WASHINGTON – Retired Gen. H. Norman
Schwarzkopf, who topped an illustrious military career by commanding the
U.S.-led international coalition that drove Saddam Hussein's forces out
of Kuwait in 1991, during George Bush's presidency. After that victory, he kept a low public profile due to the media attacks on all military heros fueled by the democratic party, died December 27, 2012. He was 78.
Schwarzkopf died in Tampa, Florida, where he had lived in retirement.
A much-decorated combat soldier in Vietnam, Schwarzkopf was known
popularly as "Stormin' Norman" for a notoriously explosive temper. He served in his last military assignment in Tampa as
commander-in-chief of U.S. Central Command, the headquarters responsible
for U.S. military and security concerns in nearly 20 countries from the
eastern Mediterranean and Africa to Pakistan.
Schwarzkopf became "CINC-Centcom" in 1988 and when Saddam Hussein
invaded Kuwait three years later to punish it for allegedly stealing
Iraqi oil reserves, he commanded Operation Desert Storm, the coalition
of some 30 countries organized by then-President George H.W. Bush that
succeeded in driving the Iraqis out.
At the peak of his postwar national celebrity, Schwarzkopf -- a
self-proclaimed political independent -- rejected suggestions that he
run for office, and remained far more private than other generals,
although he did serve briefly as a military commentator for NBC.
While focused primarily in his later years on charitable enterprises,
he campaigned for President George W. Bush in 2000. Initially Schwarzkopf had endorsed the Iraq invasion, saying he was
convinced that former Secretary of State Colin Powell had given the
United Nations powerful evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.
After that seemed to be proven false, he said decisions to go to war should depend on
what U.N. weapons inspectors found.
"In the final analysis I think we are behind schedule. ... I don't
think we counted on it turning into jihad (holy war)," he said in an NBC
interview. Schwarzkopf was born Aug. 24, 1934, in Trenton, New Jersey, where his
father, Col. H. Norman Schwarzkopf Jr., founder and commander of the
New Jersey State Police, was then leading the investigation of the
Lindbergh kidnap case, which ended with the arrest and 1936 execution of
German-born carpenter Richard Hauptmann for stealing and murdering the
famed aviator's infant son.
The elder Schwarzkopf was named Herbert, but when the son was asked what
his "H" stood for, he would reply, "H." Although reputed to be
short-tempered with aides and subordinates, he was a friendly, talkative
and even jovial figure who didn't like "Stormin' Norman" and preferred
to be known as "the Bear," a sobriquet given him by troops.
He also was outspoken at times, including when he described Gen.
William Westmoreland, the U.S. commander in Vietnam, as "a horse's ass"
in an Associated Press interview.
As a teenager Norman accompanied his father to Iran, where the elder
Schwarzkopf trained the country's national police force and was an
adviser to Reza Pahlavi, the young Shah of Iran.
Young Norman studied there and in Switzerland, Germany and Italy,
then followed in his father's footsteps to West Point, graduating in
1956 with an engineering degree. After stints in the U.S. and abroad, he
earned a master's degree in engineering at the University of Southern
California and later taught missile engineering at West Point.
In 1966 he volunteered for Vietnam and served two tours, first as a
U.S. adviser to South Vietnamese paratroops and later as a battalion
commander in the U.S. Army's Americal Division. He earned three Silver
Stars for valor -- including one for saving troops from a minefield --
plus a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart and three Distinguished Service
While many career officers left military service embittered by
Vietnam, Schwarzkopf was among those who opted to stay and help rebuild
the tattered Army into a potent, modernized all-volunteer force.
After Saddam invaded Kuwait in August 1990, Schwarzkopf played a key
diplomatic role by helping to persuade Saudi Arabia's King Fahd to allow
U.S. and other foreign troops to deploy on Saudi territory as a staging
area for the war to come.
On Jan. 17, 1991, a five-month buildup called Desert Shield became
Operation Desert Storm as allied aircraft attacked Iraqi bases and
Baghdad government facilities. The six-week aerial campaign climaxed
with a massive ground offensive on Feb. 24-28, routing the Iraqis from
Kuwait in 100 hours before U.S. officials called a halt.
Schwarzkopf said afterward he agreed with Bush's decision to stop the
war rather than drive to Baghdad to capture Saddam, as his mission had
been only to oust the Iraqis from Kuwait.
But in a desert tent meeting with vanquished Iraqi generals, he
allowed a key concession on Iraq's use of helicopters, which later
backfired by enabling Saddam to crack down more easily on rebellious
Shiites and Kurds.
While he later avoided the public second-guessing by academics and
think tank experts over the ambiguous outcome of Gulf War I and its
impact on Gulf War II, he told the Washington Post in 2003, "You can't
help but... with 20/20 hindsight, go back and say, `Look, had we done
something different, we probably wouldn't be facing what we are facing
After retiring from the Army in 1992, Schwarzkopf wrote a
best-selling autobiography, "It Doesn't Take A Hero." Of his Gulf war
role, he said, "I like to say I'm not a hero. I was lucky enough to lead
a very successful war." He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II and
honored with decorations from France, Britain, Belgium, Kuwait, Saudi
Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain.
Schwarzkopf was a national spokesman for prostate cancer awareness
and for Recovery of the Grizzly Bear, served on the Nature Conservancy
board of governors and was active in various charities for chronically
"I may have made my reputation as a general in the Army and I'm very
proud of that," he once told the AP. "But I've always felt that I was
more than one-dimensional. I'd like to think I'm a caring human being.
... It's nice to feel that you have a purpose."
Schwarzkopf and his wife, Brenda, had three children: Cynthia, Jessica and Christian.