Colin Powell leaves at 84 – Fort Carson Mountaineer

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Army General Colin Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, left, Army General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, commander of U.S. Central Command, and his wife Brenda ride in the Welcome Home Parade, June 10, 1991, to honor the men and women who lived in Desert Storm. In June 1981 Powell became Assistant Division Commander for Operations of 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized) at Fort Carson through August 1982. (Courtesy photo)

By Nick Simeone

DOD news

Editor’s Note: The following story has been localized to include Colin Powell’s time at Fort Carson. In June 1981 Powell became assistant division commander for operations of the 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized) at Fort Carson until August 1982.

Army General Colin Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, left, Army General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, commander of U.S. Central Command, and his wife Brenda ride in the Welcome Home Parade, June 10, 1991, to honor the men and women who lived in Desert Storm.  In June 1981 Powell became Assistant Division Commander for Operations of 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized) at Fort Carson through August 1982. (Courtesy photo)

Army General Colin Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, left, Army General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, commander of U.S. Central Command, and his wife Brenda ride in the Welcome Home Parade, June 10, 1991, to honor the men and women who lived in Desert Storm. In June 1981 Powell became Assistant Division Commander for Operations of 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized) at Fort Carson through August 1982. (Courtesy photo)

WASHINGTON – Retired Army General Colin L. Powell, who was a ROTC cadet, rose to be the first black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and later served as Secretary of State, died on October 18, 2021 at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. He was 84.

Despite being fully vaccinated, his family said in a statement that he died from complications from COVID-19.

“We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American,” said a statement from Powell’s family.

Powell was commissioned with a degree from the City University of New York in 1958. By the end of his nearly half-century civil service career, the son of Jamaican immigrants had become, in many ways, a symbol of the American dream. He was a black American who began his journey in a separate nation as he rose to the highest levels of government. His career was crowned by overseeing the Gulf War in 1991 as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and later as Secretary of State during the tenure of President George W. Bush.

As chairman, Powell also led the US invasions in Panama in 1989 and Somalia in 1992, as well as dozens of other US military operations abroad. It was guided by a belief that the US military should act with overwhelming force and only when the goals are clear and achievable – a philosophy that came to be known as the Powell Doctrine.

After the Persian Gulf War Powell received an honorary Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Upon his retirement, Powell was awarded a second Presidential Medal of Freedom, this one with distinction. Later that year, Queen Elizabeth II named him Honorary Knight Commander of the Bath.

leading position

Powell also served as senior military advisor to Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger and as national security advisor to President Ronald Reagan. He assisted in the U.S. invasion of Grenada in 1983, carried out in response to a communist threat to the island. Three years later he was also instrumental in the US retaliation for a terrorist attack in a West Berlin discotheque that was blamed on Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi, in which two American soldiers were killed.

When Powell retired from the military in 1993, President Bill Clinton described the four-star general’s career as “a victory for the American dream, for the principle that the people of our nation can rise as far as their talents, their skills , their dreams and their discipline will carry them. “

In fact, Powell has described his career from cadet to soldier-statesman as an achievement that could only have happened in America.

“Mine is the story of a black boy with no early promise from an immigrant family with limited funds who grew up in the South Bronx and somehow rose to become National Security Advisor to the President of the United States and then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.” Of Staff, ” Powell wrote in 1995 in his autobiography “My American Journey”. “It’s a story of service and soldier work. It’s a story about the people who made me who I am. “

During his military career, Powell served in a variety of command and staff positions in the United States and overseas, including as platoon leader in West Germany at the height of the Cold War, battalion commander in South Korea, and two tours in Vietnam. There he was a consultant to the

South Vietnamese Army and later as Commander in Chief in the 23rd Infantry Division. He received the Soldier’s Medal after surviving a helicopter crash in which he dragged comrades out of the burning wreckage and the Purple Heart after being injured by a booby trap while on patrol. They are among more than a dozen military awards he received, including the Legion of Merit.

Struggle for civil rights

Powell’s rapid rise through the military coincided with the struggle black Americans faced during the civil rights tumult of the 1960s. In his autobiography, he drew a vivid contrast between the sacrifices he and other black American soldiers made for the war in Vietnam and the reality they faced after returning to a secluded South. He described how as a wounded war veteran he was denied service in a restaurant in Georgia, even though he had risked his life for his country in the distant war in Asia.

U.S. Army Gen. Colin Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks via satellite with the Pentagon while visiting troops during Operation Desert Shield.  In June 1981, Powell became assistant division commander for operations of the 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized) at Fort Carson through August 1982. (Courtesy photo)

U.S. Army Gen. Colin Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks via satellite with the Pentagon while visiting troops during Operation Desert Shield. In June 1981, Powell became assistant division commander for operations of the 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized) at Fort Carson through August 1982. (Courtesy photo)

When Powell became chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George HW Bush in 1989, Powell led the military in a world transformed by the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union. It was his experience in Vietnam, he later wrote, that helped determine when, as the country’s senior military officer, he was to use military force.

“Have a clear political goal and stick to it. Use all necessary strength and do not apologize for growing up when you need to, ”he wrote. “Resolute violence ends wars quickly and saves lives in the long run. Whatever threats we may face in the future, I intended to make these rules the foundation of my military advisor. “

Almost immediately after taking office, Powell ran into a crisis in Panama, where long-time US ally General Manuel Noriega had canceled an election earlier this year and was also charged with drug offenses in the US. In December 1989, US forces entered the country to remove it. What followed was the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, which led the US and a coalition of armed forces to go to war to liberate the tiny emirate. A year later, the US military landed on the beaches of Somalia to feed a nation hit by widespread famine.

“Don’t ask, don’t tell”

Then came the advent of President Bill Clinton’s administration, and with it the new president’s pledge to lift the ban on gays and lesbians from openly serving in the military. While he and the rest of the military leadership opposed the change, Powell was credited with making a compromise called “don’t ask, don’t tell” in which homosexuals joining the military would not and would not be asked about their sexual orientation serve as long as they kept it private.

Powell at the time rejected analogies with racial integration within the military.

“I continued to see a fundamental difference. The coexistence of people of different skin color in intimate situations is very different from what is required of people of different sexual orientation, ”he wrote in his autobiography.

“Don’t ask, don’t tell” was repealed by the Obama administration in 2011 and gays and lesbians have been able to serve openly ever since. Powell said he supported the revision and acknowledged that views about gays in the military and in public life had evolved.

When the US was attacked by al-Qaida terrorists on September 11, 2001, Powell had already retired from the military. But he was reassigned to the government that year to serve as Secretary of State to President George W. Bush. In the aftermath of the attacks, Powell was tasked with establishing a case with the United Nations that Iraq’s alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction posed an acute threat to the United States and the world.

In an address to the UN Security Council in the last few days before the 2003 Iraq invasion, Powell set out a detailed case about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein’s alleged weapons program. “There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein is about biological weapons and the ability has to produce more quickly, ”he said, adding that the Iraqi leader was also working on sourcing nuclear components.

Regret for Iraq

When no weapons were found after the invasion and it became clear that the US and others had acted in part on the basis of inaccurate intelligence, Powell recalled his testimony as a painful “eyesore” on his file. He said he deeply regretted his presentation and admitted that those who provided the US with such information were wrong. The next year he announced his resignation as foreign minister.

By the time his civil service career ended, Powell had become as influential in the military as he was a policy maker; he continued to appear as a frequent commentator on public affairs programs and interviews. He has also served on boards of directors, made speeches around the world, and founded the America’s Promise charity, which helps disadvantaged children.


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