Controversy flares over ship named for Murtha

by
April 28, 2010

By Philip Ewing – NAVY Times

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi praised the Navy’s decision to name an amphibious warship after Rep. John Murtha, but the formal announcement Friday added fuel to an already smoldering backlash online.

Murtha — “our dear Jack,” as Pelosi referred to him — deserved the honor as a tireless advocate for troops generally and Marines in particular, she said, and she recalled admiring his rapport with them.

“Whether on the battlefield, or on the bedside, he thanked them for their courage, listened to their concerns, and asked them for comment — and he answered their needs, and responded to their calls, whether it was for body armor, up-armored vehicles… radios, you name it,” Pelosi said. “In those minutes [together], he bonded with them especially because he would share his own personal military service with them, and cared for them as a father. They knew it, and they returned his respect.”

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, who technically is the only person in the government with the power to name U.S. warships, also praised Murtha’s history of service. He unveiled an official illustration showing an amphibious transport dock marked with the hull number “26” named John P. Murtha. It will be the first in the San Antonio class not named for an American city.

Despite the encomia from Pelosi and Mabus, thousands of Web users remembered a different Murtha — the one who opposed the Iraq war and accused Marines in 2005 of killing Iraqis “in cold blood” — when reacting to the announcement about the ship named in his honor. A Facebook group called “People Against Naming A Navy Ship USS Murtha” had 1,336 members as of Monday morning, and it was becoming a clearinghouse for angry comments and homemade cartoons criticizing Murtha.

Continue reading this article in its entirety:  http://www.navytimes.com/news/2010/04/navy_murtha_backlash_042710w/

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