18 October 2021
Colin Powell, the first Black American to serve as secretary of state and top military officer, has died at the age of 84.
His family said Monday in a statement on Facebook that Powell died because of "complications from Covid 19. He was fully vaccinated."
"We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father and grandfather and a great American," the family said. Powell had been treated at Walter Reed National Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
Powell was one of the leading Black Americans for many years. He served three Republican presidents in senior positions.
Powell joined the army in 1962 and was wounded in Vietnam. He served as U.S. national security adviser under President Ronald Reagan from 1987 to 1989. As a four-star Army general, he was chairman of the military's Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George H.W. Bush during the 1991 Gulf War. In that position, he oversaw the U.S.-led allied forces to remove Iraqi troops from neighboring Kuwait.
As Joint Chiefs chairman, he supported the idea that the U.S. should only fight if it has clear objectives with public support, enough firepower and a strategy for ending the war.
During his time as secretary of state under former President George W. Bush, Powell argued before the U.N. Security Council in 2003 that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was a danger to the world. Using incorrect intelligence information, he said Iraq was keeping chemical and biological weapons. Powell later said the presentation was "a blot" – or a mark of shame -- that will "always be a part of my record."
Powell, a Republican, considered running for president in 1996 but changed his mind because his wife Alma worried about his safety. In 2008, he supported Democrat Barack Obama, who became the first Black American elected to the White House.
Powell rose from a childhood in a poor New York neighborhood to become the nation's chief diplomat. He wrote in his 1995 book My American Journey, "Mine is the story of a black kid of no early promise from an immigrant family of limited means who was raised in the South Bronx."
Powell is survived by his wife, Alma, and their three children.
On Monday, former President George W. Bush said that he and former first lady Laura Bush were "deeply saddened" by Powell's death.
Bush wrote, "He was a great public servant" and "widely respected at home and abroad."
The former president added: "And most important, Colin was a family man and a friend. Laura and I send Alma and their children our sincere condolences as they remember the life of a great man."
I'm Ashley Thompson.
Hai Do adapted this story for VOA Learning English based on reporting from The Associated Press and Reuters. Ashley Thompson was the editor.
Words in This Story
complication - n. a problem that makes a disease or condition more dangerous or harder to treat
strategy - n. a careful plan for achieving a specific goal usually over a long period of time
abroad - adv. in a foreign country
condolence - n. a feeling or expression of sympathy and sadness