America lost one of its greats on Thursday, with the passing of retired General Norman Schwarzkopf in Tampa, Florida at 78 due to complications from pneumonia. Known for his staggering military career, philanthropic efforts, and occasional outbursts, "Stormin' Norman" was a true American hero and exemplified the American spirit.
Being the son of the founder and commander of the New Jersey State Police — Col. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, Sr. — it appears that Schwarzkopf was destined to become a commanding officer from the start.
During his teens, Schwarzkopf’s family relocated to Iran, where his father was participated in the CIA-led Operation Ajax. In addition to Iran, Schwarzkopf also studied in Germany, Switzerland, and Italy as a young man, before opting to attend West Point.
Graduating from West Point with an engineering degree in 1956, Schwarzkopf eventually decided to attend the University of Southern California, where he earned a master’s degree in engineering.
Schwarzkopf initially started his military career in 1966, when he volunteered for Vietnam. He served two-tours in the war and earned an array of medals, including a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart, and three Silver Star awards — one of which was awarded for rescuing soldiers from a minefield.
After the Vietnam War ended, Schwarzkopf elected to stay in the U.S. Army, and was eventually promoted to Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Central Command in 1988 — a promotion that would serve him well just three years later.
Thrown on to the national stage in 1991, Schwarzkopf's commanding of over 30-countries in Operation Desert Storm earned him worldwide respect and admiration. In that campaign, a coalition led by the U.S. ousted Iraqi occupiers from Kuwait. It would be the final brick laid down on an incredible career, as he elected to retire in August of 1991 — just 6-months after Desert Storm.
After retiring from the U.S. Army Schwarzkopf released his autobiography in 1992, titled It Doesn't Take A Hero, which detailed his experiences during the Gulf War.
Schwarzkopf also became heavily involved in charity work, including raising awareness of prostate cancer — due to his diagnosis and successful treatment of the disease. Schwarzkopf was also a major donor and advocate for Camp Boggy Creek, which is a camp that focuses on enriching the quality of life for kids with life-threatening illnesses.
Although usually staying out of the spotlight during his retirement, Schwarzkopf did serve as a military analyst for NBC during Operation Iraqi Freedom and publicly endorsed, both, George W. Bush and John McCain for president.
Schwarzkopf's dedication to his country is surpassed by few and admired by many. By not only serving his country in the U.S. Army, but also serving his fellow man through charity, it shows that Schwarzkopf possessed true compassion for people and the wellness of America.