Norman Schwarzkopf, the general who commanded the 30-country coalition that drove Saddam Hussein’s forces out of Kuwait, was remembered both as a larger than life military figure and trusted adviser during his burial ceremony at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point on Thursday.
A 1956 graduate of the military academy, “Stormin’ Norman” was remembered by family, friends, former Secretary of State Colin Powell and former Vice President Dick Cheney at a memorial service in the West Point chapel. The Desert Storm commander with a tough-as-tacks reputation died on Dec. 27 in Tampa, Fla., of complications from pneumonia. He was 78.
Powell, who delivered the general’s eulogy, called Schwarzkopf an "indispensable advisor" to Cheney and the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the lead-up to and during the invasion of Kuwait.
"When anyone thinks of Desert Storm, they think of Stormin' Norman, The Bear; ... he was a larger than life figure," Powell said.
Schwarzkopf served two tours in Vietnam, staying on after a conflict that left many former brothers-in-arms disillusioned with the military.
He was appointed commander in chief of the U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa in 1988. In 1990, he took command of the U.S.-led forces that drove back Hussein’s forces in Operation Desert Storm.
It was the first war televised in real time, and Schwarzkopf, a bulldog clad in desert camouflage, used his TV appearances to send a message to his adversary.
“With those cameras grinding away, I knew I wasn’t talking just to friendly audiences, but that Saddam and his bully boys were watching me on CNN in their headquarters,” Schwarzkopf wrote in his 1992 autobiography.
For the most part, Schwarzkopf receded from public life after Desert Storm, apart from a brief term as a military analyst for NBC. He lived out his retirement in Tampa, emerging to campaign for the re-election of President George W. Bush in 2004.
Despite the urgings of some of his supporters, Schwarzkopf never ran for public office. During the service his daughter, Cynthia, mused that her father was "too honest" to be a politician. She then apologized to Cheney, saying she wrote that before she knew he was attending.
Schwarzkopf “stood tall for the country and Army he loved,” President Obama said in a statement on the general’s passing in December.
The general was buried near his father in the West Point cemetery. Col. H. Norman Schwarzkopf was a 1917 graduate of the military academy who went on to help found the New Jersey State Police.
“I just would be very happy if the history books said that I was a soldier who served his country with honor and loved his troops and loved his family,” Schwarzkopf once said. “That’s enough for me.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.