Former secretary of state and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell has died at age 84 of COVID-19 complications. FILE – In this Monday, Sept. 17, 2001 file photo, Secretary of State Colin Powell speaks during a news conference at the State Department in Washington, discussing the diplomatic aspects of the previous week’s terrorist attacks. (AP Photo/Hillery Smith Garrison, File) Hillery Smith Garrison/AP

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell dead at 84 from COVID-19 complications

Virginia Aabram October 18, 08:12 AM October 18, 09:49 AM

Former secretary of state and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell has died at age 84 of COVID-19 complications.

Powell was fully vaccinated and being cared for at Walter Reed National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., at the time of his death on Monday morning. After decades of military experience, including tours in Vietnam, Powell served as secretary of state under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2005 and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George H. W. Bush from 1989 to 1993.

According to an announcement on his Facebook page, “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. He was fully vaccinated.”

“We want to thank the medical staff at Walter Reed National Medical Center for their caring treatment. We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American,” the announcement added.

“The world lost one of the greatest leaders that we have ever witnessed,” Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said on CNN. “I lost a tremendous personal friend and mentor. He has been my mentor for a number of years. He always made time for me and I could always go to him with tough issues. He always had great counsel. We will certainly miss him. I feel as if I have a hole in my heart just learning of this recently.”

Powell was born in April 1937 and grew up in South Bronx, New York. He joined the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps while at City College of New York.

Powell received a Purple Heart after getting wounded while he served as an adviser to a South Vietnamese infantry battalion from Dec. 1962 to Nov. 1963. He later returned to Vietnam five years later, where he served as the first battalion executive officer and then as assistant chief of staff, operations, and later deputy G-3 with the 23rd Infantry Division.

He continued to work his way up the military ranks in the 1970s and 1980s, where he eventually was named as President Ronald Reagan’s national security adviser in 1987.

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Following the conclusion of the Reagan administration, he received his fourth star and was named Commander in Chief of Forces Command, and months later, President George H.W. Bush appointed him Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, where he became the first black person to serve in the position.

Powell was then appointed and confirmed to be secretary of state in 2001 under President George W. Bush, becoming the first black American to hold the top diplomatic position.

His 2003 speech to the United Nations, where he falsely claimed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, became one of the lasting legacies of his time as the top diplomat at the State Department. The consequential call for an invasion became reality shortly there after, and it has lasted as a “blot” on his record, he said afterwards.

Bush and former first lady Laura Bush said in a statement that they were “deeply saddened” by Powell’s death, whom they called “a great public servant” who was “highly respected at home and abroad.”

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