The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


February 1, 2010


Seated in his chairman’s spot in the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee conference room, Rep. John Murtha recalled another highlight in the foreign policy arena during his 36 years in Congress.

“I sat right here in this room,” Murtha said from behind the ornate conference table.

“Joe McDade (of Scranton) was the ranking member of the committee at the time,” he continued.

“The television was on behind us. He said, ‘Look at this, what’s happening here?’ We turned around and the (Berlin) wall was coming down.’ ”

The fall of communism eclipses all other events for the 77-year-old Westmont Democrat, who dropped out of prestigious Washington and Jefferson College in 1952 to enlist in the Marine Corps as a private to go to Korea.

“I said, ‘It’s not right for me to be here,’ ” Murtha recalled.

“There is a war going on. We are fighting the communists.”

Later he volunteered to serve in Vietnam as an officer, where he received two purple hearts for minor injuries related to enemy fire.

His military service provided a background to seek elected office, and achieve his childhood ambition.

“I always wanted to be in politics,” Murtha said. “I remember when I was a kid I wanted to be in the Marine Corps and I wanted to be in Congress.”

On Feb. 6, Murtha began his 37th year in the House of Representatives, becoming the longest-serving Congressman in Pennsylvania history.

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