By Erica Thomas, Managing Editor
Retired Army Gen. Colin L. Powell passed away early Monday, according to a statement from his family. The former U.S. Secretary of State was 84.
The family said Powell died from complications from COVID-19.
“We want to thank the medical staff at Walter Reed National Medical Center for their caring treatment,” the family stated. “We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American.”
The family said Powell was fully vaccinated.
Powell had been undergoing treatment for a type of blood cancer according to reporters. According to his long-time aide, Peggy Cifrino, Powell had been receiving treatment for myeloma, a type of cancer that is known to weaken the immune system.
The retired four-star general served as Secretary of State from 2001 to 2005, under President George W. Bush. He was the first African American Secretary of State in U.S. history,and the youngest person to serve as chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
"Colin Powell was a decorated public servant and a true statesment,'' said Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL). "He dedicated his life to protecting the freedomes we hold dear and fostered a legacy of integrity and grit throughout his career. Today, our nation mourns the loss of a great American."
Congressman Robert Aderholt (AL-04) issued a statement via twitter saying, "I am very sorry to hear that Colin Powell has passed away. ALthough I didn't always agree with him politically, his service to our nation is something we can all admire and respect."
Powell was from New York City. He was the son of a Jamaican couple that immigrated to the U.S. Powell was born on April 5, 1937 and grew up in the South Bronx.
He attended George Washington University, the City College of New York and the United States Army Command and General Staff College.
Powell also served as the United States National Security Advisor from 1987 to 1989, and as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1989 until 1993. He oversaw nearly two dozen crises, including Operation Desert Storm and the Persian Gulf War.
He was awarded two Presidential Medals of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal, the Presidential Citizens Medal, the Secretary of State Distinguished Service Medal, and the Secretary of Energy Distinguished Service Medal.
Upon retirement, he released his autobiography, “My American Journey,” a story about a young man overcoming a tough life on the streets then once again facing challenges in a powerful position.
Powell recently spoke at the Kennedy Center for the 9/11 Commemoration event.
It is unclear when Powell was diagnosed with COVID-19, but the CDC recently posted new data about the vaccine. The CDC said although the vaccine does not stop the spread of the virus, the unvaccinated have a six times higher chance of contracting COVID-19. Furthermore, the unvaccinated have an 11 times higher risk of dying from COVID-19 than the vaccinated. It is believed that those with compromised immune systems are likely not as protected from severe symptoms.