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Jack Murtha's 'Fake' Purple Hearts - An Open Letter

May 5, 2002

Dear Jack,

Iím writing on matters of joint concern. A number of weeks ago I was talking with someone who is a mutual acquaintance and your name came up. It was an unusually frank discussion and I considered it private. I did relate some opinions about you and shared some recollections about experiences with you in Congress. I was, to be honest, critical about how you misled me about ABSCAM where you convinced me you had voluntarily told federal agents about the offer of money to you and I learned later, after I had successfully defeated the ethics charges against you, that you had merely manipulated the system to cooperate with federal agents to avoid prosecution.

I also shared my recollection of when you admitted, back in our corner, that you didnít earn your purple hearts (you indicated you had small scratch on your cheek that wasnít even directly related to an APC that ran over a small anti personnel mine that was behind you). The other purple heart you even declined to explain.

At the time you were feeling particularly vulnerable, because it wasnít too long after you had called me crying and sobbing, thanking me for ďsaving your lifeĒ before the ethics committee. There was no doubt in my mind that you were expressing to me that you did not believe you did anything sufficient to earn the purple heart, and that you didnít want to be active in my efforts to laud Vietnam Veterans that served with us.

Given what I know about the brave men who served in the Marine Corp., I did not criticize you, but to be honest, I was shocked and disappointed in you personally. We both knew what was at issue, and we both know what happened and that you wanted to avoid the limelight. Later, we ended up having to run for the same seat. It was a good clean race and I admit I knew I couldnít win, simply on the basis of voter turn out alone. During that time some people came to me with documents indicating you had used influence, after the fact, or had embellished your purple heart awards. I did not respond, and I said nothing. In doing so I may have betrayed my comrades in arms because I knew then what you had told me in the corner of the house - but I had told no one about that and I stood mute. But a few weeks ago my conversation was private and I was not seeking to do you any harm, though it would be ridiculous for me to infer that I have any respect for what youíve done.

Regardless, shortly thereafter a reporter called me and I was put in a very different position. I could either deny what I said in private conversation, and thus lie, or I could fess up to the truth, or, I could take the cowards way out and stand mute. If I say something, I should either have the courage to back it up, or I shouldnít open my mouth. Regardless it was too late, and I did not choose to lie. So I admitted to what I had said. However, I later received two calls from two different aides of yours, and later I was called a liar in the press. I am not a liar and I want an apology for the remarks you authorized that I didnít tell the truth about our conversation. I donít know how you got yourself awarded the purple hearts, but I know you indicated you didnít earn them.

By the way. Iím not an ingrate. I deeply appreciate the help you gave me for the last governorís primary. In fact, out of respect for you, when I realized that the race was going no where, I didnít even cash the check you sent, (which I kept). Being grateful for your help, I have not sought to hurt you - but I will not betray or exploit the young men who died while fighting, with me, for this country. Never coming forward is one thing - I never have. Lying is another. Coincidentally I just settled an 11-year old law suit with Barbara Hafer where she apologized in writing for campaign defamation and admitted that federal agents (Thornburghís political friends) lied to her. I will not accept your falsehoods now. Enough is enough.

You clearly indicated to me in a moment of weakness, that you hadnít deserved the purple hearts and there was no confusion on that. You may deny that all you wish - but you and I know that that conversation took place. Please apologize now. You may fool a few reporters into believing that merely because you got some perfunctory paperwork made out by a friend, that that means you earned the purple hearts. But even if you were awarded the medals later, there should be affidavits from witnesses. These things should be easy to get - where are they? I bet they donít exist Jack because you are the one whoís lying. Luckily thereís one easy way to settle all this. Call a press conference. Explain where you were and what you were doing when you got the purple hearts. Explain who was with you and treated your wounds, but most important Jack describe your wounds or the lack thereof, as you did for me, years ago. I am absolutely certain that you wonít do that - because, though you may have manipulated some paperwork that says you were awarded the medals (for political purposes) you canít produce the witnesses or documents to show any wounds or circumstances under which they occurred.Unless the Marine Corps gives out medals for unsubstantiated non -combat related telltale scratches, procured for use in political campaign - then show me the money Jack - because there should at least be evidence by affidavit, or record of the scratches, thatís what getting a purple heart requires - show me.

You may be able to take advantage of a few Washington reporters who donít have sufficient experience to understand - but you canít fool combat veterans of the Vietnam war by hiding behind ďUnitĒ losses - weíre used to those stories. I have my orders describing my combat awards Jack - to back up my DD-214. Whereís yourís? And Jack - donít ever call me a liar.


Don Bailey

Submitted by Kelly Anne

The Strange Family

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