, WASHINGTON, Dec 28 – Norman Schwarzkopf, the US general who led Operation Desert Storm, which liberated Kuwait from Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in 1991, died on Thursday at the age of 78.
Schwarzkopf, an American hero known popularly as “Stormin’ Norman,” died in Tampa, where he retired after his last posting as head of US Central Command, which controls US operations in the Middle East and South Asia.
“The men and women of the Department of Defence join me in mourning the loss of General Norman Schwarzkopf,” Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said.
Panetta said the decorated combat leader – a hulking, shaven-headed bruiser of a commander – had in “35 years of service in uniform left an indelible imprint on the United States military and the country.”
Former president George H. W. Bush, himself sick in intensive care in Texas, was among the first to issue a statement mourning the loss of the man he chose to lead the war that came to define both of their careers.
“Barbara and I mourn the loss of a true American patriot and one of the great military leaders of his generation,” his statement said.
“General 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,” Bush said.
“More than that, he was a good and decent man – and a dear friend. Barbara and I send our condolences to his wife Brenda and his wonderful family.”
In a major test of the post-Cold War order, Saddam Hussein’s million-man army invaded Kuwait in 1990 and looked set to roll into Saudi Arabia, which would have given him more than 40 percent of the world’s oil reserves.
Bush assembled a coalition of 32 nations and Schwarzkopf was given command of 425,000 US and 118,000 allied soldiers, a force which decimated Saddam’s military machine and drove it from Kuwait with minimal allied casualties.
“We’ve lost an American original,” the White House said.
“From his decorated service in Vietnam to the historic liberation of Kuwait and his leadership of United States Central Command, General Schwarzkopf stood tall for the country and Army he loved,” a statement said.
“General 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” – George H. W. Bush.
Born in Trenton, New Jersey in 1934, Schwarzkopf’s connection with the Persian Gulf began when he was just 12 and he went to Iran to join his father, another decorated general, who had been posted there.
Educated in Tehran, Geneva and Frankfurt before returning to the United States to pursue a military career, Schwarzkopf specialized in mechanical engineering at the renowned West Point military college.
He also attended the University of Southern California and the US Army War College.
Upon graduating West Point, he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant and received advanced infantry and airborne training before getting his first foreign posting as an aide-de-camp to the Berlin Brigade in 1960 and 1961.
Schwarzkopf served briefly as an instructor at West Point before heading to Vietnam to join the fast-swelling numbers of US military advisers to the South Vietnamese army.