Plans have been announced to honor late U.S. Congressman John Murtha with a statue in the 12th Congressional District in Pennsylvania, where he served 36 years.
According to the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat, Murtha died in February of this year of complications resulting from gall bladder surgery.
The newspaper says the life-sized statue is being paid for by veteran’s groups. It will be erected in Johnstown’s Veterans Park, an appropriate location for a memorial to the long-time military man.
Murtha joined the Marines in 1952, serving in active duty and later the reserves until retiring in 1990. He was the first veteran of the Viet Nam War elected to serve in Congress.
He received a Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts during his tours in Viet Nam.
Murtha’s widow, Joyce, said the statue is a wonderful tribute to her late husband.
She said, “Jack’s priorities were always Johnstown and the military.”
While John Murtha lived a full life, the congressman and war hero was prematurely taken from his family and constituents by a remarkably common operation.
Over half a million gall bladder operations are performed annually in the United States.
After Murtha’s death, it was widely reported that doctors inadvertently sliced his intestine in the course of the laparoscopic surgery. The cut caused an infection that proved fatal.
Many observers wondered aloud afterwards if the longtime public servant hadn’t been killed by a preventable medical error.
Medical experts told media outlets that a nick to the intestines is extremely rare during gall bladder surgery.
Murtha had been discharged from the hospital following the surgery, but was readmitted a couple of days later with a fever and infection. Several days later, he died from complications.