Colin Powell, the first Black chairman of the Joints Chief of Staff, who served for Republican and Democratic presidents, has died of complications from COVID-19, according to several media reports. He was 84.
In his role as Joint Chiefs of Staff, he oversaw the U.S. invasion of Panama and later the U.S. invasion of Kuwait in response to the Iraqi invasion of that country in 1991.
Powell’s reputation was dealt a blow when, in 2003, he addressed the United Nations Security Council at the behest of President George W. Bush and made the case for war against Iraq. Powell told the United Nations, citing faulty information, that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had secretly stashed weapons of mass destruction.
The family of Powell said on social media posts that Powell was fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The family thanked Walter Reed National Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, for their care of Powell.
“We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father and grandfather and a great American,” the family said.
Former President Bush said he and former First Lady Laura Bush were “deeply saddened” by Powell’s death, the Los Angeles Times is reporting.
“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.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein offered her condolences to Alma Powell, Colin Powell’s widow, and the Powell family, saying, “He was truly a great statesman and a man of deep integrity,” in a release.
“His life gave inspiration to millions. Rising from humble roots in New York as the son of Jamaican immigrants, he became the first African-American chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the culmination of a 35-year military career. And he was the first African-American Secretary of State, a position he held for four years.
“I hope that people will reflect on Colin Powell’s passing and remember a man who served his country with compassion and honor.”