Retired Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr.—the blunt U.S. Central Commander of the first Persian Gulf War in 1991—died Thursday in Tampa, Florida, at the age of 78, a senior defense official told NBC News.
His sister told the AP that the decorated U.S. military veteran died of complications from pneumonia. Gen. Schwarzkopf lived in retirement in Tampa, Florida, until his death on Thursday, a U.S. official told the news agency.
A Vietnam veteran, Gen. Schwarzkopf rose through U.S. Army ranks during the 70s and 80s becoming U.S. Central Commander in 1988.
He later led Operation Desert Storm in 1991 which saw Saddam Hussein’s forces exit Kuwait.
Former U.S Secretary of State Colin Powell—who served as Gen. Schwarzkopf’s boss as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during Operation Desert Storm—described Gen. Schwarzkopf as a good friend and great soldier who served over 35 years.
“With the passing of Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, America lost a great patriot and a great soldier,” said Mr. Powell in a statement released late Thursday.
“His leadership not only inspired his troops, but also inspired the nation. He was a good friend of mine, a close buddy. I will miss him,” he added.
Former U.S. President George H. W. Bush said Gen. Schwarzkopf “epitomized the ‘duty, service, country’ creed.”
“Barbara and I mourn the loss of a true American patriot and one of the great military leaders of his generation,” the former president said in a statement.
“A distinguished member of that ‘Long Gray Line’ hailing from West Point, Gen. Norm Schwarzkopf, to me, epitomized the ‘duty, service, country’ creed that has defended our freedom and seen this great nation through our most trying international crises,” he added.
Recently, he became critical of the 2003 Iraq war and then U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
The former defense secretary reached out via his Twitter page, paying tribute to the iconic U.S. military general.
“Gen. Schwarzkopf led and inspired. Sad to lose someone so devoted to our nation and its troops,” Mr. Rumsfeld said Friday via his Twitter page.
U.S. President Barack Obama released a statement Thursday saying America had lost an American original.
“With the passing of General Norman Schwarzkopf, we’ve lost an American original,” said President Obama via his website.
“Our prayers are with the Schwarzkopf family, who tonight can know that his legacy will endure in a nation that is more secure because of his patriotic service.”
Gen. Schwarzkopf was born in Trenton, New Jersey on August 22, 1934, to Col. H. Norman Schwarzkopf Jr.—his father who was founder and commander of the New Jersey State Police.
“The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it,” he was once quoted as saying.
Following are some quick facts about Gen. Schwarzkopf:
- Schwarzkopf Elementary School in Lutz, Florida, is named in his honour.
- Inducted into New Jersey Hall of Fame in 2008 under the general category along with Toni Morrison and Harriet Tubman.
- Featured on the cover of TIME Magazine in 1991 and 1996.
- Retired from military service in August 1991.
- Author of 1992 autobiography “It Doesn’t Take a Hero.”
- Worked extensively with NBC News as an analyst.
Peter Paul has been a Toronto and International Headlines Examiner for rootshed.com since 2009. Connect with him on Twitter @PeterPaulX or join his Examiner Facebook fan page.