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Stormin' Norman dies at 78: General Schwarzkopf who led U.S. troops to victory against Saddam in first Gulf War passes away from pneumoniaSchwarzkopf died in Tampa, Florida, where he had retiredWas the most recognizable military commander since Dwight Eisenhower and Douglas MacArthurRetired general kept low profile after leaving military – despite strong popularity after Persian Gulf War
14:01 GMT, 28 December 2012
Retired General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, who commanded the U.S.-led international coalition that drove Saddam Hussein's forces out of Kuwait in 1991, has died.
The 78-year-old succumbed to complications from pneumonia on Thursday in Tampa, Florida, where he lived in retirement.
His large personality and public prominence during the nation's first live-broadcast war made him the the most recognizable, and acclaimed, military commander since Dwight Eisenhower and Douglas MacArthur.
A much-decorated combat soldier in Vietnam, Schwarzkopf was known popularly as 'Stormin' Norman' for his notoriously explosive temper.
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Decorated: General Norman Schwarzkopf was the public face of the U.S.-led coalition that invaded Iraq in 1991
During the 1991 Persian Gulf War, he was the public face of the coalition forces who ousted Saddam Hussein's forces from Kuwait.
He was also the mastermind behind the mechanics of Operations Desert Storm, co-authoring the official strategy of the defense of Saudi Arabia, as well as the combat operations in Kuwait and Iraq.
After the war, his popularity was nearly immeasurable. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George H.W. Bush, was given a standing ovation by Congress and was bestowed an honorary knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II.
He was offered the job of Chief of Staff – the top position in the U.S. Army – but turned it down. He retired from active duty in August 1991 – just six moths after the conclusion of the war.
He lived in retirement in Tampa, where he had served in his last military assignment as commander-in-chief of U.S. Central Command. That is the headquarters responsible for U.S. military and security concerns in nearly 20 countries from the eastern Mediterranean and Africa to Pakistan.
Schwarzkopf became Commander-in-Chief of '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.
Author of the war: Schwarzkopf, seen here with President George H.W. Bush in Saudi Arabia in 1990, drew up the battle plans for Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm
Diplomat: Schwarzkopf, seen here with the emir of Bahrain, reached out to the leaders of several Arab countries to help build support for the U.S. operation
While focused primarily in his later years on charitable enterprises, he campaigned for President George W Bush in 2000 but was ambivalent about the 2003 invasion of Iraq, saying he doubted victory would be as easy as the White House and Pentagon predicted. In early 2003 he told the Washington Post the outcome was an unknown:
Long service: Schwarzkopf earned a reputation for bravery during the Vietnam War and was a highly-decorated officer
'What is postwar Iraq going to look like, with the Kurds and the Sunnis and the Shiites That's a huge question, to my mind. It really should be part of the overall campaign plan,' he said.
Initially Schwarzkopf had endorsed the 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 proved false, he said decisions to go to war should depend on what U.N. weapons inspectors found.
He seldom spoke up during the conflict, but in late 2004, he sharply criticized then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the Pentagon for mistakes that included inadequate training for Army reservists sent to Iraq and for erroneous judgments about Iraq.
'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 August 24, 1934,
in Trenton, New Jersey, where his father, Colonel H. Norman Schwarzkopf
Sr, 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.
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.
Activist: Schwarzkopft, seen here in 2006, largely faded from public life after his retirement from the Army. In recent years he became spokesmen for the Nature Conservancy and an initiative to fund prostate cancer research
Public face: Schwarzkopf gave numerous media briefings that aired across the country – making him a nationally-recognized name
Decorated: Schwarzkopf was honored by President George H.W. Bush, Congress, Queen Elizabeth II and the governments of nearly every coalition nation where he served
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 Medals.
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.
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.
'AN AMERICAN ORIGINAL': TRIBUTES POUR IN AFTER GENERAL'S PASSING
President Barack Obama: 'With the passing of Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, we've lost an American original. From his decorated service in Vietnam to the historic liberation of Kuwait and his leadership of United States Central Command, Gen. Schwarzkopf stood tall for the country and Army he loved. Our prayers are with the Schwarzkopf family, who tonight can know that his legacy will endure in a nation that is more secure because of his patriotic service.'
Former President George H.W. Bush: 'Barbara and I mourn the loss of a true American patriot and one of the great military leaders of his generation. A distinguished member of that “Long Gray Line” hailing from West Point, Gen Norm Schwarzkopf, to me, epitomized the “duty, service, country” creed that has defended our freedom and seen this great nation through our most trying international crises. More than that, he was a good and decent man – and a dear friend. Barbara and I send our condolences to his wife, Brenda, and his wonderful family.'
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell: 'With the passing of General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, America lost a great patriot and a great soldier. Norm served his country with courage and distinction for over 35 years. The highlight of his career was the 1991 Persian Gulf War, Operation Desert Storm. “Stormin' Norman” led the coalition forces to victory, ejecting the Iraqi Army from Kuwait and restoring the rightful government. His leadership not only inspired his troops, but also inspired the nation. He was a good friend of mine, a close buddy. I will miss him. My wife, Alma, joins me in extending our deepest condolences to his wife, Brenda, and to her family.'
January 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 February 24 through 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
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
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 today.”'
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.
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 ill
'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.
VIDEO Stormin' Norman's key moments…
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