31 January 2012


by Andy Weddington
Tuesday, 31 January 2012

"The name we give to something shapes our attitude to it." Katherine Patterson 

Last spring Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced a United States warship would bear the name of deceased Congressman John Patrick Murtha, Jr. (D, PA).

Landing Platform Dock-26 (LPD-26), a San Antonio class amphibious ship that embarks, transports, and lands elements of a landing force that carries out expeditionary missions, is under construction and scheduled to be launched in 2013.

Tradition has been to name these ships after U. S. cities (e.g., Anchorage; Arlington; Cleveland; Denver; Dubuque; Green Bay; Juneau; Mesa Verde; Nashville; New Orleans; New York; Ogden; Ponce; San Antonio; San Diego; Somerset).


There was an uproar about the naming. There's still an uproar.


Because Murtha's lengthy 'public service' was tainted (poisoned may be more accurate) by corruption. 

Further, inexcusable and unforgivable, particularly in the eyes of Marines, were statements Murtha  made against U. S. Marines alleged to have committed war crimes in Iraq (Haditha). In short, back in 2005, Marines were accused of killing a couple dozen unarmed Iraqi civilian men, women, and children.

Congressman Murtha, without any facts, 'convicted' the Marines of killing, in cold blood, in the court of public opinion. Investigations and trials (due process--sorting fact from fiction) proved just how wrong Murtha's quick tongue. That the congressman was a retired Marine colonel (reserve) who'd served in Vietnam and wore a Bronze Star, a couple of Purple Hearts and sundry decorations, and who knew better, made his conduct all the more appalling.

To my knowledge, Murtha never apologized--at least not publicly. 

Questions that first come to mind...

1. Why Murtha?

2. Why break from the naming tradition for this class of warship?

3. Why not name the ship after the city suffering the highest casualties during the last ten(plus) years of war? Or, a deserving city with laudable ties to the sacrifices of military service. Or, a city with rich history, size irrelevant, that in name alone sends a powerful message?

By law, sworn oath, and bearing the title "Marine," Murtha was expected to serve exemplifying the highest of moral and ethical standards. He did not. "Distinguished" cannot be used to characterize him  as a leader nor his performance of duty as leadership.  

One Marine's opinion, a warship bearing the Murtha name is wrong. It's insulting to country, Corps, and the Navy. 

Just one question, respectfully, for another public servant, the Honorable Ray Mabus, "Really, Mr. Secretary?"

Finally, not one to question nor criticize without thoughtful recommendation, I do have a two-fold suggestion for Secretary Mabus:

1. Cancel Murtha.

2. Change the hull number from 26 to 47. Name LPD-47 the 'USS Truth or Consequences'--her namesake city in New Mexico (47th in our union). What a message that would send--to congress; America; our military; the world; and particularly her crew and embarked forces. 

Now that would be a ship to be proud of, or so I believe. 

Semper Fidelis!

Post Script

Noted Murtha is amongst ample company considering the ranks of corrupt public servants--past, present, and, sadly, future. By comparison, he can't hold a candle to some--some who went to prison, and many more who should have. But the comparison of who's less a criminal should never be the benchmark for gifting high honors. Yet, by appearances, that seems the case. Good grief.

A website, featuring Murtha and attempting to stop the ship naming, is not so flattering. Take a few moments to peruse and decide for yourself if he was an honorable man, and if he's deserving of the intended recognition. http://www.nomurthaship.com/ If you conclude no, engage.


Anonymous said...


Ken Plato said...

Is this really a surprise? A "thank you" from the Obama admin to Murtha's family for his being a loyal soldier.