The NYT Caucus blog reports
A former Marine, Mr. Murtha, his office noted, was the first Vietnam War combat Veteran elected to Congress. Throughout his years, Mr. Murtha paid particular attention to defense spending and to the Pentagon and the military.
When he called for bringing the troops home from Iraq in 2005, after having voted for the war, his proposal stunned many in Congress and added a powerful voice to the growing forces demanding immediate drawdowns and or deadlines.
The buffeting we've all endured during the past several years in politics makes it easy to forget how powerful Murtha's opposition to the Iraq War was for those of us on the outside who could see what a colossal mistake the war was, and still is. Murtha's steadfast opposition to the war, and his fierce support for and desire to protect the men and women fighting in Iraq grounded opposition to the war in principle.
June 16, 2006, Iraq Supplemental debate:
It's easy to stay in the air conditioned office and say i'm going to stay the course. Let me tell you something, those troops I hope they believe in what they are doing. That's what America's all about. But standing here and talking about policy and criticizing people just because they disagree with the policy is absolutely absurd. All of us support the troops. All of us want the troops come home as soon as we can. What we need is a change in direction so we'll be able to work this thing out. All of us want to stability in the middle east. That's what this whole thing's all about. We just disagree on how you do it.
March 23, 2007, closing the debate on the U.S. Troops Readiness, Veterans' Health and Iraq Accountability Act:
[4:44] Finally, we're saying in this bill "you can't send troops back in to battle unless they have the appropriate training, they're fully trained, mission capable." Is there anybody going to vote against that? If you vote against this bill you vote against that. If you vote against this bill you vote against sending troops back with less than a year at home. That's unacceptable. You can sit here and say we're fighting this war. Oh, yes, you can sit here in Washington and say we're fighting this war. But let me tell you something. Those young people, some of them going back three and four times, their families are suffering. These are not 140,000 people. These are each individuals with families and relatives that are bearing the brunt of this fighting that are sent back....
[7:04] I'll tell you what hurts the troops. I'll tell you what hurts them. It hurts 'em when they're extended beyond 13 months, or the Marines have gone seven months. It hurts the troops . . . if you send them back before they have a year at home. That's what hurts the morale of troops. I'm the person that found the 44,000 shortage of body armor in the initial invasion of Iraq. We had troops in danger because they didn't have the equipment they needed. We cannot send troops back into combat without equipment and being fully trained....
My great-grandmother lived to be 96. I was six years old when she died. She said you're on this earth to make a difference. We're going to make a difference with this bill. We're going to bring those troops home. We're going to start changing the direction of this great country.
Thank you, Rep. Murtha, for your courage in standing down those who equated opposition to the war to treason, and for showing what "support the troops" should always mean. May you rest in peace.