U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell gestures as he addresses the Security Council February 14, 2003 at United Nations headquarters in New York City.
Stephen Chernin | Getty Images
WASHINGTON – Colin Powell, who was the first Black secretary of State and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has died from Covid complications at the age of 84.
After four decades in public service as America’s top soldier, diplomat and national security advisor, Powell’s influence in shaping U.S. diplomacy was later marred by his argument for the Iraq War. Following America’s entry into lengthy wars in the Middle East, Powell admitted his support for combat in Iraq haunted him.
“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,” the Powell family wrote on Facebook.
“We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American,” the family said, noting he was fully vaccinated.
The family thanked the staff at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland, where Powell was receiving care.
Powell had multiple myeloma, according to NBC News. It is a type of blood cancer that hurts the body’s ability to fight infections.
US Secretary of State Colin Powell answers questions during a briefing 12 September 2001 at the State Department in Washington, DC.
Joyce Naltchayan | AFP | Getty Images
Powell, the son of Jamaican immigrants, became the first Black national security advisor during the Reagan administration.
President George H.W. Bush tapped Powell to be the youngest and first Black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
As chairman, he oversaw America’s Desert Storm operations during the Persian Gulf war.
After 35 years of military service, Powell retired from the U.S. Army as a four-star general.
General Colin Powell (C), head of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, tours 05 January 1990 the bombed courtyard of the Panaminian Defense Force Comandancia in Panama City to review US troops and receive a briefing on Operation Just Cause, the US invasion of Panama.
Bob Pearson | AFP | Getty Images
In 2001, he became the first Black secretary of State under President George W. Bush. On the heels of the September 11 terrorist attacks, Powell supported a swift military response against al-Qaeda.
During a 75-minute speech at the United Nations, Powell presented intelligence that claimed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and also the ambition to produce more. Much of the intelligence turned out to be incorrect.
Powell would later call the United Nations speech, which laid out the Bush administration’s rationale for war in Iraq, a “blot” on his distinguished record.
“Laura and I are deeply saddened by the death of Colin Powell. He was a great public servant, starting with his time as a soldier during Vietnam,” former President George W. Bush and first lady Laura Bush wrote in a statement.
“He was such a favorite of Presidents that he earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom – twice. He was highly respected at home and abroad,” Bush wrote, adding that “many presidents relied on General Powell’s counsel and experience.”
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