The first Black US secretary of state, and a military leader, Colin Powell, has died from complications from COVID-19, aged 84.
According to CNN, Powell’s family announced his demise on Facebook, on Monday.
“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,” they said, noting he was fully vaccinated.
CNN further reports that Powell was recognised for his leadership in several Republican administrations, which helped in shaping American foreign policy in the last years of the 20th Century and the early years of the 21st Century.
Powell was born April 5, 1937, in Harlem, New York, to Jamaican immigrants and grew up in the South Bronx.
Powell attended the City College of New York, where he participated in ROTC, leading the precision drill team and attaining the top rank offered by the corps, cadet colonel.
He entered the US Army after graduating in 1958 and later served two tours in South Vietnam during the 1960s, where he was wounded twice, including during a helicopter crash in which he rescued two soldiers. He stayed in the Army after returning home, attending the National War College and rising in leadership. He was promoted to brigadier general in 1979, appointed as Reagan’s final national security adviser in 1987, and was tapped by the elder Bush in 1989 to head the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Powell’s tenure in the elder Bush’s administration was marked by his involvement in some of the most notable American military actions of the late 20th century, including the 1989 Panama operation, the 1991 Gulf War, and the US humanitarian intervention in Somalia, though he retired from the Army days before the disastrous Battle of Mogadishu.
During Powell’s time in the military, which lasted until 1993, he also received a number of other notable awards, including the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts. He received his fourth star in 1989, becoming the second African American to rise to that rank.
Powell also received the President’s Citizens Medal, the Secretary of State Distinguished Service Medal, and the Secretary of Energy Distinguished Service Medal, as well as a second Presidential Medal of Freedom, awarded with distinction, from President Bill Clinton.
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