't have to.... just step aside and let somebody else do the heavy lifting. If it turns out he's actually blind from a beer tab injury or got crotch rot or the clap from some mama-san then I guess maybe he can throw his ribbons in the same body of water that Kerry did.....what a bunch of posers.

251 posted on 01/13/2006 6:04:29 PM PST by Dick Vomer (liberals suck......... but it depends on what your definition of the word "suck" is.)
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To: Dick Vomer


252 posted on 01/13/2006 6:21:02 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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To: Dick Vomer
There is nothing worse in the Corps then an officer that screws over the troops for his own benefit or to cover his rear end.

Muthra is doing both on a much grander scale, every service man or woman in Iraq and Afghanistan is at risk because of Muthra's words, anything we do to prevent him from further harming the mission he sent them on is justified.
253 posted on 01/13/2006 6:36:06 PM PST by usmcobra (30 years since I first celebrated The Marine Corps Birthday as a Marine)
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To: GSWarrior

There should be some cartoons done with purple heart bandaids on Murtha's face. No Republican should mention it and should denounce anyone who points it out - just for the record. : )

254 posted on 01/13/2006 6:50:25 PM PST by Galveston Grl (Getting angry and abandoning power to the Democrats is not a choice.)
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To: RVN Airplane Driver

Just hold your tongue.

255 posted on 01/13/2006 7:02:22 PM PST by jveritas (The Axis of Defeatism: Left wing liberals, Buchananites, and third party voters.)
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To: paltz

The past, is the past. But it never hurts to make him believe he simply went one step too far and put his hero status in question. Scare the guy and see what kinds of blubbering start pouring out. Might surprise everyone. Might spill his guts.

256 posted on 01/13/2006 7:02:31 PM PST by Mrs. Darla Ruth Schwerin
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To: dirtboy
" I think this approach will backfire. Best to deal with Murtha in the present, not the past." regarding his plan to re-invade Iraq if things go badly: what is his estimate of how many casualties we would take in a re-invasion??????

257 posted on 01/13/2006 7:10:31 PM PST by cookcounty (Army Vet, Army Dad.)
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To: paltz

When a person bases something of value (career, marriage, etc) on a lie, then everything that comes to him is pretty much worthless. We know what we need to know. He can't be trusted.

258 posted on 01/13/2006 7:14:32 PM PST by Just Lori (The road to hell is paved by liberals.)
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To: dirtboy
"I think this approach will backfire. Best to deal with Murtha in the present, not the past."

I disagree ---
The Democrats have foisted Murtha and his "heroic past" in out faces as his "blood earned right" to criticize the war and the President......
How many times have you heard that Murtha was a "hero" and deserved the SAME time as he is behaving like a traitor and under suspicion by the ethics committee?
Shades of the phony, lying, Kerry --- and his charges against our warriors.....

Just like Kerry -- Murtha can end the questioning by simply releasing his DD214 with Medical Records...

That is the ONLY way to end the questioning.....
Please note that Kerry has still failed to fully release his records, too.....

Another point -- Murtha, like Kerry -- ran on his military record..... He made a freaking career of his "military service", his sacrifice recognized by his TWO Purple Hearts........
I don't think it's asking much of a "civil servant" who has sucked at the public tit all these DECADES to prove his primary running claim.....

Murtha, his record, his behavior, his statements and his whole "being" is beginning to smell VERY bad....

Semper Fi

259 posted on 01/13/2006 7:19:18 PM PST by river rat (You may turn the other cheek, but I prefer to look into my enemy's vacant dead eyes.)
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To: Wuli

An interesting pattern, if it's true.

260 posted on 01/13/2006 7:21:20 PM PST by skr ("That book [Bible], sir, is the rock on which our republic rests."--Andrew Jackson)
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