Colin Powell

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General Colin Powell
65th United States Secretary of State
In office
January 20, 2001 – January 26, 2005
President George W. Bush
Deputy Richard Armitage
Preceded by Madeleine Albright
Succeeded by Condoleezza Rice
12th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
In office
October 1, 1989 – September 30, 1993
President George H. W. Bush
Bill Clinton
Deputy Robert T. Herres (1989)
David E. Jeremiah (1989-1993)
Preceded by William J. Crowe
Succeeded by David E. Jeremiah
16th National Security Advisor
In office
President Ronald Reagan
Deputy John Negroponte
Preceded by Frank Carlucci
Succeeded by Brent Scowcroft
Personal details
Born April 5, 1937 (1937-04-05) (age 79)
New York City, New York, U.S.A.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Alma Vivian Johnson Powell
Alma mater City College of New York
George Washington University
Profession Soldier
Religion Episcopalian
Military service
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch Army
Years of service 1958-1993
Rank General
Unit 3rd Armored Division
Americal Division
Commands Forces Command
Battles/wars Vietnam War
Invasion of Panama
Gulf War

Colin Luther Powell,[1] KCB (Honorary), MSC, (born April 5, 1937) is a retired General in the United States Army. He was the 65th United States Secretary of State (2001-2005), serving under President George W. Bush. He was the first African American appointed to that position.[2][3][4][5] As a General in the United States Army, Powell also served as National Security Advisor (1987–1989) and as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1989–1993), holding the latter position during the Gulf War. He was the first and, so far, the only African American to serve on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Early life[change | change source]

He was born Colin Luther Powell on April 5, 1937, in Harlem, New York City, New York.[1] His father, Luther Powell, was a shipping clerk.[6] His mother, Maud Powell, was a seamstress.[6] Both had immigrated to the United States from Jamaica.[1] He grew up in south Bronx.[7] He joined the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) while he was a student at City College of New York.[7] He commanded his unit's precision drill team and achieved the highest rank in ROTC, cadet colonel.[8] When he graduated in 1958, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the United States Army.[7]

Army career[change | change source]

His first assignment was in West Germany.[9] He was promoted to the rank of Captain on 1 June 1962.[10] Powell then served two tours of duty during the Vietnam War.[6] He was wounded twice while in Vietnam. Once by a Viet Cong booby trap.[6] He received a Purple Heart.[1] A year later he received a Bronze Star Medal.[1] He was wounded a second time in a helicopter crash where he saved two other soldiers.[6] For this action he was awarded the Soldier's Medal.[9] Between his two tours in Vietnam, Powell was promoted to the rank of major in May of 1966.[10]

Powell then earned an MBA degree at George Washington University in Washington, DC. He received a White House fellowship and worked in the Office of Management and Budget during 1972–1973.[6] As a lieutenant colonel Powell served as a battalion commander in the 2d Infantry Division.[10] In 1975 Powell was promoted to full colonel and became a brigade commander in the 101st Airborne Division.[10] He was promoted to the rank of general in 1989.[7] He was appointed to the position of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff by President George H. W. Bush.[7] He oversaw a number of crisis situations including Operation Desert Storm. In 1993 he retired from the military as a four-star general.[6]

United States Secretary of State[change | change source]

In 2001 he was nominated and confirmed as US Secretary of State. After the September 11 attacks he took a leading role in aligning allies for military action in Afghanistan.[8] Powell dealt with a number of international crises including a near war between India and Pakistan (both of which had nuclear weapons) in 2001-2002.[7] In February 2003 he appeared before the United Nations Security Council. He presented evidence that Iraq was hiding weapons of mass destruction (WMD). This convinced many in the US that Iraq was a threat. In September 2004 he appeared before the United States Congress to testify that the intelligence used to show Iraq had WMDs was wrong.[1] Then, on November 15, 2004, Powell announced his resignation.

Other achievements[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 "Colin Powell Biography". Bio/A&E Television Networks, LLC. Retrieved 21 December 2015.
  2. The first African American secretary of state, Colin Powell, The AfroAmerican Registry
  3. Biographies - Colin Powell: United States Secretary of State, African American History Month, US Department of Defense
  4. Colin Powell, Britannica Online Encyclopedia
  5. Profile: Colin Powell, BBC News
  6. 6.00 6.01 6.02 6.03 6.04 6.05 6.06 6.07 6.08 6.09 6.10 "Colin Powell Fast Facts". CNN. 15 March 2015. Retrieved 21 December 2015.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 "Biographies of the Secretaries of State: Colin L. Powell". Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs, United States Department of State. Retrieved 21 December 2015.
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Colin Powell Biography". American Academy of Achievement. Retrieved 21 December 2015.
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Colin Powell Biography". Encyclopedia of World Biography. Retrieved 21 December 2015.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 LTC Greg Johansen, U.S. Army, 'Strategic Leadership Assessment of Colin L. Powell', U.S. Army War College (7 April 2003), pp. 4–8

Other websites[change | change source]