Gen. Schwarzkopf's daughter remembers dad - WFLA News Channel 8

Gen. Schwarzkopf's daughter remembers dad

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Gayle Sierens sat down with Cindy Schwarzkopf for a personal conversation about her dad Gayle Sierens sat down with Cindy Schwarzkopf for a personal conversation about her dad
Gen. Schwarzkopf and his daughter Cindy Gen. Schwarzkopf and his daughter Cindy
In this Jan. 27, 1991 file photo, U.S. Army Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf points to row of photos of Kuwait's Ahmadi Sea Island Terminal on fire after a U.S. attack on the facility. (AP Photo) In this Jan. 27, 1991 file photo, U.S. Army Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf points to row of photos of Kuwait's Ahmadi Sea Island Terminal on fire after a U.S. attack on the facility. (AP Photo)
TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -

Not quite six months ago, the Bay area lost an ambassador, the United States lost a decorated war hero, and Cindy, Jessica and Christian Schwarzkopf lost a dad.

So as we approach this Father's Day weekend, Gayle Sierens sat down for an exclusive interview with General Norman Schwarzkopf's oldest daughter Cindy, who gave us a sweet and generous look into the man she knew as "Dad".

Cindy, the oldest of three, had the important job of delivering her father's eulogy at West Point last February.  It was a responsibility she cherished.

"We remember a father that would dress up in a clown costume and he had a trunk full of magic books and magic tricks," Cindy said.  "So every birthday party he was the guy who dressed up in a clown outfit, and the tie went from his neck to his shins and a funny nose... and he would do magic tricks for everybody at the birthday part, and make balloon animals for everyone."

That is the other side of the general that Cindy says the world got a glimpse of, even in the throes of war.

"I think his charm and his sense of humor and his emotional nature. I think all those things came out and people really connected and resonated with him," said Cindy.  "I think he was popular because he wasn't just the hard-nosed tough general."

As Father's Day approaches, Cindy wants the public to know more about this family man who made life and death decisions by day, and came home each evening to live the part of his life that mattered the most.

"To look back and realize that he did all those things everyday in his work and still came home everyday and made it a priority to say hello to us and find out about how our day was at school, to help us with our multiplication table and flashcards, to attend my swim meets early on a Saturday morning and make all of those things such a huge priority," Cindy said.  "I appreciate now what I didn't appreciate then as much... just how much of a commitment he made to family."

One of her most treasured memories was when she as 15, and her dad booked a 3-day kayak trip for the two of them.

"We were trying to get across a very large dangerous channel with large swells, and I just remember my dad with all the encouragement, and teaching me about just being tough, and hanging in there, and seeing it through, and we had those great first day memories, but what I got from him on the last day of weathering through the storm that was probably one of my favorite memories."

Stormin' Norman taught his family about weathering the storm.

"His guidance was always find something you want to do that you love to do, work hard at it, and it will be yours, because you're born in the United States of America, and you're born in freedom, and you're born in democracy and whatever you want to do, you can.  You just have to put the effort forth," said Cindy. 

Despite the very public and important nature of his job, Cindy and her siblings always knew family came first.  Home life was filled with board games, with his beloved dogs.  Cindy remembers her father as a tender man who wasn't afraid to cry.  She says the general's "hat and the stars" were on at work, but when he came home, it was sweat pants and tee shirts.

During his eulogy Cindy told those gathered: "We kids saw the hand that held ours when we took our first steps, rode our first bikes, scribbled our first words, climbed our first hills, drove our first cars, and then so gracefully knew how to let go when it was time for us to have our own go at the world."

But that time to let go came too soon.

"That's the greatest loss," Cindy said.  "That somebody who was my counselor for my whole life and the person I could always turn to no matter how difficult the circumstance... to know that the opinion and the advice I was getting was good and sound, but I don't have that anymore."

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