WASHINGTON — Former Secretary of State Colin Powell has died from coronavirus complications, his family announced Monday morning. He was 84.
“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,” read a statement posted to his official Facebook page. “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.”
CBS News reported that Powell’s wife, Alma Powell also had contracted a COVID-19 breakthrough case but responded to treatments. The news outlet is the only one to do so as of late Monday morning.
Powell had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer of plasma cells, a source has told CNN.
The condition suppresses the immune system.
A person who is immunocompromised has a greater risk of dying from coronavirus, even if they are fully vaccinated, CNN reported.
Powell, a retired four-star general, made history in 1987 when he became the first Black national security adviser under then-President Ronald Reagan, according to CNN. He also was the first Black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, and the first Black secretary of state under former President George W. Bush.
Powell leaves behind his wife, Alma, and their three children, CNN reported.
President Joe Biden released a statement on the death of Powell, saying that he and first lady Jill Biden are “deeply saddened.”
“Colin embodied the highest ideals of both warrior and diplomat. He was committed to our nation’s strength and security above all. Having fought in wars, he understood better than anyone that military might alone was not enough to maintain our peace and prosperity. From his front-seat view of history, advising presidents and shaping our nation’s policies, Colin led with his personal commitment to the democratic values that make our country strong. Time and again, he put country before self, before party, before all else—in uniform and out—and it earned him the universal respect of the American people,” the president said.
You can read his entire statement here.
In a statement, the younger Bush said he and former first lady Laura Bush “are deeply saddened” by Powell’s death.
“He was a great public servant, starting with his time as a soldier during Vietnam,” the statement read, adding that Powell “was such a favorite of presidents that he earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom – twice.”
The statement continued: “He was highly respected at home and abroad. 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.”
Former President Barack Obama called Powell “an example of what America — and Americans — can and should be.”
Several of Powell’s colleagues, as well as journalists and other public figures, also took to social media to remember him. Here’s what they were saying:
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