John Murtha, American politician, Died at 78

Dead, John Patrick “Jack” Murtha, Jr. on February 8, 2010 at the age of 78, he was an American politician from the U.S. state of Pennsylvania.

Murtha, a Democrat, represented Pennsylvania’s 12th congressional district in the United States House of Representatives from 1974 until his death in 2010.

Born into an Irish-American family in New Martinsville, West Virginia on June 17, 1932, near the border with Ohio and Pennsylvania, and grew up in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, a largely suburban county east of Pittsburgh.

He was the son of Mary Edna (née Ray) and John Patrick Murtha, Sr. Murtha left Washington and Jefferson College in 1952 to join the Marine Corps and was awarded the American Spirit Honour Medal for displaying outstanding leadership qualities during training.

He became a drill instructor at Parris Island and was selected for Officer Candidate School at Quantico, Virginia.

He was then assigned to the Second Marine Division, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. As an undergraduate, Murtha was initiated into the Kappa Sigma Fraternity.

In 1966, as the Vietnam War escalated, Murtha volunteered for active duty in the Marines, joining his brothers in the military.

Wounded twice, he was awarded two Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.

Upon his return to the United States, he entered politics.

In 1969, he was elected to the Pennsylvania House.

Murtha was elected to represent the 72nd legislative district in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in a special election on May 20, 1969.

The election was triggered by the death of Representative Edward McNally, who died in November 1968.

He was elected to a full term in 1970. On June 9, 2006, Murtha informed Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi that he would run for Majority Leader if the Democrats gained control of the House in the 2006 midterm elections.

Despite Murtha receiving Pelosi’s support, current Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer was elected to the post.

Murtha, whose military decorations included the Bronze Star and two awards of the Purple Heart, was one of the first Vietnam veterans to sit in the House.

His district returned him regularly to office, and after 10 years Murtha had quietly established himself as a key Capitol Hill player who could woo lawmakers of divergent views to join forces.

In 2008, the FBI raided a powerhouse lobbying firm, PMA Group, whose founder, Paul Magliocchetti, was a close friend of Murtha’s and which had had unique success in winning earmarks from Murtha for its clients.

In January 2009, federal investigators raided Kuchera Industries, a Pennsylvania company that Murtha had helped grow with more than $100 million in military contracts and earmarks.

The company was suspended from receiving further Navy contracts pending an investigation into allegations that the company had defrauded the government in its billing.

In December 2009, the Office of Congressional Ethics reported that it saw no reason to continue its investigation of Murtha’s actions on behalf of PMA Group and recommended that the House ethics committee take no action against him.