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Norman Schwarzkopf

Norman Schwarzkopf

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Norman Schwarzkopf was a Vietnam War veteran, commander of the U.S. Central Command and a four-star general in the U.S. Army.

Who Was Norman Schwarzkopf?

Nicknamed "Stormin' Norman," General Norman Schwarzkopf was known for his fiery temper and his keen strategic mind. Schwarzkopf graduated from West Point and fought in the Vietnam War. In 1983, he was made a major general and several years later became a four-star general and commander of the U.S. Central Command. His career included commanding forces in Grenada and the Persian Gulf War. He died in Florida in December 2012.

Early Life

H. Norman Schwarzkopf was born on August 22, 1934, and grew up in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, with his two older sisters, Ruth Ann and Sally. Their father was Colonel H. Norman Schwarzkopf, who served in World War I and founded the New Jersey State Police. His father worked on the infamous 1932 kidnapping case of Charles Lindbergh's son and later served in World War II. After the war, Schwarzkopf and his family accompanied his father to Iran for work. He went to school there and later in Geneva, Switzerland. Schwarzkopf then attended the Valley Forge Military Academy.

Schwarzkopf went to the famed military academy at West Point where he played on the football and wrestling teams. He was also a member of the chapel choir. After graduating in 1956 with a degree in engineering, Schwarzkopf later earned a master's degree in the subject from the University of Southern California.

Military Career

Schwarzkopf volunteered to fight in the Vietnam War in 1966. During the war, he earned several honors for his service there, including three Silver Stars, a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. Schwarzkopf had served as a battalion commander during the war. Plagued by a cracked vertebra, he underwent back surgery at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in 1971. Schwarzkopf then attended the U.S. Army War College the following year.

After the Vietnam War ended, Schwarzkopf stayed in the military and continued to rise up the ranks. He became a general in the late 1970s and served as the deputy commander of the U.S. forces during the 1983 invasion of Grenada. Five years later, he was called to lead the U.S. Central Command. He became one of the prominent figures in the military response to Iraq's invasion of neighboring Kuwait in 1990.

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In 1991, Schwarzkopf led Operation Desert Storm, the U.S. military effort to liberate Kuwait. He and his troops managed to drive out Saddam Hussein's forces in only six weeks. During the war, Schwarzkopf became famous for his straightforward style and his short temper. He received numerous honors for his handling of this military conflict, including a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II.


Schwarzkopf retired from military service in 1991. He shared his life experiences in his autobiography, It Doesn't Take a Hero, which was published the following year. His memoirs were a hit with readers, and the book became a nonfiction best-seller.

Final Years

In retirement, Schwarzkopf served as a military analyst for NBC. He also worked as a public speaker, giving lectures around the country. Some speculated that the popular general might make a bid for public office, but he chose to focus on other interests instead. Schwarzkopf supported a number of charities, including children's organizations. He also worked for the conservation of grizzly bears and campaigned to raise awareness about prostate cancer.

Schwarzkopf didn't stay away from military matters completely, however. In 2003, the retired four-star general spoke out against the invasion of Iraq under President George W. Bush. He felt that the potential outcomes of the military action had not been fully considered. "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, according to the Associated Press.

Death and Legacy

Schwarzkopf died on December 27, 2012, at his home in Tampa, Florida. Former president George H.W. Bush remembered him as "a true American patriot and one of the great military leaders of his generation," adding "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." Schwarzkopf was survived by his wife Brenda and their three children.

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