Norman Schwarzkopf's Rule System: "Rule 13 says, okay, I've got it. When placed in command, I take charge. But what do I do? The answer is Rule 14: Do what's right. Because we all know, all of us know, basically, when placed in those circumstances, what the moral, what the ethical, what the correct thing to do is. We all know it. So, the true modern leader of today is the one that's, number one, willing to take charge, and willing to do what's right. That's the secret of leadership."
Retired U.S. general Norman Schwarzkopf died Thursday in Tampa at age 78. Known as “Stormin’ Norman,” Schwarzkopf was the commander in chief of the U.S. central command in the five-week Persian Gulf War in 1991 and was regaled for freeing Kuwait from its Iraqi occupiers. In the aftermath, Schwarzkopf was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George H.W. Bush, and Queen Elizabeth II made him an honorary knight. He overcame prostate cancer almost 20 years ago, and he died Thursday from complications from pneumonia.
Old official photographs show a medaled military mannequin, a 6-foot-3-inch 240-pounder with grim determined eyes. But they miss the gentler man who listened to Pavarotti, Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan; who loved hunting, fishing and ballet; and, like any soldier, called home twice a week from the war zone.
Herbert Norman Schwarzkopf Jr. was born on Aug. 22, 1934, in Trenton, one of three children of the man whose name he shared and the former Ruth Bowman. At 18, he dropped the Jr. and his first name but kept the initial. His father, New Jersey’s first state police superintendent, investigated the 1932 Lindbergh kidnapping; he was also a West Point graduate, fought in World Wars I and II, became a major general and trained Iran’s national police in the 1940s.
As a boy, General Schwarzkopf attended Bordentown Military Institute near Trenton. But from 1946 to 1950 he lived in Iran, Switzerland, Germany and Italy with his father. Fluent in French and German at 17, he enrolled at Valley Forge Military Academy in Wayne, Pa., played football and was a champion debater.
At West Point, he was on the football and wrestling teams and sang in the choir. He loved history and dreamed of leading men in battle. “He saw himself as Alexander the Great,” recalled Gen. Leroy Suddath, his old roommate, “and we didn’t laugh when he said it.” In 1956, he graduated 43rd in a class of 480.
On Jan. 17, 1991, a five-month buildup called Desert Shield became Operation Desert Storm as allied aircraft attacked Iraqi bases and Baghdad government facilities. The six-week aerial campaign climaxed with a massive ground offensive, routing the Iraqis from Kuwait in 100 hours before U.S. officials called a halt.
While Schwarzkopf later avoided the public second-guessing by academics and think tank experts over the ambiguous outcome of the first Gulf War and its impact on the second Gulf War, he told The Washington Post in 2003, "You can't help but ... with 20/20 hindsight, go back and say, `Look, had we done something different, we probably wouldn't be facing what we are facing today.'"
Schwarzkopf is survived by his wife, Brenda, and their three children: Cynthia, Jessica and Christian.