Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, passes at 78



Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, who commanded the American-led forces that crushed Iraq in the 1991 Persian Gulf war and became the nation’s most acclaimed ‘military hero’ since the mid-century exploits of Generals Dwight D. Eisenhower and Douglas MacArthur, died on Thursday in Tampa, Fla. He was 78.

The general, who retired soon after the gulf war and lived in Tampa, died of complications arising from a recent bout of pneumonia, said his sister Ruth Barenbaum. In 1993, he was found to have prostate cancer, for which he was successfully treated.

In Operation Desert Storm, General Schwarzkopf orchestrated one of the most lopsided victories in modern warfare, a six-week blitzkrieg by a broad coalition of forces with overwhelming air superiority that liberated tiny Kuwait from Iraqi occupation, routed Saddam Hussein’s Republican Guard and virtually destroyed Iraq’s infrastructure, all with relatively light allied losses.

Winning the lightning war was never in doubt and in no way comparable to the traumas of World War II and the Korean conflict, which made Eisenhower and MacArthur into national heroes and presidential timber. But a divisive Vietnam conflict and the cold war had produced no such heroes, and the little-known General Schwarzkopf was wreathed in laurels as the victor in a popular war against a brutal dictator.

A combat-tested, highly decorated career officer who had held many commands, served two battlefield tours in Vietnam and coordinated American landing forces in the 1983 invasion of Grenada, he came home to a tumultuous welcome, including a glittering ticker-tape parade up Broadway in the footsteps of Lindbergh, MacArthur and the moon-landing Apollo astronauts.

SCHWARZKOPF“Stormin’ Norman,” as headlines proclaimed him, was lionized by millions of euphoric Americans who, until weeks earlier, had never heard of him. President George Bush, whose popularity soared with the war, gave him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Congress gave him standing ovations. Queen Elizabeth II made him an honorary knight. European and Asian nations conferred lavish honors.

In his desert fatigues, he was interviewed on television, featured on magazine covers and feted at celebrations in Tampa, Washington and other cities. He led the Pegasus Parade at the Kentucky Derby in Louisville and was the superstar at the Indianapolis 500. Florida Republicans urged him to run for the United States Senate.

Amid speculation about his future, a movement to draft him for president arose. He insisted he had no presidential aspirations, but Time magazine quoted him as saying he someday “might be able to find a sense of self-fulfillment serving my country in the political arena,” and he told Barbara Walters on the ABC News program “20/20” that he would not rule out a White House run.

Within weeks, the four-star general had become a media and marketing phenomenon. Three months after the war, he signed a $5 million contract with Bantam Books for the world rights to his memoirs, “It Doesn’t Take a Hero,” written with Peter Petre and published in 1992. Herbert Mitgang, reviewing the book for The New York Times, called it a serviceable first draft of history.

“General Schwarzkopf,” he wrote, “comes across as a strong professional soldier, a Patton with a conscience.”

All but drowned out in the surge of approbation, critics noted that the general’s enormous air, sea and land forces had overwhelmed a country with a gross national product equivalent to North Dakota’s, and that while Iraq’s bridges, dams and power plants had been all but obliterated and tens of thousands of its troops killed (compared with a few hundred allied casualties), Saddam Hussein had been left in power.

Postwar books, news reports and documentaries — a flood of information the general had restricted during the war — showed that most of Iraq’s elite Republican Guard, whose destruction had been a goal of war planners, had escaped from an ill-coordinated Marine and Army assault, and had not been pursued because of President Bush’s decision to halt the ground war after 100 hours.

The Generals’ War The Inside Story of the Conflict in the Gulf“The Generals’ War: The Inside Story of the Conflict in the Gulf” (1995), by Michael R. Gordon of The New York Times and the retired general Bernard E. Trainor, portrayed a White House rushed into ending the war prematurely by unrealistic fears of being criticized for killing too many Iraqis and by ignorance of events on the ground. It cast General Schwarzkopf as a second-rate commander who took credit for allied successes, blamed others for his mistakes and shouted at, but did not effectively control, his field commanders as the Republican Guard slipped away.

He was depicted more sympathetically in other books, including “In the Eye of the Storm” (1991), by Roger Cohen and Claudio Gatti.

“His swift triumph over Iraq in the 1991 gulf war came as a shock to a nation that had been battered, by failing industries and festering economic problems, into a sense that the century of its power was at an end,” they wrote. “Schwarzkopf appeared abruptly as an intensely human messenger of hope, however illusory or fragile.”

Old official photographs show a medaled military mannequin, a 6-foot-3-inch 240-pounder with grim determined eyes. But they miss the gentler man who listened to Pavarotti, Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan; who loved hunting, fishing and ballet; and, like any soldier, called home twice a week from the war zone.

Herbert Norman Schwarzkopf Jr. was born on Aug. 22, 1934, in Trenton, one of three children of the man whose name he shared and the former Ruth Bowman. At 18, he dropped the Jr. and his first name but kept the initial. His father, New Jersey’s first state police superintendent, investigated the 1932 Lindbergh kidnapping; he was also a West Point graduate, fought in World Wars I and II, became a major general and trained Iran’s national police in the 1940s.

As a boy, General Schwarzkopf attended Bordentown Military Institute near Trenton. But from 1946 to 1950 he lived in Iran, Switzerland, Germany and Italy with his father. Fluent in French and German at 17, he enrolled at Valley Forge Military Academy in Wayne, Pa., played football and was a champion debater.

At West Point, he was on the football and wrestling teams and sang in the choir. He loved history and dreamed of leading men in battle.

“He saw himself as Alexander the Great,” recalled Gen. Leroy Suddath, his old roommate, “and we didn’t laugh when he said it.” In 1956, he graduated 43rd in a class of 480.

sch0-007aAfter infantry and airborne training at Fort Benning, Ga., he served two years with airborne units in America and Europe, took a two-year assignment in Berlin and a career-officer course at Fort Benning, then earned a master’s in guided-missile engineering in 1964 from the University of Southern California.

Captain Schwarzkopf went to Vietnam as an adviser to a South Vietnamese airborne division in 1965 and once withstood a 10-day enemy siege. He returned a major in 1966, taught at West Point for two years, and as a lieutenant colonel attended the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

In 1968 he married Brenda Holsinger. They had three children: Cynthia, Jessica and Christian.

A battalion commander in his second Vietnam tour, in 1969-70, he was wounded twice and won three Silver Stars for bravery. Men in his command were killed in two 1970 actions that deeply affected him.

On Feb. 18, an artillery shell aimed at the enemy roared over a hill where one of his companies was dug in. It hit a treetop and exploded, killing Sgt. Michael E. Mullen. Form letters sent over the colonel’s name seemed to implicate him, and the sergeant’s parents held him partly responsible as they crusaded to expose military callousness. The case became an antiwar cause célèbre and tarnished the colonel’s record, perhaps unjustly. A 1976 book, “Friendly Fire,” by C. D. B. Bryan, called the death accidental, but a 1995 memoir by the sergeant’s mother, “Unfriendly Fire,” blamed the military.

On May 28, the colonel ordered his helicopter down to rescue troops who had wandered into a minefield. Some were airlifted out, but he stayed behind with his troops. A soldier tripped a mine, shattering his leg and wounding the colonel, who crawled atop the thrashing victim to stop him from setting off more mines. Three other troopers were killed by an exploding mine, but the colonel led the survivors to safety. The episode sealed his reputation as a commander willing to risk his life for his men.

He came home dismayed at the Army’s leadership and convinced that the peace movement and the news media were prolonging the war. One of his sisters, Ms. Barenbaum, had become a peace activist, and for years they did not speak. He later concluded that politicians had lost the war, and the failure, at a cost of 58,000 American lives, left him devastated. For a time, he considered resigning his commission.

His decision to stay in the service came at a military nadir for America. As historians have noted, the Army during and after Vietnam fell into decay — a conscript force rife with racial antagonisms, drug abuse and disciplinary failures. Soldiers were disillusioned, the uniform seemed tarnished in a nation that no longer cared, and once proud traditions had given way to progress measured by infamous “body counts.” But in the late ‘70s and the ‘80s, reforms in recruitment, living conditions, planning, training and leadership restored much of what had been lost: self-respect and professionalism in an all-volunteer service.

He became a colonel in 1975, a brigadier general in 1978, a major general in 1982 and a lieutenant general in 1986. He moved from personnel and planning to brigade posts in Alaska and Washington State, from the Pacific Command in Hawaii to a division in Europe and back to Washington in charge of personnel.

In 1983, while assigned to an elite tank division at Fort Stewart, Ga., he was tapped to coordinate the task force that invaded Grenada. Revolutionaries had staged a coup, killed the prime minister and, with Cuban aid, were building an airfield, purportedly to supply Latin American insurgents. It was also feared that American medical students on the island might become hostages. Operation Urgent Fury suppressed the rebels, restored order and brought the students home safely.

sch0-012aIn 1988, General Schwarzkopf was given his fourth star and named commander of the United States Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, supervising military activities in 19 countries in the Middle East, the Horn of Africa and the Persian Gulf. He developed contingency plans for war in Iraq, and two years later they were needed.

On Aug. 2, 1990, Iraqi forces occupied Kuwait. General Schwarzkopf moved his headquarters to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and amassed hundreds of ships, thousands of aircraft and 765,000 allied troops, including 540,000 Americans and large Arab contingents under Prince Khaled bin Sultan of Saudi Arabia, who was co-commander in the gulf war. A trade embargo and warnings failed to force an Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait, and after a deadline passed on Jan. 15, 1991, the world’s first heavily televised war began.

Audiences saw live missiles striking targets and fighters taking off from aircraft carriers. Cable news delivered continuous reports, and networks anchored newscasts from Baghdad. In Riyadh, General Schwarzkopf controlled the flow of information in briefings. Some reporters were allowed into the field, subject to military supervision and censorship. The result was a dramatic war — and a highly visible commander in fatigues.

The ground war was over in a few days, thanks to what he called his “left hook” strategy, in which he placed forces behind enemy lines for a swift, decisive strike.

The general supported Mr. Bush’s presidential campaigns in 2000 and 2004 and Senator John McCain’s 2008 race against Senator Barack Obama, but he never ran for political office.


sch0-008aOne of the most remarkable incidents in a distinguished career happened on this tour. When Colonel Schwarzkopf received word that men under his command had encountered a minefield, he rushed to the scene in his helicopter. He found several soldiers still trapped in the minefield.

Schwarzkopf urged them to retrace their steps slowly.

Still, one man tripped a mine and was severely injured but remained conscious. As the wounded man flailed in agony, the soldiers around him feared that he would set off another mine. Schwarzkopf, also injured by the explosion, crawled across the minefield to the wounded man and held him down so another could splint his shattered leg. One soldier stepped away to break a branch from a nearby tree to make the splint. In doing so, he too hit a mine, killing himself and the two men closest to him, and blowing the leg off of Schwarzkopf’s liaison officer.

Eventually, Colonel Schwarzkopf led his surviving men to safety.

He was awarded the Silver Star for his bravery but, more importantly to Norman Schwarzkopf, he cemented his reputation as an officer who would risk anything for the soldiers under his command.

FILE: Retired Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf dies at 78SHREVEPORT, LA – SEPTEMBER 12: Retired Army General H. Norman Schwarzkopf was honored by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society with the Patriot?s

We pay tribute to this soul, as part of our world’s History. This was one man that devoted his life to honor his beliefs that all men are entitled to the basic rights of “life, liberty and property”.

In his 1992 autobiography, “It Doesn’t Take a Hero,” Schwarzkopf said he used those briefings to communicate to the enemy. “With those cameras grinding away, I knew I wasn’t talking just to friendly audiences, but that Saddam and his bully boys were watching me on CNN in their headquarters,” he wrote.



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