‘Stormin’ Norman,’ 1934–2012

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Lynne Sladky / AP

General Norman Schwarzkopf waves to the crowd after a military band played a song in his honor during a welcome home ceremony at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla. on April 22, 1991.

For those who came of age during World War II, or post-9/11, the death Thursday of retired Army general H. Norman Schwarzkopf may not be of great moment. But for those of us who came of age during Vietnam, when that war veered from the discredited Gulf of Tonkin to the Tet Offensive to Kent State, he was a godsend.

While there was trepidation before the Persian Gulf War began in January 1991 — a six-week bombing onslaught followed by a 96-hour ground campaign — it pitted a Cold War superpower against Iraqi despot Saddam Hussein (it was a mismatch that would have to be replayed 12 years later). Nonetheless, the U.S. went wild after the U.S.-led coalition pushed Iraqi forces out of Kuwait.

After a six-month buildup in Saudi Arabia that looked like a martial bolero, Schwarzkopf burst into American living rooms just about the same time CNN did. As intrepid Cable News Network crews stationed in Baghdad followed the twists and turns of incoming Tomahawk cruise missiles, Schwarzkopf briefed reporters from his headquarters in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, two weeks into the war.


“I’m now going to show you a picture of the luckiest man in Iraq,” Schwarzkopf said as a video of an air strike against an Iraqi bridge appeared on a television screen. “Keep your eye on the crosshairs.” A vehicle appeared, driving across the bridge, as an American pilot targeted the span. The truck drove into, and across, the bomber’s crosshairs, and then scooted off screen. “And now, in his rear-view mirror,” Schwarzkopf quipped, as an explosion filled the screen, destroying the bridge, but leaving the Iraqi truck driver alive.

Schwarzkopf was a bona fide American hero, complete with a New York parade and talks of a presidential run. There had been no such military heroes in this country since World War II’s Dwight Eisenhower. “By God,” declared President George H.W. Bush, himself now ailing at a Houston hospital, “we’ve licked the Vietnam syndrome once and for all.”

The son of the superintendent of the New Jersey state police, who investigated the kidnapping and murder of aviator Charles Lindbergh’s infant son in 1932, Schwarzkopf made the Army his career. He won recognition in Vietnam for taking care of the soldiers under his command and ended up as the third commander of U.S. Central Command, the Pentagon post responsible for the Middle East and Persian Gulf region, in 1988. (His two most recent successors, Army General David Petraeus and incumbent Marine General John Allen, have found their careers derailed, at least temporarily, by scandal.)

(MORE: Desert Storm Commander Norman Schwarzkopf Dies)

“General Schwarzkopf’s skilled leadership of that campaign liberated the Kuwaiti people and produced a decisive victory for the allied coalition,” Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Thursday night. “In the aftermath of that war, General Schwarzkopf was justly recognized as a brilliant strategist and inspiring leader.”

Following his incandescent fame, Schwarzkopf retired to Tampa six months after the Gulf War’s end. He died there, of complications related to pneumonia, at 78.

Reporters had their own shorthand to spell his complicated surname right: “War Kop, no T.” Battleland can recall taking his two young sons to the Gulf War victory parade in Washington on June 8, 1991, down by the Lincoln Memorial. He was proud to show them what the U.S. military can do when the stars align.

MORE: The Commander: Stormin’ Norman Schwarzkopf on Top


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Unfortunately, we lost this hero. RIP

We needed your leadership and will never forget you.


i thought bullies were a bad thing? What was "Stormin' Norman" but a bully?


Stormin' Norman was the Last Real American.

I remember the days when real Republicans noised about him as a presidential candidate.

Now the GOP is simply a rabid rat hole full of idiots and hate mongers.

What will we have for conservative icons now?  A fat Oxycontin addict who "ladles" hate on his self denigrating dittohead menagerie?

Don_Bacon 1 Like

The Gulf War was of course ridiculous, beating up on a third world country and killing a bunch of people to free -- Kuwait. Americans  loved it, but it brought much more suffering to Iraqis and then another terrible war (which really isn't over yet).

The man who led it though was a general to be highly admired, which is not common enough. from Academy of Achievement: (quote)

. . .In 1969, [Lieutenant] Colonel Schwarzkopf returned to Vietnam as a battalion commander.

One of the most remarkable incidents in a distinguished career happened on this tour. When Colonel Schwarzkopf received word that men under his command had encountered a minefield, he rushed to the scene in his helicopter. 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 injured but remained conscious. As the wounded man flailed in agony, the soldiers around him feared that he would set off another mine. Schwarzkopf, also injured by the explosion, crawled across the minefield to the wounded man and held him down 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, killing himself and the two men closest to him, and blowing the leg off of Schwarzkopf's liaison officer. Eventually, Colonel Schwarzkopf led his surviving men to safety. He was awarded the Silver Star for his bravery but, more importantly to Norman Schwarzkopf, he cemented his reputation as an officer who would risk anything for the soldiers under his command.

HappyAmerican 1 Like

Don_Bacon beating up on a third world nation... shame on us Don... we are the source of evil in the world. After all what business is it of ours to stop one dictator nation from beating up on Kuwait. We should have just let it happen, same with Serbia. it's all working out your way these days. We are leading from behind. Al Qaeda is on the run, wait, maybe not, Iraq is stable wait maybe not.. Afghanistan is stable, wait maybe not... I think if we just talk nice to these folks and give them their space it will all work out... said no one ever.


@HappyAmerican Are you suggesting that other countries beat up on the U.S. because it beats up on third world countries? Is your doctrine a universal one, or does it apply only to the U.S?  In any case, it isn't working, is it, as you indicate with your "wait maybe not." The U.S. with its wrongful policies has been creating enemies, on balance. But a few profit from it so wait, why not?

Again, this was above Schwarzkopf's pay grade and does nothing to detract from his honorable service, discounting the careless anecdote about the guy on the bridge.


@yalen.alex @Don_Bacon @HappyAmerican Basically for the country to live in the world just as you (I assume) and I live in our neighborhoods. Be a good neighbor, law-abiding and charitable, and depend upon the police when someone disturbs the peace in the neighborhood.  What we don't do in out neighborhoods is to call in an airstrike on a 7-11 holdup.

In other words, have a foreign policy similar to most other countries in the world which don't go beating up on countries on the other side of the earth, or closer. It's not rocket science, is it. It's normal human behavior, whereas the US with its eternal war has been acting abnormally.  Insanely, even. Makes no sense, except for the war profiteers.

Sign on to that, and you have membership in the Smedley Butler Society.

MrObvious 2 Like


If we're the source of evil in the world I'd be curious to hear you state what you think of other evils.

I find the notion of 'evil' kind of silly and although we sometimes turn things into shit, there's no doubt that the world is already knee deep in it without our fault.

Fla4Me 1 Like

It seems that the general was a good commander who was successful in carrying out mission.  He seems to have been a good example of how we want our generals to conduct themselves.  For these things he should be respected.  The shame is that he is know for being involved in a "war" that should never have been.  I can't help but remember April Glaspie's words to Saddam Hussein prior to his attack that "we have no opinion on Arab-Arab conflicts".


Stormin' Norman,

lordofthefly 2 Like

This general had his critics, but he was a genuine hero. When you consider hot dogs like Petraeus and McChrystal and the sad state of our military with its rapes, suicides and wayward strategies, Stormin' Norman may be remembereed as our last really great general. 

jalangaya 1 Like

Norman's old Commander-in-Chief from the first vanity war against Iraq will soon join him down below. Maybe they can storm the gates of Hell together, to Hosannas from the media.

lordofthefly 1 Like

@jalangaya Maybe you'll meet up with him there, too. 

Be sure to see the brilliant cover of The Economist about Hell. They've got Petrtaeus to a "t."

efrustrated 2 Like

As a Brit, it's difficult to share in the gung ho enthusiasm on this subject. For me and a lot of us on the other side of the pond, he was another puppet for all that is dark in US foreign policy and involved in some of the initial actions which resulted in the current and largely unnecessary wreckage between the west and the middle east.

This, supposedly in the name of liberation and our protection against some shadowy bogeyman, but in reality oil and payback for naughty tinpot dictators who didn't toe the line any more, creating a thousand more bogeymen than ever existed previously.

My sincere condolences to his family, may he rest in peace.

Don_Bacon 1 Like

@efrustrated In the States this short "war", which included the infamous "turkey shoot" on the "Highway of Death" was extremely popular. Iraqi soldiers had been bayoneting babies in incubators, etc. Not. Kuwait (where the hell is that?) must be saved. Many called it the yellow ribbon war, coming from the song. There were yellow ribbons on cars, on trees, many places. If you weren't in the US, and most of the world wasn't, then it's understandably difficult to understand the enthusiasm. 

The propaganda was good, also. It's best in affairs of this kind to demonize one evil person, and as you see on the TIME cover the Main Stream Media enthusiastically grabbed on the demon theory with Saddam Hussein (a former US ally) as the Demon-In-Charge.

raidx259 6 Like

Right, so I guess you had/have a better plan for Kuwait, right?

You know all you Europeans make me want to puke. All I heard from you before the war was how we were going in there because all we wanted was to steal Iraqi 'petrol'. Well guess what, Saddam offered us oil for $10 or something ridiculous if we left him in power. That sure as heck would help right now, but instead we are all here paying almost $4 for a gallon of unleaded. 

We could have literally done whatever we wanted with Iraq's oil supplies, yet are have almost completely withdrawn from that country and left it to the fate of its own citizens.

Every time there is a humanitarian catastrophe we are the ones that send tons of supplies to help those in needs around the world. Even when often those same people turn around and slap us in the face. And when we don't people are whining and calling on us to meet our moral responsibility to help those in need.

What about the massacre in Bosnia. All you Europeans were sipping tea getting nothing done while a holocaust was taking place and getting absolutely nothing done. It took us to come in there and kick a $ $ for the atrocities to come to an end. 

And about your 'dark US foreign policy', can you be any more hypocritical? You ought to know better since little over a century ago the UK had the largest empire the world has ever seen. How do you think the British Empire got so big and maintained its size? By sitting with its colonies and singing kumbaya? Or do I need to remind you that your war with China (started by you) was because the Chinese government was tired of seeing British opium companies turning their entire nation into a land of addicts? 

My suggestion to you: in 2013 see if you can get an appointment with your proctologist so he can help you get your head out of your a $ $.

Fla4Me 2 Like

Lets try and remember the history first.  We had long history with Saddam.  He was our boy for years when he was at his worst and it was convenient.  So Iraq has a conflict over Kuwait cross drilling into Iraq.  Our ambassador tells Saddam " we have no opinion on Arab-Arab conflicts".  So he invades and we go after him for it.   That doesn't strike you as a bit odd?  I also love the part about Saddam being hung before there was any discussion/interview with him about his invovlement with the US over many years.


@Don_Bacon @Fla4Me Oh yeah he wasn't Secretary of State that was my bad..doesn't change the fact that your routine asinine.


@BrianEs @Don_Bacon @Fla4Me Ha ha That's a good one. When the photo was snapped Rummy was President of G. D. Searle & Company, a worldwide pharmaceutical company, and acting (as the caption says) as Reagan's special envoy. 

Is that your best shot, genius?


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