USS Murtha Heading to Pennsylvania

The amphibious transport dock ship Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) John P. Murtha (LPD 26) is launched from the Huntington Ingalls Industries shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Huntington Ingalls Industries/Released)
The amphibious transport dock ship Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) John P. Murtha (LPD 26) is launched from the Huntington Ingalls Industries shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Huntington Ingalls Industries/Released)

The John P. Murtha, a pre-commissioned amphibious transport dock, is scheduled to begin its journey to Pennsylvania on Thursday.

It will go from the Ingalls Shipbuilding yard in Pascagoula, Mississippi, to Philadelphia. The U.S. Navy vessel, named after the longest serving congressman in the commonwealth's history, is then to be commissioned on Oct. 8 in the City of Brotherly Love.

Murtha represented the 12th district -- with Johnstown being its point of power -- for 36 years until he died in February 2010.

"There aren't many people who have ships named after them, so it's really a phenomenal honor to have a vessel like this named in his honor," said Brad Clemenson, one of the congressman's former staff members and co-author of "Murtha War Fighter: Fighting for the Soul of America."

A Marine and two-time Purple Heart recipient, Murtha was the first Vietnam War veteran elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. He prioritized military and veterans issues during his career, especially when he chaired the powerful defense appropriations subcommittee.

"I think his (influence) was absolutely critical," said Ed Sheehan Jr., president and CEO of Concurrent Technologies Corp., a defense contracting company that benefited from its connection to Murtha. "The good thing about Mr. Murtha was that issue was important to him, but the paramount issue was the care of the men and women who protected the nation."

He also impacted the region in many other ways, including with helping develop the Joyce Murtha Breast Care Center, which is part of what is now called the Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

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