Powell was 84. He join the Army in 1958 and served two tours in Vietnam. He suffered a grievous injury during his first tour and later received a medal for saving three soldiers from a burning helicopter. Eventually, Powell rose to prominence as a four-star general who chaired the Joint Chiefs of Staff during Operation Desert Storm.
Powell was previously diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer that hurts the body’s ability to fight infections.
“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,” the Powell family wrote on Facebook.
“We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American,” the family said, noting he was fully vaccinated.
Powell, the son of Jamaican immigrants, became the first Black national security adviser during the Reagan administration. President George H.W. Bush tapped Powell to be the youngest and first Black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Powell’s Political Journey
Following his resignation in 1993, Powell announced he was a Republican. Party leaders tried to recruit him to run against President Clinton in the 1996 presidential election but he declined.
During the George W. Bush administration, Powell controversially helped make the case for the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.
In 2004, Powell told Charlie Rose that he only had four days to review the intelligence community’s (IC’s) evidence of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) in Iraq before he addressed the United Nations Security Council. Testifying before the Senate Government Affairs Committee that same year, Powell said that the sources who provided that evidence he reviewed were wrong and that he wasn’t made aware that some analysts doubted reports that Iraq possessed WMDs. As a result, he pushed for reforms of the IC.
In September 2005, Powell told Barbara Walters that his role garnering “[international support for the invasion] will always be a part of my record. It was painful. It’s painful now.”
Although Powell remained a registered Republican until the attack on the U.S. Capitol, he became increasingly critical of the Republican Party following Sen. John McCain’s decision to pick Sarah Palin as his vice presidential candidate.
Reactions from both sides of the aisle poured in:
While Trump Criticizes
While political leaders from Mike Pence to President Biden have praised Powell for his lifetime of military service, former President Trump had a dramatically different response. Trump derisively called Powell a “RINO” while complaining about the media coverage he posthumously received.