Former Gen. Colin Powell died at the age of 84 due to complications from COVID-19.
Here are six things to know about the military man turned statesman, compiled by the State Department’s Office of the Historian.
1. Powell was born April 5, 1937 in Harlem. He was raised by Jamaican immigrant parents in the Bronx. He attended City College of New York where he joined the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC).
Powell graduated in 1958 and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army.
2. Powell served 35 years in the Army with two tours in Vietnam. He also was stationed in West Germany and South Korea.
He was President Ronald Reagan’s Deputy National Security Advisor, named to the position in 1987. He was named National Security Advisor, serving Reagan from 1988 to 1989.
3. Powell was promoted to general in 1989 and was named as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for four years under President George H.W. Bush. During Powell’s time as chairman, he oversaw 28 crises including Operation Desert Storm.
4. Powell retired in 1993 and founded America’s Promise, an organization to help at-risk children.
5. Seven years after retirement, he was nominated as Secretary of State under President George W. Bush. When he was confirmed. he became the first Black Secretary of State in the country’s history.
In addition to reforming the Department of State’s personnel, information technology and security systems, as well as the department’s facilities, Powell was Secretary of State during the September 11, 2001 attacks.
In his capacity, Powell supported taking military action against al-Qaeda shortly after the attacks.
He also presented intelligence to the United Nations that claimed Iraq and its leader Saddam Hussein were manufacturing weapons of mass destruction. The research laid the groundwork for preemptive military action in Iraq. The research Powell used was found to be inaccurate.
Powell also worked with Russia and China to smooth relationships with the countries.
He also worked with the administration to get international support for the fight against AIDS.
Powell ended his role as Secretary of State on Nov. 15, 2004.
6. After leaving the state department, Powell returned to private life, working with America’s Promise Alliance, serving on the boards of directors of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Eisenhower Fellowship Program and the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership at the City College of New York.
The college said Powell never missed graduation from the Colin Powell School and he shook the hand of every student who earned a degree.
During an interview in 2013, Powell said of his legacy: “My life has been blessed because I have had a chance to serve my country, and I’ve had a chance to do things that have benefited my country. And when it’s all over, I just hope that they say, ‘He was a good soldier, he raised a good family, and God bless him.’ That’s all I ask for.”
©2021 Cox Media Group