N.C. con­gress­man who be­came GOP critic of Iraq war

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - News Obituaries -

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, his 76th birth­day.

The con­gress­man’s of­fice con­firmed his death in a state­ment, say­ing Mr. Jones died in Greenville, N.C. His health de­clin­ing in re­cent months, Mr. Jones en­tered hospice care in Jan­uary af­ter break­ing his hip. He had been granted a leave of ab­sence from Congress in late 2018.

Mr. 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 in Iraq. Mr. Jones was among the House mem­bers who led a cam­paign that re­sulted in the cham­ber’s cafe­te­ria of­fer­ing “free­dom fries” and “free­dom toast” in 2003 — in­stead of french fries and French toast.

Mr. 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.

Mr. Jones, who had served in Congress since 1995, had al­ready an­nounced his 2018 cam­paign would be his last. His death means Demo­cratic Gov. Roy Cooper would sched­ule a spe­cial elec­tion for some­one to com­plete Mr. Jones’ two-year term in the coastal 3rd Con­gres­sional Dis­trict.

In the House, Mr. Jones was a re­lent­less ad­vo­cate for cam­paign fi­nance re­form and con­trol­ling the na­tional debt.

Rep­re­sent­ing a dis­trict that in­cludes Camp Le­je­une and Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Sta­tion, Mr. Jones lamented the mil­i­tary’s lengthy pres­ence in Iraq.

Mr. Jones took heat for be­com­ing one of the first Repub­li­cans to re­verse di­rec­tion on the war in Iraq.

Wal­ter Bea­mon Jones Jr. was born in Far­mville on Feb. 10, 1943. He at­tended Har­grave Mil­i­tary Academy in Vir­ginia dur­ing high school and then grad­u­ated with a bach­e­lor’s de­gree from At­lantic Chris­tian Col­lege — now known as Bar­ton Col­lege — in 1966.

He served in the North Carolina state House from 1982 through 1992, where he of­ten clashed with Demo­cratic lead­ers.

Wal­ter Jones

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