It's no wonder that Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf came on like gangbusters in the Persian Gulf. In his family, gangbusters is hereditary.
Here is what the West Point yearbook said about future Gen. Herbert Norman Schwarzkopf: "His name is enough to cause the Secret Service to sit up and take notice, his shape is like a beer keg, and altogether he's a dangerous customer. . . . No one would suspect from his anatomy that (he's) built for speed, and he isn't - but oh my, what a wallop when he lands!"Saddam Hussein would agree but might be surprised to learn that the aforementioned yearbook entry wasn't referring to the H. Norman Schwarzkopf who so recently and rudely made his acquaintance. The graduation item was published in 1917, and it described Schwarzkopf's father.
So you might call our outsize Persian Gulf hero a chip off the old block.
As for accomplishments, the old general's career took some unusual twists - even leading him to a tour of duty on a radio program enjoyed by millions in pre-television days, "Gang Busters."
With the imposing soldier H. Norman Schwarzkopf as narrator, "Gang Busters" mesmerized America with dramatized recountings of actual crimes. The sound effects sparked imaginations as no boob tube ever could: The staccato bursts of machine guns, the squeal of tires, the crash of breaking glass, the wail of police sirens along city streets in fast-moving sagas including "The Case of the Ape Bandit - the College Athlete Who Turned Killer."
What was a military man doing on a cops-and-robbers radio show?
The elder Schwarzkopf was no stranger to police work. After graduating from West Point and serving in World War I, he returned to his native New Jersey to establish the state police force there and to become its first superintendent at age 26.
He held the job for years before returning to the military when World War II approached.
To make sure his troopers knew what they were doing, he spent extended periods with other crime-fighting organizations, among them the Texas Rangers and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Along the way, he also became chief investigator of a crime as notorious as any ever broadcast by "Gang Busters," the 1932 kidnapping of 2-year-old Charles A. Lindbergh Jr., who was later found dead.
Schwarzkopf sent his men as far away as Europe, searching for clues in the controversial crime, for which the state strapped Bruno Richard Hauptmann into the electric chair in 1936.
The senior Schwarzkopf was also gangbusters at international challenges. In the early 1950s he led the U.S. military mission in Iran, reorganizing and training the national police there amid an explosive political atmosphere that eventually led to martial law and the rise of the shah.
"Schwarzie," as he and his son were called in their West Point yearbooks, left active duty in 1951 and died in 1958 at age 63.
His legacy was his own reputation, his military and law enforcement records, the current Gen. Schwarzkopf, and some dandy old radio programs that were "brought to you by the makers of Sloan's Liniment" and always began with a breathless: "Calling the police! Calling the G-Men! Calling all Americans to war on the underworld!"
"Gang Busters," like most early radio shows, wasn't much for nuance; its message was unashamedly loud and clear: "Crime isn't the way - crime doesn't pay."
You get the feeling that Saddam Hussein never tuned in, and that's too bad. We know he thinks today's Schwarzkopf is one tough customer - but Saddam, ya shudda seen his old man.
(Distributed by Scripps-Howard News Service)