On Thursday, America laid to rest one of its most distinguished heroes.
Retired Army Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf (1934-2012) was buried at West Point in a funeral attended by friends, family, and former colleagues. In the place where he began his career six decades ago, more than 100 cadets, senior military officials, government leaders, staff and faculty paid their final respects to the man they simply called "The Bear".
The commander of coalition forces in the first Gulf War was 78-years-old when he passed away on Dec. 27 in Tampa, Fla. He had been battling complications from pneumonia. The U.S. Military Academy announced that a memorial service was held on Feb. 28 in honor of the four-star general.
The funeral took place 22 years after the liberation of Kuwait and was attended by Kuwaiti officials as well as former U.S. secretary of defense Dick Cheney.
Retired Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, West Point Class of 1956, who passed Dec. 27, 2012, was laid to rest in the West Point Cemetery Feb. 28. Family, friends, classmates, leaders, and cadets gathered to celebrate his memory. He dedicated his life to serving the nation and was honored during a memorial service at the Cadet Chapel followed by an inurnment at the West Point Cemetery.
Family, friends, classmates, and cadets are gathered in the Cadet Chapel to celebrate the memory of retired Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf. His daughter Cindy, retired Gen. Colin Powell, and retired Maj. Gen. Leroy Suddath will pay tribute to Schwarzkopf during the memorial service.
Today family, friends, classmates, leaders, and cadets will gather to celebrate the memory of retired Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf. The Class of 1956 graduate dedicated his life to serving the nation and will be honored during a memorial service at the Cadet Chapel followed by an inurnment at the West Point Cemetery.
At 17, Schwarzkopf was among the youngest in the Corps of Cadets when he joined the academy. He graduated 43rd among 480 cadets and was commissioned as an infantry second lieutenant. He earned his master's in mechanical engineering from the University of Southern California and served as an engineering instructor at West Point for two years.
Retired Gen. Colin Powell, who served as chairman of the joint chiefs of staff under President George H.W. Bush, spoke of working with Schwarzkopf when "Stormin' Norman" was commander-in-chief of U.S. Central Command:
(He) had the greatest intellectual understanding of the need for change . . . . He gained the full confidence of the American people.
On Thursday, the American flag, which Schwarzkopf saluted all his life, waved at half mast as the West Point Band performed full military honors. The tribute became particularly poignant when Army soldiers conducted a 17-gun salute and the band solemnly played "Taps" against the backdrop of a soft upstate New York wind.
Soon after, Army chief of staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno provided Brenda Schwarzkopf, the wife of the general, a folded American flag at the conclusion of the funeral. Gen. Schwarzkopf had spent his retirement days in Tampa, where Central Command is headquartered, and was active in charitable organizations and military non-profit groups.
Near the funeral, Rolling Thunder, a military advocacy group, confronted a group of protesters from the Westboro Baptist Church, who claimed the general failed to speak out against gays and gay marriage.
Schwarzkopf was buried near his father, Maj. Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf Sr., at the West Point Cemetery. His father was a 1917 West Point graduate and cavalry officer, was a World War I veteran and founder of the New Jersey State Police and served as its first superintendent.
Retired Maj. Gen. Leroy Suddath, who met Schwarzkopf 61 years ago, delivered the following memorial tribute. "He was a leader in the Corps of Cadets and, for Norman, academics were a piece of cake. He spent more time helping his roommates than on his own studies."
He was a strong supporter of the Starlight Foundation, an organization dedicated to rescuing children from abusive situations. He was a champion for the wounded warriors … and a national spokesperson for cancer awareness. He never wavered from a life of duty, honor, country.
He was not just a bright light in the Long Gray Line, he was one of the brightest lights in the Long Gray Line and we will miss him.
Daughter Cynthia Schwarzkopf, who fought back tears, remembered her dad simply for the loving father that he was:
Where the public remembers the war hero, dressed in desert camouflage or wearing a uniform decorated with medals and ribbons, we remember a father who would dress up in clown costume … to perform magic tricks at our childhood birthday parties.
In life, when duty called, he was there. Duty, honor, country was his creed. Doing what was right was his guide.
Norman Schwarzkopf graduated from West Point in 1956 and served two tours in Vietnam. He served in Grenada as an Army advisor to the Navy and later became commander-in-chief of the U.S. Army Central Command.
In Vietnam, "Stormin' Norman" told troops under his command that they may hate his strict rules but it was for their own good. "When you get on that plane to go home, if the last thing you think about me is 'I hate that son of a bitch', then that is fine because you're going home alive," said Schwarzkopf.
In the Persian Gulf, Gen. Schwarzkopf engineered a massive flanking attack that surprised Saddam Hussein's elite Republican Guard. Decimated Iraqi forces soon surrendered en masse. Remaining loyalists scrambled to get out of Kuwait. Iraq's dictator, who commanded the fourth largest army in the world, negotiated a ceasefire just a few days after the ground war began.
After liberating Kuwait, Schwarzkopf lobbied American political leaders to authorize him to move U.S. forces to Baghdad to remove Hussein from power. However, he was overruled by the Bush White House, in part due to fears that American troops could be subjected to chemical warfare by a desperate regime, and that removal of the dictator could lead to wider regional instability given the diverse ethnic factions that live in Iraq and neighboring countries.
After winning the Gulf War, Schwarzkopf returned to his alma mater. In a speech at West Point, the general reminded cadets of the importance of "leading America's sons and daughters" in future wars. Schwarzkopf told plebes that they should ignore the cynicism of critics because, in times of national emergency, such skeptics would ultimately not be there for their country.
Schwarzkopf also said that leaders require two traits: character and competence.
. . . . If you leave here with the word DUTY implanted in your mind; if you leave here with the word HONOR carved in your soul; if you leave here with love of COUNTRY stamped on your heart, then you will be a twenty-first century leader worthy . . . of the great privilege and honor . . . of leading . . . the sons and daughters of America . . . — from a speech in Eisenhower Hall Theater to the Corps of Cadets on May 15,1991
He set his star by a simple motto: duty, honor, country. Only rarely does history grant a single individual the ability, personal charisma, moral force, and intelligence to command the respect, admiration, and affection of an entire nation. But such a man is General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, commander of the Allied Forces in the Gulf War. Now, in this refreshingly candid and typically outspoken autobiography, General Schwarzkopf reviews his remarkable life and career: the events, the adventures, and the emotions that molded the character and shaped the beliefs of this uniquely distinguished American leader.
At a business conference in 2010, Norman Schwarzkopf offered his 14 rules of leadership:
1. Think of yourself as a leader. Leaders lead people, not systems, processes et al.
2. Character. Requires sense of duty, ethics, morality – it is not a measure of competence. In times of crisis, people pick character to follow. Have strength of character – a prerequisite to having the courage to do the right thing.
3. Leadership must be respected, even though not loved. Make it happen and take responsibility. You can delegate authority, and still take responsibility. It is more important to be respected than to be loved. Leaders do not seek to be pleasing first.
4. The true rewards of leadership come from leadership itself – not the next promotion or tangible reward. Do not seek rewards; leadership is its own reward.
5. No organization will get better until leadership admits that something is broken. The prevalent can do attitude must be willing to accept you can’t do before you know something has to change.
6. The climate must allow people to speak up.
7. Leaders establish goals for an organization. They must be understood and know their role in teaching the goal. FOCUS is the number #1 goal in the military. The greater the number of goals, the more confusion you get. Creating focus is the number #1 priority for a leader. Excellent leaders instill focus by creating shared goals that are clear and understood; everyone understands their roles in achieving the shared goals.
8. Leaders set high standards; they don’t accept low standards. They set expectations. People go to work to succeed, not to fail.
9. Leaders set high standards and clarify their expectations. They then expect that people will go to work on achieving these standards.
10. Recognize and reward success – it is infectious. Failure is contagious. Leaders recognize and reward success. They understand deeply that both successes as well as failure are contagious.
11. Accept a few mistakes. Provide the latitude to learn. Leaders accept a few mistakes but also, create the latitude and atmosphere to learn.
12. Don’t tell them how to do the job – simply allocate resources, set standards and the results will exceed your expectations. Leaders do not deal with how to get the job done; they surround themselves with talent and then allocate resources and remove roadblocks to enable the talent to excel. Love the troops. Leaders love their troops and let them know in many ways.
13. When placed in command, take charge. Even if the decision is bad, you have set change in motion. It is better than being stagnant. When placed in command, take charge.
14. Do what is right. It is a sign of character. Have strength of character – a prerequisite to having the courage to do the right thing. Do the right thing – have the moral courage to do the right thing.
Last December, the Associated Press published an obituary for Norman Schwarzkopf:
Retired Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, who topped an illustrious military career by commanding the U.S.-led international coalition that drove Saddam Hussein's forces out of Kuwait in 1991 but kept a low public profile in controversies over the second Gulf War against Iraq, died Thursday. He was 78.
Schwarzkopf died in Tampa, Florida, where he had lived in retirement, according to a U.S. official, who was not authorized to release the information publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
A much-decorated combat soldier in Vietnam, Schwarzkopf was known popularly as "Stormin' Norman" for a notoriously explosive temper.
He served in his last military assignment in Tampa as commander-in-chief of U.S. Central Command, the headquarters responsible for U.S. military and security concerns in nearly 20 countries from the eastern Mediterranean and Africa to Pakistan.
Schwarzkopf became "CINC-Centcom" in 1988 and when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait three years later to punish it for allegedly stealing Iraqi oil reserves, he commanded Operation Desert Storm, the coalition of some 30 countries organized by then-President George H.W. Bush that succeeded in driving the Iraqis out.
At the peak of his postwar national celebrity, Schwarzkopf — a self-proclaimed political independent — rejected suggestions that he run for office, and remained far more private than other generals, although he did serve briefly as a military commentator for NBC.
While focused primarily in his later years on charitable enterprises, he campaigned for President George W. Bush in 2000 but was ambivalent about the 2003 invasion of Iraq, saying he doubted victory would be as easy as the White House and Pentagon predicted. In early 2003 he told the Washington Post the outcome was an unknown:
"What is postwar Iraq going to look like, with the Kurds and the Sunnis and the Shiites? That's a huge question, to my mind. It really should be part of the overall campaign plan," he said.
Initially Schwarzkopf had endorsed the invasion, saying he was convinced that former Secretary of State Colin Powell had given the United Nations powerful evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. After that proved false, he said decisions to go to war should depend on what U.N. weapons inspectors found.
He seldom spoke up during the conflict, but in late 2004, he sharply criticized then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the Pentagon for mistakes that included inadequate training for Army reservists sent to Iraq and for erroneous judgments about Iraq.
"In the final analysis I think we are behind schedule. ... I don't think we counted on it turning into jihad (holy war)," he said in an NBC interview.
Schwarzkopf was born Aug. 22, 1934, in Trenton, New Jersey, where his father, Col. H. Norman Schwarzkopf Jr., founder and commander of the New Jersey State Police, was then leading the investigation of the Lindbergh kidnap case, which ended with the arrest and 1936 execution of German-born carpenter Richard Hauptmann for stealing and murdering the famed aviator's infant son.
The elder Schwarzkopf was named Herbert, but when the son was asked what his "H'' stood for, he would reply, "H." Although reputed to be short-tempered with aides and subordinates, he was a friendly, talkative and even jovial figure who didn't like "Stormin' Norman" and preferred to be known as "the Bear," a sobriquet given him by troops.
He also was outspoken at times, including when he described Gen. William Westmoreland, the U.S. commander in Vietnam, as "a horse's ass" in an Associated Press interview.
As a teenager Norman accompanied his father to Iran, where the elder Schwarzkopf trained the country's national police force and was an adviser to Reza Pahlavi, the young Shah of Iran.
Young Norman studied there and in Switzerland, Germany and Italy, then followed in his father's footsteps to West Point, graduating in 1956 with an engineering degree. After stints in the U.S. and abroad, he earned a master's degree in engineering at the University of Southern California and later taught missile engineering at West Point.
In 1966 he volunteered for Vietnam and served two tours, first as a U.S. adviser to South Vietnamese paratroops and later as a battalion commander in the U.S. Army's Americal Division. He earned three Silver Stars for valor — including one for saving troops from a minefield — plus a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart and three Distinguished Service Medals.
While many career officers left military service embittered by Vietnam, Schwarzkopf was among those who opted to stay and help rebuild the tattered Army into a potent, modernized all-volunteer force.
After Saddam invaded Kuwait in August 1990, Schwarzkopf played a key diplomatic role by helping to persuade Saudi Arabia's King Fahd to allow U.S. and other foreign troops to deploy on Saudi territory as a staging area for the war to come.
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 on Feb. 24-28, routing the Iraqis from Kuwait in 100 hours before U.S. officials called a halt.
Schwarzkopf said afterward he agreed with Bush's decision to stop the war rather than drive to Baghdad to capture Saddam, as his mission had been only to oust the Iraqis from Kuwait.
But in a desert tent meeting with vanquished Iraqi generals, he allowed a key concession on Iraq's use of helicopters, which later backfired by enabling Saddam to crack down more easily on rebellious Shiites and Kurds.
While he later avoided the public second-guessing by academics and think tank experts over the ambiguous outcome of Gulf War I and its impact on Gulf War II, 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.'"
After retiring from the Army in 1992, Schwarzkopf wrote a best-selling autobiography, "It Doesn't Take A Hero." Of his Gulf war role, he said, "I like to say I'm not a hero. I was lucky enough to lead a very successful war." He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II and honored with decorations from France, Britain, Belgium, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain.
Schwarzkopf was a national spokesman for prostate cancer awareness and for Recovery of the Grizzly Bear, served on the Nature Conservancy board of governors and was active in various charities for chronically ill children.
"I may have made my reputation as a general in the Army and I'm very proud of that," he once told the AP. "But I've always felt that I was more than one-dimensional. I'd like to think I'm a caring human being. ... It's nice to feel that you have a purpose."
Schwarzkopf and his wife, Brenda, had three children: Cynthia, Jessica and Christian.
Live so that when the final summons comes you will leave something more behind you than an epitaph on a tombstone . . . | Billy Sunday
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