Colin Powell, a trailblazing political and military official who served in multiple Republican presidential administrations, died Monday from health complications. He was 84.
Powell served as secretary of state under President George W. Bush and as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George H.W. Bush and for the first few months under President Bill Clinton. Under President Ronald Reagan, he was deputy national security advisor.
Powell’s family said in a Facebook post that he died “due to complications from Covid 19” and was fully vaccinated. Powell also was battling other ailments, including Parkinson’s and multiple myeloma, which is cancer of the body’s plasma cells.
“We want to thank the medical staff at Walter Reed National Medical Center for their caring treatment,” the family said. “We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American.”
Powell was the first black secretary of state and the first black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
On Monday, tributes to Powell poured in from both sides of the political aisle.
“Laura and I are deeply saddened by the death of Colin Powell,” former President George W. Bush said in a statement. “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 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. He was highly respected at home and abroad.”
President Biden said Powell “embodied the highest ideals of both warrior and diplomat.”
“Time and again, he put country before self, before party, before all else – in uniform and out – and it earned him the universal respect of the American people,” Biden said.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said, “America has lost a trailblazing leader.”
“As a senior leader, he helped four presidents protect our nation, represent us on the world stage, and chart our course through uncertain and turbulent times that included the dawn of a new century and the beginning of our global war on terrorists who will not leave America alone even if we leave them alone,” McConnell said.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Alex Wong/Staff
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.