Our nation, our military, our Tampa Bay area lost a great man today – retired General H. Norman Schwarzkopf passed away in Tampa due to complications from pneumonia. Known by most as “Stormin’ Norman”, General Schwarzkopf lived by his own words, “Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy.”
Brief Overview of His Life and Military Career
Herbert Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr. was born on August 22, 1934 in Trenton, NJ. His own father also served in the United States Army. It was through his father’s military connection that Norman Schwarzkopf would receive his first introduction to the Persian Gulf region. At age 12, he and his family flew to Tehran, Iran to join their father. While in Tehran, Schwarzkopf attended the Community High School.
Throughout his career, Schwarzkopf attended the Valley Forge Military Academy, the US Military Academy and the University of Southern California. He also attended the US Army War College and West Point Academy.
Norman Schwarzkopf held a number of positions throughout his military career, including Commanding General of the Berlin Brigade (1960-61), during the critical division of the city.
In 1964, Schwarzkopf was a faculty member at West Point. After his first year, many of his West Point classmates were going to Vietnam as advisers to the S. Vietnamese Army and Schwarzkopf requested to join them. His presence in Vietnam was both commanding and heroic. After his service, he returned to West Point where he finished his two year obligatory teaching service. In 1968, the then Major Norman Schwarzkopf was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel.
Major Schwarzkopf’s career continued to escalate in the 1970s. He was promoted to Brigadier General and served at US Pacific Command for two years as the Plans and Policy Officer. After serving in a position in West Germany he was promoted to Major General.
In 1986, after one year service as the assistant to Lt. Gen. Carl Vuono, Major Schwarzkopf was promoted to Lieutenant General; and just two years later, he became General Norman Schwarzkopf Commander-in-Chief of the US Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, FL. During his command, he assumed responsibility for a number of crucial operations, including Operation Desert Shield. Shortly after the Gulf War, General Schwarzkopf, along with his deputy commander, Lt. Gen. Cal Waller (and additional staff) implemented Operation Desert Storm.
In August of 1991, General Schwarzkopf retired from active service and for a sometime thereafter, served as a military analyst for NBC, including during Operation Iraqi Freedom. In his retirement, General Schwarzkopf generously donated his time to a number of different charities. He lived in the Tampa Bay area and rejected all speculation that he run for political office.
“The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it.”
Other than General Dwight D. Eisenhower during the Normandy Invasion, no American commander has led more troops in one invasion at one time as General Schwarzkopf during the First Persian Gulf War – an estimated 700,000 troops.
“It doesn’t take a hero to order men into battle. It takes a hero to be one of those men who goes into battle.”
Retired General Norman Schwarzkopf died at the age of 78 but will be fondly remembered by many as one of the greatest military leaders of our time.