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Biden Calls Late General Colin Powell 'a Patriot Of Unmatched Honor And Dignity'

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President Joe Biden termed the late General Colin Powell "a patriot of unmatched honor and dignity".

"Having repeatedly broken racial barriers, blazing a trail for others to follow in Federal Government service, Colin was committed throughout his life to investing in the next generation of leadership," he said in a condolence message on the death of the four-star general.

Gen. Powell, who was also the first Black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the youngest, died at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, in Bethesda, Maryland. He was 84. Although he was fully vaccinated, his family said in a statement that he died of complications from COVID-19. "We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American," Powell's family said in a statement.

The son of immigrants, born in New York City, raised in Harlem and the South Bronx, he rose to the highest ranks of the United States military and to advise four presidents.

With a degree from the City University of New York, Powell was commissioned in 1958. By the time his nearly half-century career in public service had ended, the son of Jamaican immigrants had in many ways come to symbolize the American dream. He was a Black American who began his journey in a segregated nation while rising to the highest levels in government. His career was capped by his oversight of the 1991 Gulf War while chairman of the Joint Chiefs and later as secretary of state during the administration of President George W. Bush.

As chairman, Powell also presided over the U.S. invasions of Panama in 1989 and Somalia in 1992, as well as dozens of other U.S. military operations overseas. He was guided by his belief that when the U.S. military acts, it should do so with overwhelming force and only when the goals are clear and attainable — a philosophy that came to be known as the Powell Doctrine.

After the Persian Gulf War, Powell received a Congressional Gold Medal, struck in his honor, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Powell also served as the senior military advisor to Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger and as national security advisor to President Ronald Reagan. He helped to guide the U.S invasion of Grenada in 1983 that was carried out in response to a communist threat on the island. Three years later, he also was instrumental in U.S. retaliation for a terrorist attack at a West Berlin disco blamed on Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi in which two American servicemen were killed.

Powell was credited with crafting a compromise known as "don't ask, don't tell" in which homosexuals entering the U.S. military would not be asked about their sexual orientation and would be allowed to serve as long as they kept it private.

At his retirement in 1993, General Powell was awarded a second Presidential Medal of Freedom, this one with distinction. Later that year Queen Elizabeth II made him an honorary Knight Commander of the Bath.

In an address to the United Nations Security Council during the final days before the 2003 Iraq invasion, Powell alleged that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has biological weapons, which later proved to be based on faulty intelligence. He announced his resignation as secretary of state the next year.

As a mark of respect for General Powell and his life of service to the Nation, the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds until October 22.

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