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General H. Norman Schwarzkopf

General H. Norman Schwarzkopf is the American military leader who headed the international coalition that liberated Kuwait from Iraqi invasion forces during the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

His masterful planning and execution of Desert Shield and Desert Storm are credited with freeing Kuwait with a minimum number of coalition deaths (less than 200), in an extraordinarily brief (100 hour) ground war. General Schwarzkopf's career in the U.S. Army stretched from 1956 to 1991.

General H. Norman Schwarzkopf
General H. Norman Schwarzkopf
Biographical fast facts

Full or original name at birth: Herbert Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr.*

Date, time and place of birth: August 22, 1934, at 4:45 a.m., Trenton, New Jersey, U.S.A.**

Date, place and cause of death: (Alive as of 2012)

Wife: Brenda Pauline Holsinger (m. July 6, 1968)
Wedding took place at the West Point chapel, United States Military Academy, West Point, New York, U.S.A.

Son: Christian Schwarzkopf (b. June 20, 1977)
Daughters: Cynthia Pauline Schwarzkopf (b. August 23, 1970)
Jessica Alice Schwarzkopf (b. March 12, 1972)

Siblings: Ruth Ann Schwarzkopf (b. 1930)
Sally Schwarzkopf (b. February 4, 1932) (sisters)

Father: Herbert Norman Schwarzkopf, Sr. (b. August 28, 1895, Newark, New Jersey - d. November 25, 1958, of pneumonia and lung cancer) (a law enforcement official)
Mother: Ruth Bowman Schwarzkopf (b. 1900, Bluefield, West Virginia - d. October 1976, Walter Reed Medical Center, Washington, D.C., of a heart attack***) (a nurse)

Error corrections or clarifications

* It has long been reported that Schwarzkopf was born "H. Norman Schwarzkopf" because his father detested his first name. While it certainly is true that his father disliked his given name Herbert, he still named his son Herbert Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr., as his birth certificate originally revealed. In January of 1952, his birth certificate was officially changed to show his name "H. Norman Schwarzkopf" excising both Herbert and Jr. from his name.

Also note that a number of sources offer misspellings for General Schwarzkopf's last name. "Schwartzkopf" and "Shwarzkopf" are a couple of the more common errors.

** Some sources erroneously report "Lawrenceville, New Jersey" as Schwarzkopf's place of birth. His family didn't move to their home at 2549 Main Street in Lawrenceville, until after Norman's 1934 birth.

*** General H. Norman Schwarzkopf's mother did not die in 1975, nor 1977, as some sources assert.

Biography - Hobbies

H. Norman Schwarzkopf graduated June 5th, 1956, from the United States Military Academy, West Point, New York. He went on to obtain his Master's degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Southern California (USC) in 1964. His studies focused on guided missile engineering, and also seeing the future potential of computers, he did coursework in computers. He later attended the United States Army War College in the early 1970s.

While primarily known to many as the Commander of the coalition that liberated Kuwait from Iraqi occupation, General Schwarzkopf's military career actually stretched back more than three decades. He was a highly-decorated officer who served two tours of duty in Vietnam (1965-66, 1969-70), and was deputy task force commander of the 1983 U.S. invasion of Grenada following a Cuban-backed coup on that Caribbean island nation. November 18th, 1988 he became a four-star general and was appointed commander of the U.S. Central Command, which included military operations in the Middle East. His father, who had also risen to the rank of general, had spent a good deal of time in the Middle East. As a result, Schwarzkopf recognized the growing strategic importance of the region, and had specifically requested the position.

Not a commander to sit safely ensconced in the rear while his troops faced danger; Schwarzkopf earned a reputation as an officer who would risk his life for the soldiers under his command. This was just one of the many qualities that inspired such an incredible level of morale among his troops.

In 1990, Iraq, then led by Saddam Hussein, invaded its neighbor to the south, Kuwait. President George Bush marshaled a 30 nation coalition to oppose Iraq's invasion. General Schwarzkopf was in charge of the effort, which included the buildup of more than half a million troops from the aforementioned 30 nations, and was termed Operation Desert Shield. Following the passing of a United Nations (UN) deadline demanding Iraq's withdraw from Kuwait by January 15th, 1991, the operation became known as Desert Storm. After a devastating series of air attacks against Iraq, the ground war began. Iraq's defeat was swift, with thousands of Saddam Hussein's troops surrendering without a fight. Iraq's troops were driven out of Kuwait, with the ground portion of the war lasting just 100 hours. Coalition forces suffered fewer than 200 deaths, with Iraq's casualties numbering in the tens of thousands.

Numerous prestigious awards were bestowed upon him following the successful outcome of the war. "On July 3, 1991, President Bush, assisted by Mrs. Bush, awarded me the Presidential Medal of Freedom." The honors came not only from the United States, but grateful nations around the world lined up to confer some of their highest honors on General Schwarzkopf.

After his successful command of Desert Storm operations, he returned home to jubilant public celebrations and victory parades around the country, then retired at the end of August 1991.

His autobiography, It Doesn't Take a Hero, co-written with Peter Petre, was published in 1992. There was much speculation of Schwarzkopf running for political office, possibly even the presidency, but he did not do so, saying, "I absolutely have no desire to go into politics. I hate politics." Schwarzkopf later served as a military analyst for NBC news.

In retirement, medical problems slowed him up a bit as he successfully battled prostate cancer, and later had knee replacement surgery. While in his 70s, he once commented, "I've got all the problems that old men have." General Schwarzkopf divided his time between his Florida home and a home in the mountains of Colorado. Though much of his time was spent in Florida working on his various charitable projects, he often yearned to spend more time with his family at their place at Ski Ranches, near Telluride, Colorado.

During his retirement he also served as host of the cable television news magazine, World Business Review & Health Journal Television, and as co-chairman of the board of the Telluride Foundation.

Back in the 1990s, General Schwarzkopf joined fellow sporting clay enthusiasts in establishing the Children's Home Sporting Clays Classic (now popularly known as the Schwarzkopf Classic). The fundraiser benefits the Children's Home in Tampa, Florida. The Children's Home was founded more than a century ago and is dedicated to helping children who are victims of abuse, neglect or abandonment.

Another of his favorite charities was one that he actually helped found in 1996. Camp Boggy Creek in Eustis, Florida (north of Orlando), each year offers thousands of seriously ill kids weeklong summer camp sessions and family retreat weekends for the whole family. This is all done at no cost to their families. Camp Boggy Creek is a "Hole in The Wall Camp" and was patterned after Paul Newman's original Hole in The Wall Gang Camp in northeastern Connecticut. Newman was also one of the co-founders of Camp Boggy Creek.

Gen. Schwarzkopf's been tagged with several nicknames over the years, including "Schwarzie," a nickname his father also carried through West Point, "Black Smoke 6," "Colonel Nazi," and the more familiar "Stormin' Norman" and "Bear."

He had a passion for magic, winemaking, hunting, skeet shooting, fishing, camping, hiking, skiing, rafting, was a proficient handyman, a voracious reader, and has also enjoyed blackjack. In his early years, he sang in choir, wrestled, played football, soccer, and tennis.

Quotes - In his own words

"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."

On computers: "I left California that summer of 1964 having completed my degree plus an additional semester of coursework in computers--they fascinated me because they were the wave of the future."

On his musical preferences: "There was a place a few blocks from where I lived where the regular piano player was Bobby Troup, who was married to the singer Julie London and gave great renditions of the blues. My tastes in popular music ranged from there all the way to Elvis Presley, but I loved folk music best. I may have been the only captain in the United States Army who listened avidly to The Weavers, and Peter, Paul and Mary. I owned every record Joan Baez made and was a great Bob Dylan fan."

Desert Shield/Storm: "The U.S. military in Vietnam had been accused of regularly sugarcoating the truth in an effort to please the President, and on the basis of bad information the President had made some disastrous decisions. We were not going to repeat that mistake. Every shred of information we gave the President would be the most accurate we had, even if it reflected unfavorably."

Bush and Desert Storm: "I'm very thankful for the fact that the President of the United States [George H. W. Bush] has allowed the United States military and the coalition military to fight this war exactly as it should have been fought. The President, in every case, has taken our guidance and our recommendations to heart, and has acted superbly as the Commander in Chief of the United States."

Persian Gulf War victory: "Then I sat back to watch the victory unfold. In the press reports flowing in, the President was now a hero, Cheney was a hero, and Powell was a hero, while the politicians and military experts who had warned that dire things would happen if we went to war were eating their words. Everybody at headquarters felt very proud. I was happy as hell."

Retirement: "I feel that retired general officers should never miss an opportunity to remain silent concerning matters for which they are no longer responsible."

Old age: "I've got all the problems that old men have."

America, and the future: "Because we have emerged as the only remaining superpower, we have an awesome responsibility both to ourselves as a nation and to the rest of the world. I don't know what that responsibility will mean to the future of our great country, but I shall always remain confident of the American people's ability to rise to any challenge."


The most in-depth of more than four dozen sources consulted in preparing this profile:
In the Eye of the Storm: The Life of General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, by Roger Cohen and Claudio Gatti (1991)
Stormin' Norman: An American Hero by Jack Anderson and Dale Van Atta (1991)
It Doesn't Take a Hero, by General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, written with Peter Petre (1992)

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