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Why do they call it that? Honoring a Tampa Bay hero | News

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Why do they call it that? Honoring a Tampa Bay hero
News, People, Schools
Why do they call it that? Honoring a Tampa Bay hero

General Norman Schwarzkopf came home to Tampa Bay a hero after bringing the first Gulf War to a quick and victorious end. And he is still honored here, in a special way.

Why do they call it Schwarzkopf Elementary School?

"General Schwarzkopf was the commander of all the forces in Kuwait during the first Gulf War in 1991," said Rodney Kite-Powell, curator of history at the Tampa Bay History Center.

"And he was 'the guy.' Soldiers didn't make a move, a plane didn't fly without his go-ahead."

Stormin' Norman Schwarzkopf led a coalition of troops from around the world to kick the Iraqi army out of Kuwait, the neighboring country Iraq had invaded.

Schwarzkopf's strategy -- later called the "Left Hook" -- outflanked the Iraqis.

It shortened a fight that could have lasted weeks and cost thousands of lives into a series of shootouts and surrenders that ended in days with fewer than 200 allies killed.

Schwarzkopf was in charge of the war because he was in charge at Central Command, the American military team that oversees the Middle East. 

US Central Command -- also called CENTCOM -- has its headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base in South Tampa.

After the war, Schwarzkopf came home to the Bay Area. An amazing honor was waiting: a celebration at Tampa Stadium, complete with an All-American dancing Mickey Mouse wearing a red-white-and-blue top hat.

"Kuwait is free today because the United States of America is still the home of the brave," Schwarzkopf told the crowd as he stood in a camouflage uniform embroidered with four stars, indicating his rank of general.

When Schwarzkopf switched from warrior career to peaceful retirement, he decided to stay in Tampa Bay.

And it's here that local leaders bestowed on him another honor. It's one he has said he truly treasures.

A new elementary school in Lutz was given his name.

"The fun thing is there's somebody who is so influential, so powerful, and there's little kids, basically, running around at his school," Kite-Powell said.

When the school's students picked a mascot, they went to Stormin' Norman's other nickname: The Bear.

A stuffed bear in the front office even carries the name "General." That name was also given by the students.

They're kids who come here to both learn and be inspired by the man who once said, "Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy."

Why do they call it that? Now you know.

The first Gulf War ended 21 years ago this week, in 1991; Schwarzkopf Elementary School opened in 1993.

And General Schwarzkopf still pays for the students at the school to have an ice cream party each year.

We feature new "Why do they call it that?" stories each Wednesday on 10 News at 5 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Check out previous editions of the Emmy-nominated series at our "Why do they call it that?" website: wtsp.com/callitthat.

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