Con­gress­man Wal­ter Jones Jr. of N.C. dies

Daily Times (Primos, PA) - - OBITUARIES - By Gary D. Robertson

RALEIGH, N.C. >> Repub­li­can U.S. Rep. Wal­ter B. Jones Jr. of North Carolina, a once-fer­vent sup­porter of the 2003 in­va­sion of Iraq who later be­came an equally out­spo­ken critic of the war, died Sun­day on his 76th birthday.

The con­gress­man’s of­fice con­firmed his death in a state­ment, say­ing Jones died in Greenville, North Carolina. His health de­clin­ing in re­cent months, Jones en­tered hos­pice care in Jan­uary after break­ing his hip. He had been granted a leave of ab­sence from Congress in late 2018 and was sworn in for his last term back home.

Jones was a political mav­er­ick un­afraid to buck his own party. He was one of the first Repub­li­cans to re­verse di­rec­tion on the war in Iraq, even as his North Carolina dis­trict in­cluded the sprawl­ing Ma­rine in­stal­la­tion Camp Le­je­une.

His ul­ti­mate op­po­si­tion to the Iraq war came with the irony that he in­sti­gated a sym­bolic slap against the French when their coun­try early on op­posed U.S. mil­i­tary ac­tion. Jones was among the House mem­bers who led a cam­paign that re­sulted in the cham­ber’s cafe­te­ria of­fer­ing “free­dom fries” and “free­dom toast” — in­stead of French fries and French toast.

Jones said he in­tro­duced leg­is­la­tion that would have re­quired Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush’s ad­min­is­tra­tion to be­gin with­draw­ing troops in 2006 be­cause the rea­son given for in­vad­ing Iraq, weapons of mass de­struc­tion, had proved false.

“If I had known then what I know now, I wouldn’t have sup­ported the res­o­lu­tion” to go to war, Jones said in 2005. Jones took heat for his re­ver­sal from GOP col­leagues. He ul­ti­mately signed well over 11,000 let­ters to the fam­i­lies of dead troops, de­scrib­ing that as a penance of sorts.

“For me, it’s a sa­cred re­spon­si­bil­ity that I have to com­mu­ni­cate my con­do­lences to a fam­ily,” Jones said in a 2017 in­ter­view with The As­so­ci­ated Press. “And it’s very spe­cial to me be­cause it goes back to my re­gret­ting that I voted to go into the Iraq war.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.