Colin Powell, a true patriot who defended the United States as a 4-star general before continuing to serve his country as the first Black Secretary of State, has died following a battle with COVID-19. He died Monday morning at the age of 84.
His family announced the death in a Facebook post on Monday morning and suggested his COVID-19 infection was a breakthrough case because he had gotten vaccinated.
“General Colin L. Powell, former U.S. Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, passed away this morning due to complications from Covid 19,” Powell’s family wrote. “He was fully vaccinated. We want to thank the medical staff at Walter Reed National Medical Center for their caring treatment. We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American.”
Powell, a soldier whose impressive rise through the military ranks is unparalleled for a Black man, served admirably during a number of international conflicts, including as a soldier during the Vietnam War and as a general during Operation Desert Storm in the early 1990s against Iraq. He served under multiple presidential administrations and was ultimately nominated and confirmed as President George W. Bush’s Secretary of State in 2001.
Prior to becoming the first Black Secretary of State, Powell worked at the National Security Adviser during the final years of President Ronald Reagan’s administration and the first year of President George H.W. Bush’s first term. Immediately after that, Powell went on to serve as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff through 1993.
Colin Luther Powell was born on April 5, 1937, and raised in the Bronx borough of New York City to Jamaican immigrant parents. After graduating from the City College of New York in 1958, Powell pursued a career in the military which lasted for more than 35 years. In addition to the aforementioned accomplishments, Powell’s decades of service in the U.S. military include being the Commander of the U.S. Army Forces Command.
Powell’s rise to prominence prompted speculation that he might run for president and become the first Black commander in chief, but that never happened the Republican instead wound up endorsing Democrat Barack Obama‘s candidacy in 2008 over his fellow GOP party member, Sen. John McCain.
During Colin Powell’s career as a soldier, general and presidential administration official, his integrity and judgment were beyond reproach when it came to partisan politics. But Powell’s endorsement of Obama prompted Republicans to question whether he was only endorsing Obama because of his skin color. Powell, who has always been defined by his loyalty to his country and the presidents that ran it, even campaigned for McCain in 2000 before switching to G.W. Bush after the primaries. But for Republicans, his support for Obama was unforgivable.
There were a few stains on Powell’s record over the years, including his support for the U.S. invading Iraq following the Sept. 11 terror attacks. Powell, who was one of then-President G.W. Bush’s top foreign policy advisers, was also a major proponent of the overall War on Terror as well as the Afghanistan War. However, it was his ringing endorsement of the military action in Iraq that was based on the false premise that haunted him throughout the remainder of his career
“There can be no doubt that Saddam Hussein has biological weapons and the capability to rapidly produce more, many more,” Powell told international leaders during a speech at the United Nations in 2003.
Two years later, after it was revealed that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq after all, Powell was contrite. “I regret it now because the information was wrong — of course I do,” Powell told CNN in 2010. “But I will always be seen as the one who made the case before the international community.”
This is a developing story that will be up[dated as additional information becomes available.