UPDATED 8:07 AM PT – Monday, October 18, 2021
There is developing news out of the Walter Reed National Medical Center, where General Colin Powell has reportedly died of complications from COVID-19.
His family posted on Facebook Monday morning, breaking the news that the country’s first black Secretary of State and former Joint Chiefs of Staff has died. The family said he passed away due to complications related to COVID-19 despite being fully vaccinated. He was 84-years old.
Powell served under several Republican administrations and is often credited with shaping American foreign policy. Officials and leaders are reacting to his passing. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke on the former Secretary of State’s death during his visit in Georgia Monday.
“The world lost one of the greatest leaders that we have ever witnessed, ” Austin stated.
The defense secretary expressed his condolences to Powell’s wife Alma, his son Michael and the entire Powell family. Austin talked about the loss of his personal friend and mentor, saying Powell always made time for him.
“We will certainly miss him, I feel as if I have a hole in my heart just learning of this just recently,” Austin continued. “First African-American Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. First African-American Secretary of State. A man who was respected around the globe and it will be, quite frankly, it is not possible to replace a Colin Powell. ”
It will be impossible to replace Gen. Colin Powell. He was a tremendous personal friend and mentor to me, and there’s a hole in my heart right now as I think about his loss. My thoughts and prayers today are with his family, and I want them to know I will miss him dearly. pic.twitter.com/pX24KQMMBc
— Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III (@SecDef) October 18, 2021
Former President George W. Bush also hailed Powell following confirmation of his death. In a statement Monday, Bush praised Powell as a great public servant starting with his time as a soldier during Vietnam.
The 43rd president said he, along the former first lady, are deeply saddened and send their condolences to Powell’s family. He said many presidents relied on the general’s counsel and experience, adding that he was “such a favorite of presidents that he earned the presidential medal of freedom twice.”
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH
ON COLIN POWELL pic.twitter.com/VbCISAEIsx
— CSPAN (@cspan) October 18, 2021
Bush said the general was highly respected at home and abroad, but most importantly a family man and friend.