(Reuters) – Colin Powell, the first Black U.S. secretary of state and top military officer, died on Monday at the age of 84 due to complications from COVID-19. He was fully vaccinated, his family said in a statement on Facebook.
Following are reactions to his death from politicians and military leaders:
U.S. PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN
“Colin embodied the highest ideals of both warrior and diplomat. He was committed to our nation’s strength and security above all. Having fought in wars, he understood better than anyone that military might alone was not enough to maintain our peace and prosperity…
“From his front-seat view of history, advising presidents and shaping our nation’s policies, Colin led with his personal commitment to democratic values that make our country strong. Time and again, he put country before self, before party, before all else – in uniform and out – and it earned him the universal respect of the American people.
“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.”
FORMER PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA
“General Powell was an exemplary soldier and an exemplary patriot. He was at the center of some of the most consequential events of our lifetimes…. And although he’d be the first to acknowledge that he didn’t get every call right, his actions reflected what he believed was best for America and the people he served.
“Along the way, General Powell helped a generation of young people set their sights higher. He never denied the role that race played in his own life and in our society more broadly. But he also refused to accept that race would limit his dreams, and through his steady and principled leadership, helped pave the way for so many who would follow.”
FORMER PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH
“He was a great public servant, starting with his time as a soldier during Vietnam. Many presidents relied on General Powell’s counsel and experience.
“He was such a favorite of presidents that he earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom – twice. He was highly respected at home and abroad. And most important, Colin was a family man and a friend.”
FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER JOHN MAJOR
“Colin Powell was one of the finest men I ever met. And, perhaps, one of the finest Americans never to be president.
“Both in the military and in government he led with calm authority, and was an inspiration to all those who served alongside him.
“During the first Gulf War – as Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff – we could not have wished for a stronger ally, nor one who commanded such affection and respect from our own Armed Forces.
“Throughout his long and exceptional career, Colin served with honor and distinction. He was a true public servant, who I was proud to call a friend.”
U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE ANTONY BLINKEN
“Powell’s career in the U.S. military is legendary… By the time he retired from the military he was arguably the most respected and celebrated American in uniform.”
FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER
“A true patriot and public servant, we were honored to work beside him to strengthen communities in the United States, help resolve conflict in Haiti, and observe elections in Jamaica. His courage and integrity will be an inspiration for generations to come.”
FORMER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON
“He lived the promise of America, and spent a lifetime working to help our country, especially our young people, live up to its own ideals and noblest aspirations at home and around the world.”
FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE MADELEINE ALBRIGHT
“My heart is sad for I have lost a friend. Colin Powell was an American icon whose career in public service will always be celebrated and remembered, but to me he was simply my friend Colin.
“Although we grew up in different contexts, we bonded over our family’s immigrant stories, our deep love of America, and our belief in the importance of public service.
“He was a wise and principled man, a loyal friend, and one of the kindest people I have ever met. I am a better person for having known him, and America is a better place because of him.”
U.S. CONGRESSMAN JAMAAL BOWMAN
“As a Black man just trying to figure out the world, Colin Powell was an inspiration. He was from NYC, went to City College, and rose to the highest ranks of our nation. Sending love, strength and prayer to the family and friends of Secretary Powell. Rest in power sir.”
GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER HEIKO MAAS
“With Colin Powell, the United States loses an upright foreign policymaker – and we Europeans a trans-Atlantic bridge builder. As general during the time of reunification, he was very close to our country. We mourn with his family and his friends.”
FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE CONDOLEEZZA RICE
“Today our nation mourns the passing of a truly great man. Colin Powell spent the entirety of his life in service to his country. He was a trusted colleague and dear friend through some very difficult times.”
FORMER JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF CHAIRMAN MARTIN DEMPSEY
“He was a dedicated husband and father, a superb soldier, a warrior on the battlefield and in Washington, and a lifelong public servant. I once asked him which of his many accomplishments made him most proud. He answered without hesitation: ‘the many schools that have been named after me.'”
U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE LLOYD AUSTIN
“The world lost one of the greatest leaders that we have ever witnessed. Alma lost a great husband, and the family lost a tremendous father and I lost a tremendous personal friend and mentor. He has been my mentor for a number of years. He always made time for me and I could always go to him with tough issues. He always had great counsel.”
(Reporting by Washington and London bureaus; Editing by William Maclean and Rosalba O’Brien)