RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – One of the country’s most revered military leaders, retired General Norman Schwarzkopf, died Thursday from complications from pneumonia. He was 78 years old.
Many remember Schwarzkopf from the first Gulf War, including veterans from our area are recalling Schwarzkopf as their “can do” general.
Veteran Jonathan Harmon never knew or even met Norman Schwarzkopf, but the general’s passing is hitting close to home.
“He was just a tremendous leader. A tremendous leader and what we would call in the Army a soldier’s soldier,” Harmon said. “It’s a big deal. It’s a very big deal.”
When Harmon from Goochland marched confidently off to war as a 25-year-old 1st Lt. in 1990, he did so knowing his leader was no armchair general.
“I personally feel and the soldiers I was in charge of we felt we were in good hands,” Harmon said. “It is so important for those that you are fighting with to have the utmost confidence in the leadership that is in place.”
Before rising to fame fighting Saddam Hussein, Schwarzkopf was a decorated soldier who served two tours in Vietnam.
“That is why people in those positions are most effective because they understand what they do affects the lives of other Americans,” Harmon said.
The man known affectionately as “Stormin’ Norman” was the architect of one of the US military’s most decisive victories.
“The original plans for Desert Storm and Desert Shield came from him and they were in my view flawless,” Harmon said.
Harmon says serving in the Army’s famed First Cavalry Division under a leader like Schwarzkopf ranks high on his list of achievements.
“I think people appreciate what General Schwarzkopf has done but I think he will rank up there with one of the greatest generals in American History,” Harmon said.
Harmon admires his late leader. During Desert Storm the intrepid Schwarzkopf was decisive as a General who always thought of his soldiers first.
“There is a difference between arrogance and confidence. General Schwarzkopf was confident and sure of himself but he wasn’t arrogant,” said Harmon.
Schwarzkopf did enjoy connections with Richmond. He was a former member of the board of trustees at University of Richmond. He also helped establish the Jepson School of Leadership in the early 1990s.
Schwarzkopf is survived by his wife and three children.