1. John Murtha was born June 17, 1932, in New Martinsville, W.Va.. He describes his family as "run by strong women." His grandmother wrote for a newspaper, and his mother, a homemaker, was a college graduate.
2. While in high school, Murtha delivered newspapers and worked at a gas station. After high school, a desire to serve his country prompted him to join the Marines.
3. In 1955 (while remaining in the Reserves), he started a family, ran a small business (a car wash), and attended the University of Pittsburgh on the GI bill. In 1962, he graduated with a degree in economics and went on to graduate studies at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
4. In 1966, Murtha volunteered for Vietnam. For his service in Southeast Asia, he was awarded the Bronze Star, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, and two Purple Hearts. He remained in the Marine Corps Reserve until 1990.
5. In 1969, he was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. In 1974, he was elected to Congress by special election (filling a vacancy caused by the death of GOP Rep. John Saylor), becoming the first combat Vietnam veteran to win a House seat. Murtha has been re-elected every two years.
6. Colleagues report that although seats in the House are not assigned, Murtha has a specific seat. "No one else sits in his seat–that's the kind of respect he commands," explains Rep. Mike Doyle, also from Pennsylvania.
7. Decorations in Murtha's House office include a golf club President Clinton gave him on his last day in the Oval Office, a painting of Teddy Roosevelt (his favorite president), a model of an assault ship his wife christened, and his great-grandfather's Civil War hat.
8. Michael Barone in the Almanac of American Politics describes Murtha as "one of those old-time politicians who operate best in secret, holding court in the back corner of the House chamber where he trades gossip and votes to colleagues who crowd around him as if they were kissing his ring."
9. Murtha has been quoted saying he wants to serve in the House "until they carry me out."
10. Murtha and his wife, Joyce Bell, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 2005. They live in Johnstown, Pa., and have three children and three grandchildren.