12/27/2012 at 08:10 PM EST
H. Norman Schwarzkopf, the Army general who commanded coalition forces in the Persian Gulf War against Saddam Hussein, died Thursday in Tampa, Fla., at age 78.
The cause of death was not immediately known. His death was confirmed to the Associated Press by a source.
Known as "Stormin' Norman" for his volcanic temper, the decorated Vietnam War combat soldier became a familiar face from his many press conferences during Operation Desert Storm in 1991.
Under his leadership during the presidency of George H.W. Bush, coalition forces drove Hussein's troops out of Kuwait, which Iraq had invaded, with relatively few coalition casualties, but the Iraqi leader remained in power.
Hussein would ultimately be left for Bush's presidential son, George W. Bush, to contend with.
After the Gulf War, Schwarzkopf became a television military analyst and went into a quiet retirement
in Florida to write his memoirs.
The elder Bush, now hospitalized
in intensive care, said in a statement that Schwarzkopf was a "true American patriot and one of the great military leaders of his generation."
"More than that, he was a good and decent man – and a dear friend," says Bush. "Barbara and I send our condolences to his wife Brenda and his wonderful family."