General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, commander of American-led forces during the 1991 Persian Gulf war, died of complications from pneumonia on Thursday. Schwarzkopf became the nation’s most acclaimed military hero since the mid-century after crushing Iraqi forces.
He was born on August 22, 1934, in Trenton, New Jersey, the son of a West Point graduate who fought in World Wars I and II. He graduated from West Point in 1956, and then served two years with airborne units in America and Europe. He went on to serve in Vietnam and teach at West Point before rising in the ranks to command American-led forces in the Persian Gulf war.
He was a general for a new era. He invented the live TV military briefings that have become so common in every U.S. military conflict. Schwarzkopf's briefings were electrifying television during the liberation of Kuwait from Iraq in a sweeping operation that forced a surrender of Iraqi forces mere days after the operation began.
Schwarzkopf did not ask for this global stage, but as a man given an opportunity at a moment in history he made the most of it.