BETHESDA, MD (CelebrityAccess) — Colin Powell, an influential figure in American national security and diplomacy, died at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center from complications of COVID-19 on October 18th. He was 84.
According to the New York Times, his family stated that Powell was fully vaccinated against the virus, however, since 2003, he’s battled multiple myeloma, a form of cancer which compromised his immune system and significantly limited the effectiveness of the vaccine.
A Vietnam veteran, Powell rose to the rank of four star general and later became the first African chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, overseeing the first gulf war to liberate Kuwait in 1991 and gaining widespread public recognition for his role.
His popularity at the time prompted speculation that he might make a presidential run but instead, he joined the administration of George W. Bush in 2001 as Secretary of State, becoming the first black American to hold the post.
However, his tenure in America’ top diplomatic post was sullied in 2003 when he personally addressed the United Nations to present claims that Iraq had reconstituted its nuclear and biological weapons program and possessed stores of prohibited material, justifying an American invasion of the country.
The war, which was presented as an exercise in regime change found no such cache of prohibited armaments and devolved in nearly two decades of bloody mayhem that cost hundreds of thousands of lives and hundreds of billions in tax dollars.
Powell later expressed regret about his role in the war, stating that he had just four days to review the underlying data and telling interviewer Barbara Walters in 2006 that he considered it a “blot” on his record.
“It will always be a part of my record. It was painful. It’s painful now,” he told Walters during the 2006 interview.
Powell resigned from his Cabinet post in 2004, succeeded by Condoleezza Rice.
Following his diplomatic service, Powell became a sought-after public speaker and continued to be a moderate conservative voice in American politics but increasingly distanced himself from the Republican party during the last decade until leaving entirely after the Capitol Riot in January 2021.
Powell’s military honors include a Purple Heart for injuries sustained during his first tour, and a Bronze Star. During his second tour, he was the recipient of the Soldier’s Medal for his efforts to rescue personnel from a burning helicopter despite his own injuries. In total, he received 11 military honors.
As a civilian, Powell was presented with not one but two Presidential Medals of Freedom (the second with distinction), the President’s Citizens Medal, the Congressional Gold Medal, the Secretary of State Distinguished Service Medal, the Secretary of Energy Distinguished Service Medal, and the Ronald Reagan Freedom Award.