This article was published on March 7, 1991, days after the U.S.-led coalition drove Iraqi forces out of Kuwait.

Gannett News Service

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf - whose force overwhelmed the world's fourth largest army in 100 hours of ferocious ground attack - is a man who falls asleep to tapes of loons on a lake or geese on the wing.

In the months leading up to Operation Desert Storm, the 56-year-old four-star Army general, known as "the Bear," took time out from his 18-hour days to explain his contrasting sides to reporters.

"The image I'm going to portray to Saddam Hussein and the enemy is that of a grizzly bear," he said before the war began. "I'm going to do everything I can to viciously destroy them as rapidly as possible.

"But the reason why I'm going to do that is because I'm also a teddy bear, and I love my soldiers and sailors and airmen and Marines and I don't want to get them killed.

"I want to get the damn thing over with. I won't hold anything back."

In the end, the 6-foot-3, 230-pound commander followed the muddy-boot examples of his heroes, Civil War generals Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman.

Both, Schwarzkopf said, hated war intensely but fought it ferociously and didn't care who got the credit.

"I'm not one of those right-wing military conservatives who says the greatest day of my life was when I went to war," Schwarzkopf said.

"In a lot of ways I am a pacifist, though that might be too strong a word. But I know what war is. I am certainly anti-war. But I also believe there are things worth fighting for."

Lt. Gen. Peter de la Billiere, head of British forces in the gulf and a close friend, calls Schwarzkopf "the man of the match," who delivered a victory as much by force of personality as by careful planning.

"It is his brilliance, his leadership, his drive, his determination and - if I have to say it, although I work alongside him and am a great friend of his - occasionally his rudeness, that has got things done and got them done so damned efficiently and enabled us to win this war," de la Billiere said.

Gen. Colin Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, calls Schwarzkopf "a statesman who understands the political and diplomatic dimensions of a national security issue."

There is talk in Washington that Schwarzkopf may be rewarded with a fifth star and, possibly, a shot at national politics.

The general, who is due to retire this summer after 35 years in the service, said only that he longs to be with his wife, Brenda, and children Cynthia, 20, Jessica, 18, and Christian, 13.

"I want to come home and be with my family, then go out with all my buddies and shoot sporting clays and then probably go fishing."

Home is Tampa, Fla., headquarters of U.S. Central Command, which Schwarzkopf has led since November 1988.

It's a long way from the sands of Saudi Arabia or the jungles of Vietnam, where the young Schwarzkopf first sharpened his military acumen.

He went to South Vietnam in 1965 as an adviser, did two tours and won a chestful of medals - including two Purple Hearts for combat wounds, three Silver Stars and the Distinguished Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster.

Along the way, he needed spinal surgery to repair back damage from too many parachute drops.

Schwarzkopf, who's also known as "Stormin' Norman" for a temper that can leave aides quivering, was in the spotlight before the gulf war.

He was a battalion commander in 1970 involved in a "friendly fire" incident in which U.S. soldiers were killed in Vietnam. The incident is described in the book and TV movie "Friendly Fire."

Schwarzkopf also commanded U.S. ground forces in the 1983 invasion of Grenada.

Born in Trenton, N.J., Schwarzkopf grew up the son of New Jersey's state police commander - Norman Sr. - who became famous in the 1930s for heading the investigation in the Lindbergh kidnapping case.

The elder Schwarzkopf, an Army general in World War II, served in Iran, where he helped put down a communist rebellion and helped install the late Shah of Iran.

The younger Schwarzkopf spent a year in Iran with his father. He's fluent in French and German and still knows how to curse in Persian. One of his passions, besides skeet and bird shooting, is a collection of antique Arab daggers.

With a genius-level IQ of 170, he graduated in the top 10 percent of his class at West Point and commanded Army units from platoon to corps level.

"Ordinarily, commanding an infantry battalion is the highlight of a military career," he said of his second tour in Vietnam, which ended in 1970.

"Mine wasn't ... because of all the stuff going on back in the states. No one wants to go to war, but if you go, you like to think that your country is behind you."

Vietnam "left a lot of scars," he said. Perhaps the worst was when his troops were on the Cambodian border and not permitted to pursue attackers who would come out to fire on them and then flee back over the border for cover.

"That's not my favorite way to fight a war. When you go to war, you're going to go all the way. That's exactly where I come from. No more Cambodian border situations for me," he said.

Schwarzkopf prides himself on keeping a common touch with the troops: Below the four stars on the collar of his desert camouflage uniform, over the left shirt pocket, are a cherished combat infantryman's badge and paratroop wings.

He may be the only general in U.S. history to be remembered by his boots.

One of his proudest achievements is designing the Army's new 1990s desert boot, with speed laces, ankle and arch supports, lightweight nylon and a lining that soaks up sweat.

Schwarzkopf loves music. A cardboard box by his bed holds cassettes of wildlife sounds as well as Luciano Pavarotti, Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan.

An avid reader, his selections range from Erwin Rommel's "Infantry Attack" to T.E. Lawrence's "Seven Pillars of Wisdom."

Schwarzkopf - who, like Lawrence, forged an alliance of Arab warriors - recalls when he first donned Arab garb years ago at the insistence of his Kuwaiti hosts.

"I put on the robes and it was just like the scene in "Lawrence of Arabia" when the British officer's clothes are taken away and replaced by robes, and he waltzes into the desert, intrigued by their feel and grace.

"I stood in front of the mirror and did the same dance. It was wonderful."

- - -

Read or Share this story: