Norman Schwarzkopf Dies; Retired General, Gulf War Commander Was 78

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Retired four-star U.S. Army Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, who led allied forces to a routing of Iraq in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, has died at the age of 78.

Norman Schwarzkopf Photo

President Obama called Schwarzkopf's death a loss of an "American original," adding:

"From his decorated service in Vietnam to the historic liberation of Kuwait and his leadership of U.S. Central Command, General Schwarzkopf stood tall for the country and Army he loved."

"Our prayers are with the Schwarzkopf family, who tonight can know that his legacy will endure in a nation that is more secure because of his patriotic service."

Virtually unknown to the public before the Persian Gulf War, Schwarzkopf became a household name while he oversaw the response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

The war began on January 17, 1991, with a six-week air campaign against Iraq that was followed by a 100-hour ground offensive that pushed Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait.

A Time magazine correspondent described the general, as he prepared his troops along the Kuwaiti border, as a man "with a John Wayne swagger and a growl like a grizzly."

Schwarzkopf, dubbed "Stormin Norman" by his troops because of his reported temper, captured the public's imagination with his plain, frank talk about the war's progress.

He once told a room full of reporters:

"As far as Saddam Hussein being a great military strategist, he is neither a strategist, nor is he schooled in the operational arts, nor is he a tactician, nor is he a general, nor is he a soldier."

"Other than that, he's a great military man, I want you to know that."

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and, therefore, Schwarzkopf's commander, said he inspired the nation.

"`Stormin' Norman' led the coalition forces to victory, ejecting the Iraqi Army from Kuwait and restoring the rightful government," Powell said in a statement.

"His leadership not only inspired his troops, but also inspired the nation. He was a good friend of mine, a close buddy. I will miss him dearly."

Schwarzkopf, a highly decorated Vietnam War veteran, ushered in a new era for U.S. military, whose exploits were broadcast live round-the-clock.

England's Queen Elizabeth II made him an honorary knight, and he received a standing ovation from Congress upon his return to the United States.

Former President George H.W. Bush, who is in intensive care, said the general "epitomized the 'duty, service, country' creed that has defended our freedom."

"He has seen this great nation through our most trying international crises."