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In this Sept. 14, 1990 file photo, U.S. Army Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, commander of U.S. forces in Saudi Arabia, answers questions during an interview in Riyadh. Schwarzkopf died Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012 in Tampa, Fla. He was 78. (AP Photo/David Longstreath, File)

LITCHFIELD PARK, ARIZ. -- Veterans of Operation Desert Storm are calling it an honor to have battled alongside the late General Norman Schwarzkopf.

Major Edward Pulito served under Schwarzkopf during Desert Storm in the 1990s. He remembers the general as a people person.

"One of the things that he told us is ‘Mission first, people always,'" said Pulito. "Those are the kind of comments that really stick with you.

"When you hear his name, I'm going to get choked up. The reason is because I know what he did, I know what he did for the Kuwaiti people. And I know what he did in honoring the sacrifices of those that he led."

Although he didn't know Schwarzkopf personally, Pulito did shake hands with him several times and met him at several military events in Tampa after the war. He remembers the general's retirement in 1992.

"He went out at the top of his game, at the top of his level," said Pulito. "I don't advocate for war. No one does, but the thing about it is that if you're going to go to war, you need generals like that that have insight, that have drive, commitment, and more importantly, understand the battlefield principles."

Pulito said that Schwarzkopf's death is a tremendous loss for the United States.

"Anytime a patriot passes, we remember, we honor and we understand that the sacrifices that he and his family made for our country are not free."

Schwarzkopf, who was the leader of coalition forces during Operation Desert Storm, died Thursday of pneumonia at the age of 78.

Bob McClay, Reporter

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