Former US secretary of state Powell dies of COVID complications
WASHINGTON — Colin Powell, the first Black U.S. secretary of state and top military officer, died on Monday at the age of 84 due to complications from COVID-19. He was fully vaccinated, his family said in a statement on Facebook.
“We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather, and a great American,” his family said.
Powell was one of America’s foremost Black figures for decades. He was named to senior posts by three Republican presidents and reached the top of the U.S. military as it was regaining its vigor after the trauma of the Vietnam War.
Powell, who was wounded in Vietnam, served as U.S. national security adviser under President Ronald Reagan from 1987 to 1989. As a four-star Army general, he was chairman of the military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George H.W. Bush during the 1991 Gulf War in which U.S.-led forces expelled Iraqi troops from neighboring Kuwait.
Powell, a moderate Republican and a pragmatist, considered a bid to become the first Black president in 1996 but his wife Alma’s worries about his safety helped him decide otherwise. In 2008, he broke with his party to endorse Democrat Barack Obama, who became the first Black person elected to the White House.
Powell will forever be associated with his controversial presentation on February 5, 2003, to the U.N. Security Council, making President George W. Bush’s case that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein constituted an imminent danger to the world because of its stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons.
Powell admitted later that the presentation was rife with inaccuracies and twisted intelligence provided by others in the Bush administration and represented “a blot” that will “always be a part of my record.”
Following are reactions from politicians and military leaders:
FORMER PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH IN A STATEMENT
“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. Many presidents relied on General Powell’s counsel and experience.
“He was such a favorite of Presidents that he earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom – twice. 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.”
ROBERT CHARLES, WHO SERVED AS ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE UNDER POWELL –FOX NEWS
“This was probably one of the greatest men to live during my lifetime. He was both a good and a great man… He had a great sense of humor. He deeply cared about people … He was a friend to all; he did not take things personally. That was probably one of the ways that he got to the points in life that he got to. He was an incredibly compassionate person. He cared about everyone.”
“He was decent and honest with people. Integrity was always at the forefront… this was a guy who truly walked the walk; he lived the words that he spoke… always optimistic.”
CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST REVEREND AL SHARPTON ON TWITTER
“My condolences to the family of Colin Powell. Though we disagreed on many issues, I always respected him and was proud of his achievements. When he and I ran into each other and conversed, I always left feeling he was a sincere and committed man to what he believed in. RIP”
RETIRED U.S. GENERAL MARK HERTLING – CNN
“He was a terrific soldier, a phenomenal leader.”
U.S. SENATOR OF VIRGINIA MARK WARNER ON TWITTER
“General Powell was a patriot and a public servant. May he rest in peace.”
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