The retired general was the first black man to serve in the role and military adviser to a number of leading US politicians
The former US Secretary of State Colin Powell has died aged 84 due to complications from Covid-19.
A statement released by his family said the retired general was fully vaccinated and was being treated at Walter Reed National Military Medical Centre, in Maryland.
Mr Powell was America’s first black Secretary of State and served in the role between 2001 and 2005 as part of Republican President George Bush’s administration.
The statement said: “General Colin L. Powell, former US Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, passed away this morning due to complications from Covid 19.
” He was fully vaccinated. We want to thank the medical staff at Walter Reed National Medical Center for their caring treatment. We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American.”
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair was among those who paid tribute to Mr Powell on Monday.
He said: “Colin was a towering figure in American military and political leadership over many years, someone of immense capability and integrity, a hugely likeable and warm personality and a great companion, with a lovely and self-deprecating sense of humour.
“He was wonderful to work with, he inspired loyalty and respect and was one of those leaders who always treated those under them with kindness and concern. His life stands as a testament not only to dedicated public service but also a strong belief in willingness to work across partisan division in the interests of his country.
“I am so sorry to hear the news of his death. He still had so much to give. My thoughts and prayers are Alma and all his large and loving extended family.”
The Walter Reed National Military Medical Centre in Bethesda, Maryland, is where then President Donald Trump was treated when he contracted Covid.
In September 1993, the Queen gave Powell an honorary knighthood, in recognition of his contribution to British-US relations and his role in the Gulf War.
As an honorary award – bestowed on non-British citizens – it did not entitle him to call himself Sir Colin, but it is the highest honour the UK can bestow on a foreigner.
Born in April 1937 in Harlem, New York, to Jamaican immigrants, Powell was brought up in the tough South Bronx area of the city.
During his teenage years he became an army cadet, setting him on a path with the military.
As a distinguished soldier his career took him from combat duty in Vietnam racing up the ranks.
He would go on to become the first Black national security adviser during the end of Ronald Reagan’s presidency and the youngest and first African American chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George H.W. Bush.
“I think it shows to the world what is possible in this country,” Powell said of his historic nomination during his Senate confirmation hearing.
“It shows to the world that: Follow our model, and over a period of time from our beginning, if you believe in the values that espouse, you can see things as miraculous as me sitting before you to receive your approval.”
His national popularity soared in the aftermath of the US-led coalition victory during the Gulf War, and for a time in the mid-90s, he was considered a leading contender to become the first black President of States.
However, his reputation was damaged when, as George W. Bush’s first secretary of state, he pushed faulty intelligence before the United Nations to advocate for the Iraq War, which he would later call a “blot” on his record.
Later in his public life, he grew disillusioned with the Republican Party’s rightward push and would use his political weight to help elect Democrats to the White House, most notably Barack Obama, the first Black president whom Powell endorsed in the final weeks of the 2008 campaign.
More recently, he was an avowed critic of Trump going as far to say he could no longer consider himself a Republican because of him.
Last year Powell called on voters not to reelect the businessman saying it’s time to make America better for all people, not just a few.
“I think he has not been an effective president,” Powell said.
“He lies all the time. He began lying the day of inauguration, when we got into an argument about the size of the crowd that was there. People are writing books about this favourite thing of lying. And I don’t think that’s in our interest.”
Powell is survived by his wife, Alma Vivian (Johnson) Powell, whom he married in 1962, as well as three children.