HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A longtime friend of John Murtha says the late congressman's large intestine was damaged during gallbladder surgery and an infection led him to be hospitalized with a fever.
Congressman Bob Brady says "There will never be another Jack Murtha," adding "He went out on top of his game."
The Pennsylvania Democrat died Monday at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, Va., where he was admitted on Jan. 31. The gallbladder surgery was performed days earlier at the National Naval Medical Center, in Bethesda, Md. Murtha was 77.
In 1974, Murtha, then an officer in the Marine Reserves, became the first Vietnam War combat veteran elected to Congress. He was best known for being among Congress' most hawkish Democrats. For two decades he was the ranking Democrat on the House subcommittee that oversees Pentagon spending.
Murtha voted in 2002 to authorize the use of military force in Iraq. But he became frustrated over the Bush administration's handling of the war and three years later called for an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops.