Retired Suncoast Colonel remembers General Schwarzkopf

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SARASOTA - General Schwarzkopf might have been a war hero to the nation, but to one Suncoast man, Schwarzkopf was a lifesaver.

Retired United States Marine Corps Reserve Colonel John Saputo said he was fortunate to serve under the command of the man who led desert storm.

"I was very sad to hear the passing of probably one of the most brilliant generals we had in the 20th century," Saputo said.  "His recall of the battle, his detail of the battle were absolutely tremendous to think about, that he knew what my individual regiment had done and what part we had contributed to the battle."

Saputo said Schwarzkopf was a man who put his troop's safety above anything else.

"He worried about casualties and he wanted to make sure that every single one of his decisions were imperatively thought out so that the least amount of men were wounded and killed in whatever he did in the battle," Saputo said.

He added Schwarzkopf's last minute change in plans ended up being lifesaving in combat.

"Came in on that reverse side in Kuwait City, and had very very few casualties as a result of that planning.  He made some decisions that I think saved the lives of many, many of my men during that great battle."

Schwarzkopf also set a precedent after his military career staying actively involved in causes ranging from sick and orphaned children to prostate cancer awareness in Tampa.  Saputo said he also set the bar as a role model for future generals.

"He could have named his ticket politically, but he said look, I want to retire and when I think about my path, my career, I'm a soldier and I don't want to be anything else."

Schwarzkopf and late actor Paul Newman co-founded Camp Boggy Creek in central Florida, a summer camp for kids with life threatening illnesses.

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