Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf remembered by retired Army officer from Olympia Fields
By Susan DeMar Lafferty email@example.com December 28, 2012 4:24PM
Retired Army Col. Eugene F. Scott, 73, shows a 1987 autographed portrait of the late General Norman Schwarzkopf at his home in Olympia Fields Friday, December 28, 2012. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 31, 2013 6:41AM
It has been 20 years since Eugene Scott served under retired Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, but he still carries with him the life-long lessons he learned from his famous commander.
Those years were “one of the most enjoyable parts of my career,” said Scott, who served 28 years in the Army, and is a retired colonel now living in Olympia Fields. “His death is a tremendous loss for the Army and the country. We lost a true soldier and a gentleman.”
Schwarzkopf died Thursday in Tampa, Fla., of complications from pneumonia. He was 78.
Scott served two years in Germany with the Army’s largest combat division, commanding a battalion of 60 tanks and 1,000 soldiers under the general. Later, when Schwarzkopf left for Fort Stewart, Ga., Scott said he called him to be the post commander, making him the first black post commander.
Still later, the general wanted Scott to join him in Iraq for Operation Desert Storm, but by then, “I was ready to retire,” said Scott, who is five years younger than Schwarzkopf.
“He was tough, and he knew what he wanted. I came to know what he wanted. He was easy to work with because I understood him,” he said.
Schwarzkopf, who rejected suggestions that he run for office, was not a politician.
“That was too much craziness for him,” Scott said. Nor was he one to sit behind a desk.
Schwarzkopf was “all business. There were no excuses. You found a way to get it done. That is how combat officers are trained,” he said, and that’s why the general wanted combat soldiers to work with him.
As post commander, Scott’s job was to make sure the soldiers and their families were “safe and happy.” He built housing, schools and day care facilities, he said, and under the general’s direction had the first Burger King built on base.
Schwarzkopf was “very innovative and very fair” and “took care of his people,” he said.
“He was the ultimate mentor for me. He was a fine gentleman, a smart soldier and a great tactician,” Scott said. “He practiced being the best he could be every day. He was all about honor, duty, service and country and he made you live by those principles.”
The decorated general was obviously proud of Scott as well, as evidenced by the signed photograph that sits on Scott’s mantel that says, “To Gene, my strong right arm.”
“I was honored that he would say that about me,” said Scott, who later became general manager of the Chicago Defender newspaper and continued to correspond with the general until a few years ago.
Scott said he was surprised by Schwarzkopf’s death, because he “always looked so robust.” But he also knew the general had been diagnosed with prostate cancer 10 years ago and was less active than he used to be.
“He left a legacy to me and the whole country,” Scott said. That legacy was his moral character, his high level of integrity and his high standard of excellence. And living up to that “is not easy,” he said.
“The country needs people and soldiers like him so young soldiers and officers can see and understand what the standard is.”