According to a statement on the Facebook page of former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair and Secretary of State Colin Powell, the 84-year-old died Monday 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,” Powell’s family said in the post. “We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American.”
Powell was the first Black Secretary of State, serving under former President George W. Bush from 2001-2005. He served as the Joint Chiefs of Staff chair under Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush. He was also the National Security Adviser under Ronald Reagan.
Bush released a statement Monday morning, saying he and former First Lady Laura Bush “are deeply saddened” by Powell’s death.
“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,” Bush said in the statement. “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.”
In the decades spent in high government, Powell had been a source of controversy at times, notably in regards to the Iraq War. As Secretary of State, Powell went before the U.N. Security Council to make the case for U.S. war against Iraq. He cited faulty information claiming Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Iraq’s claims that it had no such weapons represented “a web of lies,” he told the world body.
‘It’s a blot… and will always be a part of my record. It was painful. It’s painful now,’ Powell said in a 2005 interview with ABC News.
Later in his public life, Powell would grow disillusioned with the Republican Party’s rightward lurch and would use his political capital to help elect Democrats to the White House, most notably Barack Obama, the first Black president whom Powell endorsed in the final weeks of the 2008 campaign.
The announcement was seen as a significant boost for Obama’s candidacy due to Powell’s widespread popular appeal and stature as one of the most prominent and successful Black Americans in public life.
Powell is survived by his wife, Alma Vivian (Johnson) Powell, whom he married in 1962, as well as three children.