On January 12th at 10:00, following a gracious invitation from the Daughters of the American Revolution, I will be speaking at the First Methodist Church in Farmerville. The reason I am telling you this is that I was sitting at my computer urgently preparing to get my article done before my early dead line expired. My article was going to be about the history of the DAR, a very noble organization that epitomizes the best in our country. As I researched for the article my patriotic fervor was becoming rekindled. I was thinking of what I was going to talk about on the 12th. My second book, “Desert Burning”, would be the subject. It was a novel about an oil field worker from a rural town in North Louisiana and living in Saudi Arabia. The story begins a week before Iraq invaded Kuwait and continued through the war. As I thought of the patriotic spirit of the Daughters of the American Revolution my thoughts drifted to a time twenty-two years earlier. It seemed like yesterday when the BBC announced that Kuwait had been invaded by Iraq. I thought of my upcoming talk and began typing my article when suddenly my computer erupted. Gen. Norm Schwarzkopf had died. I knew that the subject of my article had just changed.
For several days after the invasion of Kuwait the Americans in Saudi Arabia were in a vacuum. Aramco, my company, denied there was any real concern. Saudi press carried no stories. Suddenly it was announced that the 82nd Air Borne Division was on its way. Several days later the world was introduced to Norman Schwarzkopf, Commander of Southern Command and the man to lead the coalition in Saudi Arabia. When I first saw him I thought he reminded me of Jonathan Winters, a comedian from the 50s and 60s. I soon learned that this was my biggest mis-judgement in character that I have ever made.
“Strorman Norman” as he was called, was tough on his generals but was very soft on his troops. He was a soldiers general and reminds one of general Omar Bradley. Schwarzkopf attended West Point, just as his father had done. Norman told of his first day at the academy. He stood and looked at the commander of the senior class looking so great on top of his horse in front of the troops. He said he could never look that magnificent with his physique; however, four years later he sat atop his horse as the commander of his senior class.
He volunteered for Viet Nam and won three silver stars for bravery. At a press conference I remember he mentioned the shock of being trapped in a mine field and then coming under mortar attack. A couple of young inexperienced journalists thought it was amusing and snickered. Schwarzkopf’s entire demeanor changed, he stiffened and asked if that was funny, if they had ever been in that situation and proceeded to let the room know it was not an experience to be in nor was there anything funny about it. There were no more giggles and a new respect covered the general.
While in Riyadh he slept on an army cot covered by a sleeping bag just feet away from his head quarters. He had his troops ready for an attack into Kuwait. As I traveled north to the Kuwaiti border to fight the largest spill in the world I was perplexed to see the military vehicles moving south and little going north toward Kuwait. Schwarzkopf was moving his entire army west and finally invaded directly into Iraq and not Kuwait. A magnificent move to shift his entire army while the aircraft kept Iraq guessing.
He said his only mistake that he regretted was when he accepted the surrender of Iraq. The Iraqi generals, dressed in full formal military dress, did not believe he was Schwarzkopf. No American General of his stature would appear at the proceedings in his camouflaged desert fatigues. But there was no state department official at the surrender. Schwarzkopf agreed that the Iraqis could keep their armed helicopters for self defense but jets would stay grounded. Unfortunately the Iraqis turned the gun ships on their own Shiites during a quick attempt to overthrow Hussein.
The war and how the civilians in Iraq supported the many troops will be the subject of my talk on the 12th and “yes” General Normal Schwarzkopf will be there.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s