Rep. Wal­ter Jones Jr. dies on 76th birth­day

One of the first Repub­li­cans to re­verse di­rec­tion on the war in Iraq.

The Times-Tribune - - HEALTH&SCIENCE -

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.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILE

U.S. Rep. Wal­ter Jones, R­N.C., points at a pho­to­graph of Marine Sgt. Michael Ed­ward Bits of Ven­tura, Calif., the first mil­i­tary fu­neral he and his wife at­tended, and one of the many pic­tures of sol­diers killed this cen­tury based at Camp Le­je­une, N.C., along a hall­way lead­ing to his of­fice in Oc­to­ber 2017 on Capi­tol Hill in Washington.

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