General Colin Powell: life and quotes of former US secretary of state as he dies of Covid complications at 84
General Colin Powell, who has died from Covid complications, had an illustrious military career as well as serving as US Secretary of State
A retired four star general, Colin Powell, was the first African American to serve as a US Secretary of State.
He held that role from 2001 to 2005 under President George W Bush.
His family announced his death on Monday, 18 October, from Covid complications at the age of 84, he had been fully vaccinated.
Mr Powell, who was born in New York, served in Vietnam, and was promoted to the rank of general in 1989. He also served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the early 1990s.
Here is all you need to know about his life and career.
Who was Colin Powell?
He was born on April 5 in 1937 in Harlem, New York, to Jamaican parents, and was brought up in the South Bronx.
His military service began when he attended City College of New York, and joined the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC). After his graduation in 1958, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army.
During his 35 years in the army, he served two tours in Vietnam, and was wounded by a booby trap.
Among the 11 military decorations he received was a Purple Heart and the Legion of Merit.
A bronze bust at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, is dedicated to him.
How did he come to serve as US Secretary of State?
Mr Powell became President Ronald Reagan‘s Deputy National Security Advisor in 1987, and then National Security Advisor from 1988 until 1989.
That year he was promoted to the rank of general, and was appointed by President George H.W. Bush to the position of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
During his four years in that role, he oversaw 28 crises, including Operation Desert Storm in 1991. He retired in 1993, but was nominated for Secretary of State by President George W. Bush on December 16, 2000.
Despite speculation that he would run for president, although he never entered the race, he joined the Republican party in 1996.
In 1997, he founded America’s Promise to help children from all walks of life.
What was he known for as US Secretary of State?
The terrorist attacks of September 11 happened early into his term and Mr Powell was in favour of taking military action against Al-Queda.
He called for UN inspectors to investigate the potential that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was manufacturing weapons of mass destruction.
The Bush administration had moved quickly towards military action against Iraq, despite Mr Powell’s advice that war should not begin until a large coalition of allies were in place.
He came under fire for his role in building a case for the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Mr Powell presented intelligence to the UN that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, though this was later revealed to be based on faulty intelligence.
In 2004 he announced his resignation after acknowledging it was unlikely that Iraq possessed stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.
What is he famous for saying?
Many people were inspired by Mr Powell, and he was known for his meaningful statement.
Among his well-know quotes were: “Get mad, then get over it.”
“Never neglect details. When everyone’s mind is dulled or distracted the leader must be doubly vigilant.”
“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure.”
“Failure is a part of life and you have to learn to deal with it. Failure is something that is part of life’s cycle and it’s from failure that you gain life experience.”
What have people said about him?
Tributes have poured in since Mr Powell’s death was announced.
In a statement the Powell family said: “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. He was fully vaccinated. We want to thank the medical staff at Walter Reed National Medical Center for their caring treatment. We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American. “
The US Naval Institute tweeted: “#RIP former Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell who died today of COVID-19 complications at the age of 84. A great friend of the U.S. Naval Institute, he spoke at a 2017 event about the relationship between the military and politics.”
While former President George W Bush said he and his wife, former First Lady, Laura Bush were “saddened” to hear of his death, he said: “He was a great public servant starting with his time in Vietnam. Many presidents relied on General Powell’s counsel and experience.”
And former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani said: “Colin Powell was a great American and a good friend. I was one of a small, but determined group, that urged him to run for President in 1996. What if???”
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair, who led the UK into the Iraq war alongside the US, said: “Colin was a towering figure in American military and political leadership over many years, someone of immense capability and integrity, a hugely likeable and warm personality and a great companion, with a lovely and self-deprecating sense of humour.
“He was wonderful to work with, he inspired loyalty and respect and was one of those leaders who always treated those under them with kindness and concern.
“His life stands as a testament not only to dedicated public service but also a strong belief in willingness to work across partisan division in the interests of his country.”
Downing Street said Colin Powell had been a “close friend” of the UK who “broke new ground” in the US.
Mr Powell rose to the military rank of four-star general and in 1989 became the first black chairman of the joint chiefs of staff.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Colin Powell was a respected and impressive diplomat and soldier who broke new ground and was a close friend of the United Kingdom and we are saddened to hear of his death.”
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