Colin Powell, the son of Jamaican immigrants who rose to become the first Black U.S. secretary of state and top military officer, has died at the age of 84.
Powell died of complications from COVID-19, his family said early Monday on his Facebook page. He was 84.
In the post, his family said Powell had been fully vaccinated and was receiving care at Walter Reed National Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. The Powell family’s social media post did not address whether Powell had any underlying illnesses, but Peggy Cifrino, Powell’s longtime aide, told The Associated Press he had been treated over the past few years for multiple myeloma, a blood cancer.
In a long military career that included service in the Vietnam War, Powell rose to public prominence by serving as national security adviser under President Ronald Reagan beginning in 1987, two years later becoming the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In the latter role he oversaw the U.S. invasion of Panama and later the U.S. invasion of Kuwait to oust the Iraqi army in 1991.
Powell, who resisted calls to run for president himself later that decade, would go on to be nominated by President George W. Bush to serve as secretary of state in 2001. Powell was the first Black person to serve as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and secretary of state.
The former President Bush called him a “great public servant” in a statement.