“Stormin’ Norman” Schwarzkopf

As 2012 closes, the general who commanded the U.S.-led coalition that liberated Kuwait and the Persian Gulf from Saddam Hussein’s wrath, died Thursday night at age 78.

Norman Schwarkopf was considered bigger than life, yet could also relate to young soldiers, serving him well during highly successful Operation Desert Storm operations early in 1991.

During the war, Schwarzkopf implemented the idea of The Great Wheel, which led to the capture of 3,000 Iraqi tanks, 1,400 armored carriers and 2,200 artillery pieces in just four days, hastening the collapse of  Iraq’s Republican Guard.

Those who follow foreign affairs closely recall initial casualty estimates for the Persian Gulf War were more than 30,000, yet incredibly there were only roughly 100. This was due to Schwarzkopf’s operational genius and innovative approach, including the resurrection of mounted warfare across the Arabian Desert.

Earlier in life, Schwarzkopf, the son of a two-star general and founder of the New Jersey State Police, also graduated from West Point, where he played football. He later earned a Master’s degree in mechanical engineering and furthered his education at the U.S. Army War College in Pennsylvania.  A member of Mensa, Schwarzkopf later taught missile engineering at his alma mater.

As a youngster, “Stormin’ Norman” lived in Switzerland, Germany, Italy and Iran —  the latter experience serving him well some four decades later in the Gulf.

Schwarzkopf was a much-decorated lieutenant colonel who volunteered for two combat tours in Vietnam, most remembered for rescuing his battalion from minefields in 1970.  He earned three Silver Stars for valor, a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart and three Distinguished Service Medals for such efforts.

As the U.S. military rose from its post-Vietnam nadir, Schwarzkopf was promoted to general in 1978 and helped rebuild the Army into its modern, potent, all-volunteer force.  He led Operation Urgent Fury (Grenada) in 1983 and was also named commander of U.S. Central Command five years later. “The Bear” retired with four stars.

Interestingly but appropriately,  88-year-old former President George H.W. Bush — who was Commander in Chief during Desert Storm, and is himself currently ailing — immediately released a statement on the passing of Herbert N. Schwarzkopf Jr. tonight:

“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, General 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.”

Indeed.  Rest in peace, sir.


About AJ Kaufman

A former schoolteacher and military historian, A.J. now works in public relations. As an MSF columnist since 2009, he supports anything baseball-related. Raised in San Diego, A.J. has since resided in numerous parts of America, including Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, Ohio and Washington State. After departing the coasts in 2005, he's traveled the back roads of all 50 states and prefers the Heartland. Married to Maria, A.J. is the author of three books and enjoys reading presidential biographies.


  1. J.M. Cutler says:

    Nicely done. After reading this, I have a new appreciation of The General thanks to you.

  2. Very nice tribute, Ari. Another “good and decent man” is gone. Schwarzkopf was a blessing to the world.

  3. left hander says:

    nice piece, very informative…..sounds like we lost a great american and great leader

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