The Navy’s Distinguished Public Service Award Goes To …
John Murtha! Yes, “that John Murtha” … seriously:
In one of his last moves before leaving office March 13, then-Navy Secretary Donald Winter quietly awarded 19-term Democratic congressman John Murtha (Pa.) with the service’s highest civilian honor.
Citing Murtha’s “courageous leadership, vision, and loyalty to the men and women of the Department of the Navy,” Winter presented the influential chairman of the House Appropriations Committee’s defense panel with the Navy’s Distinguished Public Service Award, an honor bestowed in “those extraordinary cases where individuals have demonstrated exceptionally outstanding service of substantial and long term benefit to the Navy, Marine Corps, or the Department of the Navy as a whole,” a Murtha release stated.
As you can imagine, this didn’t sit well with some in the military. Seems they don’t appreciate seeing elected officials who condemn their comrades in arms as “murderers” being awarded medals:
The primary reason for their ire stems from the congressman’s statements in May, 2006, that a squad of Marines who responded to an IED ambush and short firefight in Haditha, Iraq, rampaged through the village, murdering civilians “in cold blood.”
Murtha made those comments in the heat of the 2006 congressional mid-term election campaign, in a move some political analysts saw as an attempt to stoke the anti-war vote for a Democratic takeover of the House. The former Marine and distinguished Vietnam veteran continued his accusations in follow-up media appearances before an official Pentagon and Naval Criminal Investigative Service investigation had been completed.
When the dust settled more than two years later, six of the eight Marines and Sailors accused of crimes in the Haditha incident had their cases dismissed, one was found not guilty and the last has been continued indefinitely.
Murtha has refused to recant his accusations or apologize to the Marines he accused of war crimes. When asked by Military.com in late 2007 whether he regretted his initial statements and owed the exonerated Marines and Sailor an apology, Murtha refused to comment, saying the cases were still being adjudicated.
Well, I can understand why he wouldn’t apologize. After all, it’s quite well known that Murtha is an officious liar, and no one should believe a word he says.
As for some actual soldier reaction, Deebow at Blackfive queries “Are You F’ing Serious?!”
I was immediately a little suspicious about what kind of award Mr. Murtha could have received, knowing that he hasn’t done anything honorable lately, at least that I can remember. So I checked the Way Back Machine event tabulator I had next to my oatmeal and it says Representative Jack Murtha was an unindicted co-conspirator in the ABSCAM investigation done by the FBI, blatantly called his constituents racists and backwoods red-necks and, most recently, called United States Marines engaged in combat “Cold Blooded Killers” for their actions during a firefight in Haditha, Iraq.
WOW! Now that is one honorable Congressman…
[snip part where Deebow reads about the honor bestowed upon Murtha]
REALLY??? The former SECNAV thought that Rep. Murtha was someone who had “loyalty” to the men and women of the Department of the Navy? He really believed that Rep. Murtha had rendered “exceptionally outstanding service?”
Apparently he did. But, even if Deebow wasn’t impressed, the Congressman himself sure was!
“I’m proud of the service and sacrifices our troops are making, and I’m honored to receive this distinguished award from the Navy,” commented Murtha. “We have an obligation to ensure that our
cold-blooded murderersmen and women in uniform have the most modern equipment, effective training, first-class medical care, and family advocacy resources.”
Erm … there may be some mistranslation in there somewhere.
But one influential veterans group has reacted strongly against the award, crafting a petition to lobby the Navy to rescind it.
Vets for Freedom, a group that generally supports the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, called Murtha’s award “appalling” and his accusations against the Haditha Marines “vile and despicable.”
“Congressman John Murtha should apologize for slandering the Marines of [3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment], and for undermining the efforts of those servicemen and women who fought in Iraq,” the online petition states. “If he does not, the Secretary of the Navy should rescind this award as a sign of his unwavering support for those who served in combat during Operation Iraqi Freedom.”
So far more than 35,000 supporters have signed the online petition.
If you tend to side with Deebow rather than Rep. Murtha, then you can sign too by going to this link.