Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, the U.S. commander of allied forces in the Persian Gulf war, had a chaplain read from the Bible as he launched the air campaign against Iraq on Jan. 17, a top aide said Wednesday.

Marine Gen. Richard Neal, Schwarzkopf's deputy, who also served as the daily press briefer in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, said the start of the air attack was the "tensest moment" of the war for commanders, who feared heavy losses."General Schwarzkopf had a chaplain read off a scripture verse. We all held our collective breaths for the next three to four hours until we got the word that our aircraft were coming back," he said.

Returning home from the gulf, Neal told a brief news conference at Logan International Airport the war sparked a "rebirth" of patriotism in America.

"People are elated with (what) they have heard (of the war)," said Neal, a native of the Boston suburb of Hull.