Washington – Colin Powell, an influential former US Secretary of State who played a key policy role during the George W. Bush administration, died on Monday due to complications from COVID-19, his family said in a statement. He was 84 years old.
Powell, the first African American to serve as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and as secretary of state, was fully vaccinated. For a statement on Facebook. He was undergoing treatment at Walter Reed National Medical Center in Maryland.
“General Colin L. Powell, former US Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, passed away this morning. He was fully vaccinated,” the family statement said. “We would like to thank the medical staff of Walter Reed National Medical Center for their caring treatment. We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American.”
Washington, DC: In this image released on May 28, 2021, General Colin Powell (retired) on stage during the “National Memorial Day Concert” of Capitol Concerts in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for the Capitol concert)
Powell served on Democratic and Republican presidents, including the cabinet of former President George W. Bush, during the turbulent years following the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Born on April 5, 1937, Powell was the son of two Jamaican immigrants and was raised in the South Bronx. He attended the City College of New York, where he began his military service by joining the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC).
After graduating in 1958, he became a second lieutenant in the US Army and went on to serve two rounds in Vietnam, stationed in West Germany and South Korea. He served as Deputy National Security Adviser to former President Ronald Reagan in 1987 and later as National Security Adviser from 1988 to 1989.
In 1989, he was promoted to the rank of general and appointed to the position of chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff by former President George HW Bush. Over four years, he oversaw several crises, including Operation Desert Storm in 1991.
He was appointed Secretary of State in 2001 by former President George W. Bush and served until 2005. His tenure was dominated by the challenges facing the Bush administration after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
In a statementBush said he and his wife, Laura, were “deeply saddened” by the news.
“He was a great public servant” and “widely respected at home and abroad,” Bush said. “And most important, Colin was a family man and a friend. Laura and I send our sincere condolences to Alma and her children as they remember the life of a great man.”
Powell received numerous American and foreign military awards and decorations.
His civilian awards include two Presidential Medal of Freedom, President’s Citizen Medal, Congressional Gold Medal, Secretary of State’s Vishisht Seva Medal and Secretary of Energy’s Vishisht Seva Medal. Several schools and other institutions are named in his honor and he has honorary degrees from universities and colleges across the country.
However, Powell’s reputation suffered a painful blow when, in 2003, he went before the United Nations Security Council and made the case for the US war against Iraq. He claimed, citing misinformation, that Saddam Hussein had secretly concealed weapons of mass destruction. Iraq claims it did not represent a “web of lies”, he told the world body.
After his retirement, Secretary Powell wrote his best-selling autobiography, “My American Journey”, which was published in 1995. Additionally, he pursued a career as a public speaker, addressing audiences at home and abroad.
This story was reported from Cincinnati. The Associated Press contributed.