General Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr. dead at 78

220px-NormanSchwarzkopfSchwarzkopf was born in Trenton, New Jersey, the son of Ruth Alice (née Bowman) and Herbert Norman Schwarzkopf. His paternal grandparents were German. His father served in the US Army before becoming the Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, where he worked as a lead investigator on the 1932 Lindbergh baby kidnapping case before returning to an Army career and rising to the rank of Major General. In January 1952, Schwarzkopf’s birth certificate was amended to make his name “H. Norman Schwarzkopf”. This was done as an act of revenge against the upper class cadets at West Point because his father hated his own first name “Herbert” and when he attended West Point the upper class cadets yelled at him for signing his name “H. Norman Schwarzkopf”. His connection with the Persian Gulf region began very early. In 1946, when he was 12, he and the rest of his family joined their father, stationed in Tehran, Iran, where his father went on to be instrumental in Operation Ajax, eventually forming the Shah’s secret police SAVAK, as well. He attended the Community High School in Tehran, later the International School of Geneva at La Châtaigneraie, Frankfurt High School in Frankfurt, Germany and attended and graduated from Valley Forge Military Academy. He was also a member of Mensa.—Wikipedia

A special forces friend of mine once told me that he met Major Schuwarzkopf in Vietnam. He met him because the Major was out in the field with his men much of the time unlike other officers. Wikipedia recounts one story:

He had received word that men under his command had encountered a minefield on the notorious Batangan Peninsula, he rushed to the scene in his helicopter, as was his custom while a battalion commander, in order to make his helicopter available. 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 wounded but remained conscious. As the wounded man flailed in agony, the soldiers around him feared that he would set off another mine. Schwarzkopf, also wounded by the explosion, crawled across the minefield to the wounded man and held him down (using a “pinning” technique from his wrestling days at West Point) 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, which killed him and the two men closest to him, and blew an arm and a leg off Schwarzkopf’s artillery liaison officer. Eventually, Schwarzkopf led his surviving men to safety, by ordering the division engineers to mark the locations of the mines with shaving cream.

General Schwarzkopf came to national attention during Desert Storm, though that was not his intent. It was known that he desired to be on the ground in Iraq to coordinate efforts, like most good commanders, but was called back to conduct press conferences.

He was offered the position of Chief of Staff of the Army, but declined retiring in August of ’91. In 1992 his autobiography It Doesn’t Take a Hero was published.

The General passed away today in Tampa, Florida suffering complications arising from pneumonia.

SEE ALSO: Lionized for Lightning Victory in ’91 Gulf War

Florida reacts to death of Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf – Tampa Bay Times