Norman Schwarzkopf was born in Trenton, New Jersey. His father was a brigadier general and had headed the investi¬ gation of the famous Lindbergh kidnapping case. Young Schwarzkopf graduated 43rd out of his class of 480 at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and served for two years with the 101st Airborne Division.
Schwarzkopf served in Berlin for two years before returning to West Point as an instruc¬ tor. The start of the Vietnam War changed his plans; he went to serve as a task-force advisor to a South Vietnamese airborne division in 1963.
In all, Schwarzkopf served three tours of duty in Vietnam and won three Silver Stars. His most famous incident came on May 28, 1970, when he chose to be landed in a mine field and lead a group of his men to safety. His devotion to his men, as well as his high temper and self-assurance, led many sol¬ diers to call him “Stormin’ Norman.”
As commander-in-chief of the United States Central Command, Schwarzkopf was the natural choice to lead the war against Iraq (1990-1991). After Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein invaded and seized oil-rich Kuwait, Schwarzkopf was sent to Saudi Arabia to command Operation Desert Shield.
Welding together a coalition of allied forces from European, Middle Eastern and North American countries, Schwarzkopf laid the groundwork for the invasion of Kuwait and the ejection of Iraqi troops. After a month of fierce aerial bombardment that failed to persuade Hussein to withdraw, Schwarzkopf was given the green light to unleash Operation Desert Storm.
The cam¬ paign lasted approximately 100 hours, from February 23 to February 27, 1991. Schwarzkopf’s meticulous preparation paid off as his coalition forces outflanked, out¬ fought and routed the Iraqi army. When a cease-fire was called on February 27,Schwarzkopf had not only liberated Kuwait, but he stood in a position to push all the way to Baghdad and remove Saddam Hussein from power.
That was not to be the case. President George Bush of the U.S. and head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell declared themselves satisfied that the United Nations’ objectives had been attained. The war ended, with Kuwait freed and Hussein corralled, but still in power in Iraq.
Schwarzkopf returned home a hero. He addressed both houses of the U.S. Congress and led a ticker-tape parade in New York City. He received an honorary knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II of England. Mentioned by some as a possible candidate for president in 1992, Schwarzkopf dismissed such talk as rumors. Instead he embarked on a promotional tour for his best-selling book, It Doesn’t Take a Hero (1992).