7:37 AM PDT, October 18, 2021
Colin Powell, the first Black U.S. Secretary of State, died Sunday from complications stemming from COVID-19, his family said. He was 84.
“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,” his family said in a statement on Facebook. “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.”
He is survived by his wife Alma Vivian (Johnson) Powell, and three children, Linda, Annemarie and Michael, according to a report.
The son of Jamaican immigrants in Harlem, New York, Powell entered the U.S. Army in 1958 and served two tours of duty in Vietnam. He rose in the ranks of leadership, becoming Brigadier General in 1979. President Ronald Regan appointed General Powell as head of the National Security Council in 1987.
And in 1989, President George H.W. Bush made Powell the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest military position in the Defense Department. This appointment made history, as Powell was the youngest person and the first African American to ever hold the office.
He maintained the post throughout the first Bush and Clinton administrations. When President George W. Bush appointed Powell as Secretary of State, he again made history, that time becoming the highest-ranking African American in the U.S. government.
On Monday, former President George W. Bush said he and former first lady Laura Bush were “deeply saddened” by Powell’s death.
“He was a great public servant, starting with his times as a soldier during Vietnam. Many Presidents relied on General Powell’s counsel and experience. He was National Security Adviser under President Reagan, Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff under my father and President Clinton, and Secretary of State during my Administration,” Bush said, The Atlanta-Journal Constitution reported. “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.”
Powell had Parkinson’s disease and other physical ailments, including multiple myeloma, a cancer that forms in a type of white blood cell called a plasma cell, NBC News reported.
It was not clear if Powell had received a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine or when he was initially vaccinated, CNN reported.