The Bear is dead

David D. Creekmore

Anyone who wore a military uniform in the 1990’s knew the Bear. H. Norman Schwarzkopf- General, a commanding man who looked after his troops in a manner unknown in the modern military. Not since General Omar N. Bradley has there been a commander of a war time Army that was better cared for by its commander.

As a case in point, when the mission was announced, the only boots that the Army had were black dress boots, or jungle boots. Obviously, these would not work in a desert environment. The General (I will always call him that) sent for samples of every desert boot available. He then wore them for a week in sequence, and said “this one.”  When the paper pushers objected, “We have to test them- it is a long process,” the General said, “Buy these ones. I want my troops comfortable, and unless they have good fitting boots, this is impossible.” He won. 

I could sit here and name off at least 15 other like things he did to assure the comfort and fighting ability of his troops. I knew him briefly back in the 70s. He was a major then but he was the same. We all respected him. Unlike other officers who had famous fathers, he never threw up his family connections.

If you did a little research you found that his father, who had the same name, had been the chief of the New Jersey State police during the Lindbergh baby kidnapping, the capture of Bruno Hauptman, his trial, and execution.  His father later became the Provost Marshal of Europe from 1944- 1945. From being around him, you wouldn’t have known that the Bear came from a famous family. The only person that had more decorations than him was Patton, but the Bears were for combat, and not from allied nation’s giveaways.

It will be a long time before anyone of his caliber achieves high rank. He served 35 years without a blemish on his record. Unlike the present crop of generals, Bear was a devoted family man. He raised, and educated his children which is very difficult when you are being transferred every 18 months.  He is a man who will be missed. Two past presidents sent condolences, and the Secretary of Defense did also.

H. Norman Schwarzkopf is a figure in history now, but those of us that knew him, if even for a handshake, will miss him. His last public statement was two weeks after he retired. He had bought a house near an army post, and had some problems. He was scheduled for an interview, and when asked how he liked retirement, he said, “Last week, I commanded an army. This week, I can’t get a plumber to my house.”

Good bye, Bear. All of your troops miss you.

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