Colin Powell, the first Black U.S. Secretary of State and a pivotal figure in the administrations of three Republican presidents, has died at the age of 84 from COVID-19 complications.
“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,” wrote Powell’s family in a Facebook post on Monday morning. “We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American.”
The post notes that he was fully vaccinated against the virus and thanks the staff at the Walter Reed Medical Center in Maryland for their treatment and care.
His career took him from combat duty in the Vietnam War to becoming the first Black National Security Advisor during Ronald Reagan’s presidency. He also became the youngest and first African American to serve as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under George H.W. Bush in 1989.
In that role he oversaw the U.S. invasion of Panama and later the U.S. invasion of Kuwait to oust the Iraqi army in 1991.
In 2003, Powell faced controversy when he went before the U.N. Security Council – as Secretary of State under George W. Bush – and made the case for the U.S. war against Iraq. He cited faulty information and claimed that Saddam Hussein had secretly stashed away weapons of mass destruction.
Powell later called his inaccurate justification for the Iraq War “a blot” on his record.
George W. Bush said he and former first lady Laura Bush were “deeply saddened” by Powell’s death.
“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 Alma and their children our sincere condolences as they remember the life of a great man.”
–with files from toronto/citynews.ca