October 18, 2021
The first Black U.S. Secretary of State and revolutionary figure in Washington, General Colin Luther Powell has died of COVID-19 complications Monday, October 18, 2021. Powell was 84 years old.
According to a Facebook post from his family, General Powell was fully vaccinated.
“We want to thank the medical staff at Walter Reed National Medical Center for their caring treatment,” the statement read. “We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American.”
Starting his military career, Powell enrolled in active-duty service in 1958. In 1963, then-Lt. Powell served in Vietnam as an adviser to a South Vietnamese infantry battalion patrolling the border. While on patrol, he was wounded by a punji stake.
Returning to Vietnam in 1968 as a major, the 84-year-old was decorated with the Soldier’s Medal for the act of bravery after surviving a helicopter crash, and single-handedly rescuing three others. Among the three that Powell rescued includes division commander Major General Charles M. Gettys, from the burning wreckage.
From 1987 to 1988, the Gen. served as a national security advisor under President Ronald Reagan. From 1989 to 1993, Powell also went on to serve as the 12th Joint Chief of Staff under President George W. Bush. During both terms, the South Bronx native broke the color barrier.
“I think it shows to the world what is possible in this country,” Powell said of his Senate confirmation hearing for secretary of state in 2001. “It shows to the world that: Follow our model, and over a period of time from our beginning, if you believe in the values that espouse, you can see things as miraculous as me sitting before you.”
Although serving under three Republican presidents and belonging to the Republicans, Powell became disenchanted with the direction of the GOP later in his life.
In 2008, the Four-Star General broke the Republican Party and endorsed Democrat Barack Obama, who would the first Black president of the United States of America.
Last January 2020, following the deadly Capitol riot that Trump incited, told CNN that he didn’t consider himself a Republican.
“I can no longer call myself a fellow Republican,” he said. “I’m not a fellow of anything right now.”
Even though his national popularity, Powell reflects how he forever is linked with his role in pushing faulty intelligence under the President George W. Bush term in order to make the case for the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
He also later admitted that it represented “a blot” that will “always be a part of my record.”
Powell is survived by his wife, Alma Vivian (Johnson) Powell, whom he married in 1962, as well as three children.
As the breaking news of Powell’s death hits the world, reactions begin to pour in.
The 43rd President George W. Bush states “deeply saddened” by news of Powell’s death.
Bush continues “He was a great public servant, starting with his time as a soldier during Vietnam,” Bush said in a statement. “Many presidents relied on General Powell’s counsel and experience. He was national security adviser under President Reagan, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under my father and President Clinton, and secretary of state during my administration.
“He was such a favorite of presidents that he earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom — twice,” Bush reflects. “He was highly respected at home and abroad. And most important, Colin was a family man and a friend. Laura and I send Alma and their children our sincere condolences as they remember the life of a great man.”
The Nation’s First Black Defense Secretary Llyod Austin reflects on Powell’s death.
“The world lost one of the greatest leaders that we have ever witnessed,” Austin said. “Alma lost a great husband and the family lost a tremendous father. I lost a tremendous personal friend and mentor … I feel as if I have a hole in my heart.”
Our prayers and thoughts are with Colin Powell and his family.