Marine vet at Russell rally: Murtha a 'fat little bastard'
NEW STANTON -- Republican congressional candidate Bill Russell's rally on Sunday featured several Iraq war veterans vehemently criticizing U.S. Rep. John Murtha (D-Johnstown), who they say betrayed them when he said troops in Iraq killed innocent civilians in Haditha "in cold blood."
Those remarks sparked Russell to run against Murtha and have been a theme of his campaign ever since.
During the rally, Shawn Bryan, a former sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps., said Murtha visited his unit in Iraq in 2005. At the time, Murtha told the troops "what a great job we did," Bryan said, only to see him tell his district back home he no longer supported the effort.
Bryan said he didn't put his life on the line for his country "just so some fat little bastard can come back and run his mouth."
It was the second time during his speech that Bryan, who flew in from Albuquerque, New Mexico, had called Murtha a "fat little bastard" during his speech. His remarks were not publicly repudiated at the rally.
In an interview after the rally, Russell told PolitickerPA.com Bryan's comments didn't reflect his own feelings, but he did the defend the fellow veteran.
The remarks are reflective of the anger many marines, who have lost dozens of fellow soldiers during combat, feel toward Murtha, he said.
"Am I going to throw him under the bus for it?" Russell asked. "No. I understand -- he's going to say what he believes."
Murtha, who himself served 37 years in the Marine Corps and won a Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts, said about the 2005 shootings of Iraq civilians in Haditha: "Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them, and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood."