Tampa, Florida - While the nation knew General Norman Schwarzkopf as a military hero, some people in Tampa say they were fortunate to call him friend.
"If you enjoyed straight talk, he was a rare and enjoyable conversation," said Carl Norton.
Norton and Schwarzkopf shared a passion for clay shooting and Norton says the General was both quick with the trigger and quick witted.
"I used to joke about it. He was a lefthander, a southpaw and he'd come back -- you know how quick and whippy he was -- 'Lefties do it right,'" Norton recalled with a chuckle.
Tampa businessman Al Austin was also a close friend. "This was at a dinner here at the house," says Austin, pointing to a photograph of himself and Schwarzkopf hanging on the wall of his den.
Besides dinners, Austin also attended a Super Bowl in Miami and numerous Bucs games with the General.
While Schwarzkopf cherished his privacy, Austin says it was difficult for this man who cut such an imposing figure to go anywhere without being mobbed.
"He handled himself with dignity and always stood erect. He was very noticeable; he'd stand out in a crowd," said Austin.
Friends say Schwarzkopf's health had been failing for the past several years and his family guarded that information. Still, his passing Thursday was unexpected and friends will remember a charismatic man and the good times that they shared.
Norton said, "I think he was a great person and I'm not alone with those thoughts."
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