COMMENTARY | The concussion of the explosion ripped through the air, quickly followed by the acute screaming of a soldier in agony. With his leg shattered, he writhed in agony, trapped in the middle of a minefield.
His commander, positioned on the edge of the field, was also wounded in the blast, but he was determined to rescue his trapped soldiers. Working through the pain of his own wound, the commander got down on the ground, and crawled through the minefield to his injured man.
The soldier was frantic, and squirming wildly with pain. The commander reached him, and immediately pinned him down and keeping him still until another could soldier could lend further assistance.
One of them, seeing a nearby tree, stepped to it, hoping to retrieve wood to splint the downed man's leg with. He never made it. Upon his approach, he tripped another mine, killing him and the two soldiers nearest him. The commander's artillery liaison officer took the hit as well, losing an arm and a leg in the blast.
Finally, the commander was able to get his soldiers to safety, when he ordered his division engineers to mark the mine locations they could find, with shaving cream.
His name was H. Norman Schwarzkopf.
The reputation he developed was fierce, but it came about during the same sort of crisis. The first episode was noted to have been a verbal explosion over radio, demanding American Huey pilots, passing through his area, to land and get his wounded men to safety.
During his military career, he the recipient of a Purple Heart, three Silver Stars for valor, three Distinguished Service Medals and a Bronze Star was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1991.
He said, "It doesn't take a hero," but he was exactly that.