Herbert Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr. was born on August 22, 1934, in Trenton, New Jersey. Because his father grew to dislike the name "Herbert" the birth certificate was amended in 1952 to alter the name to H. Norman Schwarzkopf whereby "Norman" became the familiar first name.
Norman's father had served in the U.S. Army and later became the superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. As such, he was the lead investigator in the 1932 Lindbergh baby kidnapping case, two years before Norman was born. He later re-joined the U.S. Army and rose to the rank of Major General.
In 1946, at age 12, Norman and the rest of the family joined their father stationed in Iran. As a military dependent, Norman attended school in Tehran, Iran, Frankfurt, Germany, and graduated from Valley Forge Military Academy in Pennsylvania.
After Valley Forge Military Academy, Norman attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, graduating 43rd in his class in 1956 with a B.S. degree. He later attended the University of Southern California, receiving a M.S. degree in mechanical engineering, having specialized in guided missile engineering. He was also a member of Mensa, a fellowship of individuals with high IQs.
After West Point, in 1956, he became a 2nd lieutenant and received Airborne training at Ft. Benning in Georgia. Next, he became a platoon leader in an Airborne unit at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky. In 1960, he was an aide to the Commanding General in Berlin, Germany. In 1965, upon receiving his masters degree from USC, Schwarzkopf became an instructor in the Mechanical Engineering Department at West Point.
In 1965, while teaching at West Point, Schwarzkopf volunteered for duty in Vietnam, where he became a Task Force Advisor to the South Vietnamese Airborne Division, reaching the rank of Major. After his tour of duty overseas, he returned for two more years of teaching at West Point. In 1968, he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and also married his wife Brenda.
After West Point, Schwarzkopf returned to Vietnam. In March of 1970, several soldiers under his command had been trapped in a minefield. He scrambled to the scene in his helicopter where he advised the men to slowly retrace their steps. One of the soldiers tripped a mine explosion and was severely wounded. The other soldiers in the minefield remained frozen, fearing they would trigger another explosion.
Schwarzkopf, also wounded in the blast, crawled into the minefield, reached the wounded soldier, and secured him while another soldier applied a splint to the shattered leg. Another soldier then tripped an explosive mine, killing himself and two other nearby soldiers, and blowing off a leg and an arm of Schwarzkopf's artillery liaison officer. Eventually, Schwarzkopf led the surviving soldiers to safety.
During the 1970s, Schwarzkopf served in the Pentagon, was Deputy Commander of U.S. Forces in Alaska, an Infantry Brigade Commander at Ft. Lewis, Washington, promoted to Brigadier General, became a Plans and Policy Officer at U.S. Pacific Command, served as a Division Commander in West Germany, promoted to Major General, commanded a Mechanized Infantry Division at Ft. Stewart, Georgia, was heavily involved in the skirmish in Grenada. By 1985, he had been assigned to duty again at the Pentagon, was promoted to Lieutenant General, returned to Ft. Lewis, Washington, as Commanding General of I Corps, then back to the Pentagon as Deputy Chief of Staff, promoted to General in 1988, appointed Commander-in-Chief of U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida.
One of his duties as Commander-in-Chief was to formulate plans to defend the oil fields in the Persian Gulf region. When Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1988, Schwarzkopf's plans became the blueprint for Operation Desert Storm. The "left hook" strategy called for U.S. Forces to enter Iraq behind the Iraqi Forces occupying Kuwait -- the ground war lasted only four days.
Schwarzkopf, affable and witty, received a lot of favorable press coverage during Desert Storm, where we was dubbed "Stormin' Norman" by members of the press corp.
"Going to war without the French is like going deer hunting without an accordion." Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf
After the war, he was offered the position of Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army but he turned it down, choosing to retire in 1991.
Stormin' Norman Schwarzkopf passed on to the Great Beyond on December 27, 2012 -- your nation is grateful for your gallant, spirited service.
Rest in Peace.
Quote for the Day -- "As you get older it is harder to have heroes, but it is sort of necessary." Ernest Hemmingway
Bret Burquest is the author of 9 books, including THE REALITY OF THE ILLUSION OF REALITY and 11:11 EARTH TIME (available on Amazon). He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and served in the U.S. Army in 1966-68 during the Vietnam Conflict.