Many of the nation’s leaders, including several former presidents, paid tribute upon hearing the news of retired general Colin Powell’s death on Oct.18, 2021. Decorated many times over with prestigious accolades for his military and public service, Powell passed away from COVID-19 complications exacerbated by cancer.
Four-Star General, Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, Secretary of State
Net worth: $60 million
Son of Jamaican immigrants, Colin Powell joined the military through the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC). He served two tours of duty in Vietnam and one in Korea. Powell held positions of leadership within multiple White House administrations and was known for putting country before political affiliation.
Birthdate: April 5, 1937
Birthplace: Harlem, New York
Charitable Work: Chairman of America’s Promise
Awards: Presidential Medal of Freedom, Congressional Gold Medal, Presidential Citizens Medal, Secretary of State Distinguished Service Medal, Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, and many more
Political Leadership Roles: Four-star general, National Security Advisor, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Secretary of State
Wife: Alma Vivian Johnson
Children: Michael, Linda, and Annemarie
A brief history of Colin Powell’s military career
Powell had an illustrious career that began with the ROTC as a college student and led to multiple decades in military service. In 1962, he was part of a group of 16,000 American advisors that President Kennedy sent to Vietnam. For injuries incurred during that tour, he was awarded a Purple Heart and Bronze Star.
A second tour of duty in Vietnam was in 1968 and 1969, during which Powell investigated the My Lai massacre and was injured in a helicopter accident.
Colin Powell in Washington
Powell served in various positions of authority under multiple presidents, both Republican and Democrat.
Nixon administration: Powell worked in the Office of Management and Budget.
Carter administration: Powell served as assistant to the deputy secretary of defense and secreatary of energy.
Reagan administration: National Security Advisor
George H.W. Bush administration: promoted to four-star general, briefly Commander-in-Chief, Forces Command (FORSCOM)
George W. Bush administration: Secretary of State
From 1989 to 1993, Powell was the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, which is the highest-ranking official in the Department of Defense. He is also known for being the first African-American in that role.
Powell served as Secretary of State during the first term of President George W. Bush. This was yet another powerful position in which he was the first Black person to be appointed. The Iraq War, which Bush supported, was also justified by Powell, a decision that he later called a “blot” on his record.
During his tenure as Secretary of State under Bush, he was initially skeptical of the idea to invade Iraq and discouraged the president in private. However, he presented a convincing case to the U.N. Security Council in 2003, showing a vial of deadly anthrax and warning that Iraq could be stockpiling weapons of mass destruction.
These weapons were a large part of the argument for waging war on Iraq. However, such weapons were never found, and Powell resigned in 2004, his reputation tarnished.
Powell still held influence over much of the country, and in 2008, he publicly endorsed Barack Obama for president. He also said he had not voted for Trump in either 2016 or 2020, and in Jan. 2021, he renounced the Republican party following the Capitol violence.
Colin Powell’s family
Powell married his wife, Alma Johnson, in 1962. The couple had three children together: Michael, Linda, and Annemarie.