Former President George W. Bush on Monday said he is “deeply saddened” by the death of his first secretary of State, Colin PowellColin PowellHow American progressives normalize anti-Semitism Juan Williams: The GOP is an anti-America party Defense & National Security — Biden marks Veterans Day MORE, calling the former diplomat and military leader "a great public servant.”
“Laura and I are deeply saddened by the death of Colin Powell. He was a great public servant, starting with his time as a soldier during Vietnam,” Bush said in a statement issued shortly after Powell's family announced his death on Monday morning.
Powell’s family issued a statement announcing his death at the age of 84 due to COVID-19 complications.
He was fully vaccinated and was being treated at the Walter Reed National Medical Center. He had also reportedly been diagnosed with multiple myeloma.
Bush tapped Powell to serve as his secretary of State in December 2000, calling him “an American hero, an American example and a great American story.”
Powell became the first Black American to serve in the role.
Before that, he served in the Reagan administration as national security adviser and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Clinton.
Bush, in his statement on Monday, said “many Presidents relied on General Powell’s counsel and experience,” contending that he was “a favorite of Presidents.”
“He was National Security Adviser under President Reagan, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under my father and President Clinton, and Secretary of State during my Administration. He was such a favorite of Presidents that he earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom — twice. He was highly respected at home and abroad,” Bush said.
He also said that most importantly, Powell was a friend and a family man.
“Laura and I send Alma and their children our sincere condolences as they remember the life of a great man,” Bush added.
Powell had a decorated military career, serving two tours in Vietnam.
Powell, during his tenure as secretary of State, led the country on the diplomatic front in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and in the lead up to the United States’ invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the latter of which he later faced criticism over.
In a speech before the United Nations in 2003, Powell presented what he said was intelligence that showed that the Iraqi military was deceiving U.N. inspectors and possessed weapons of mass destruction.
Inspectors, however, later concluded that such weapons did not exist in Iraq, and a government report published in 2005 said the intelligence community was "dead wrong" in its assessment.
Powell later said he regretted giving the speech before the U.N. because of the information he later learned.