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Colin Powell, 84, soldier, diplomat, politician, dies of covid-19 complications

General Colin Powell, who served three US presidents and became the first Black Secretary of State, passed away on Monday of complications from covid-19.

General Colin Powell, who served three US presidents and became the first Black Secretary of State, passed away on Monday of complications from covid-19.

General Colin Powell died Monday morning at the age of 84 due to complications with covid-19 according to a statement from his family adding that he had been fully vaccinated. In the statement his family thanked the medical staff at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center near Washington where he was being treated but gave few details.

"We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American," his family said.

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A long-time aide to Powell, Peggy Cifrino, said that he was being treated for multiple myeloma, a cancer of white blood cells in the bone marrow, which compromised his immune system. Although being vaccinated as Powell was reduces the chances for severe disease breakthrough cases have been reported related to the Delta variant especially in those who are older and have weakened immune systems.

Distinguished 35-year career

Colin Powell was born to Jamaican parents who had immigrated to New York and grew up in the South Bronx. He decided to pursue a career in the military and at the City University of New York, he participated in the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC). He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army upon graduation in 1958.

He served two tours of duty in Vietnam and quickly rose through the ranks. His peers referred to him as a “water walker”, a term of reverence reserved for the most talented officers. Powell was promoted to one-star general at the age of 42, the youngest general officer in the Army at the time. He set several firsts in the years to come, being the first Black National Security Adviser, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State.

The reluctant warrior

Powell served under former President Ronald Reagan from 1987 to 1989 as US National Security Adviser. And beginning in 1989 was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff until 1993. Under President George HW Bush, Powell oversaw a number of crisis, one of which was the 1991 Gulf War in which the US expelled Iraqi forces from Kuwait. During his time in the post he earned the nickname “the reluctant warrior” advocating to first try diplomacy and containment before military intervention.

He became Secretary of State in 2001 in the George W Bush administration. His time there would leave the darkest "blot" on his distinguished career when he was sent to the United Nations in 2003 to convince the world that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction in the lead-up to the eventual invasion. He left the George W Bush administration in 2005.


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