Washington (CNN) - Rep. John Murtha, D-Pennsylvania, was remembered by colleagues Wednesday during a memorial service held in the U.S. Capitol building's Statuary Hall. Murtha died February 8 after complications from gallbladder surgery.
Among the speakers at the ceremony were Vice President Joseph Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, National Security Advisor James L. Jones, and several Democratic and Republican leaders.
Speaking towards the end of the service, Pelosi recalled Murtha as a courageous and loyal supporter of American servicemen.
"He was so interested in the soldiers. He could identify with and speak to them as one who had served in the military, but also his affection for them was as a father," Pelosi said.
The House Speaker also told a story about one of the many trips Murtha took to military hospitals to visit wounded war veterans, during which one soldier, dressed in a Pittsburgh Steelers jersey, waited in his room for Murtha in full salute.
"Jack loved that," Pelosi said.
Biden improvised a bit, saying the "best" part about Murtha is that "he's just one stand-up son of a gun."
Several Republican and Democratic colleagues spoke as well, remembering Murtha as the consummate statesman who revered his job.
"A lot of members get elected here by running against this institution; Jack Murtha taught us to respect this institution," Rep. Michael Doyle, D-Pennsylvania, said.
At the end of her remarks Pelosi offered Murtha's widow Joyce the American flag that flew over the Capitol the day Murtha died.
Murtha was Pennsylvania's longest serving congressman and the first Vietnam veteran elected to the House of Representatives.