Colin Powell, former U.S. Secretary of State under President George W. Bush, died at age 84 on Monday due to Covid-19 complications, according to family. He was fully vaccinated but was dealing with a breakthrough case at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center before his passing.

During his near-two-decade run of service in national politics, Colin Powell was one of the foremost prominent African Americans in the history of the federal government before Barack Obama took office in 2009.

He also served as National Security Advisor under Reagan and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under George H.W. Bush, the highest-ranking military officer position in the nation. In 2003, a speech at the United Nations given by Powell strengthened the nations commitment to going to war with Iraq and overthrow Saddam Hussein.

“We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American,” the family said in a statement. He is survived by his wife, Alma Powell, and their three children–Michael, Linda, and Annemarie.

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright released a statement, saying he “was a wise and principled man, a loyal friend, and one of the kindest people I have ever met.”

“My heart is sad for I have lost a friend,” she said in a tweeted statement. “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,” she continued.

“I am a better person for having known him, and America is a better place because of him,” Albright said. “He never forgot that he was a soldier.”

Born on Apr. 5, 1937, in Harlem, N.Y., Colin Powell was raised in the South Bronx by his parents Luther and Maud Powell, immigrants from Jamaica. He graduated from City College of New York and served in the military for 35 years. By 1989, he was the Commander of the U.S. Army Forces Command.

During his time as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he led Operation Desert Storm, an attack on Iraq after they invaded Kuwait and threatened oil prices. He also wrote the “Powell Doctrine,” which limited global military use unless it was a matter of national security–a policy he began forming as National Security Advisor under Reagan.

Though he never ran for President, Colin Powell, a lifelong Republican, donated heavily to John McCain’s presidential run in 2008, despite later endorsing Barack Obama, calling him a “transformational figure.”

Colin Powell delivering a speech in Jan. 1991, during his tenure as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He passed away on Oct. 18, 2021 due to complications from Covid-19
Colin Powell delivering a speech in Jan. 1991, during his tenure as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He passed away on Oct. 18, 2021, due to complications from Covid-19. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

A respected politician and military leader throughout the ’90s and early 2000s, Colin Powell was one of the most popular public figures in America at the time. Though haunted by his controversial decision to pave the way for the Iraq War, he wrote a bestselling memoir, My American Journey, in 1995, and then a follow-up, It Worked for Me, Lessons in Life and Leadership, in 2012.

“It was by no means my first, but it was one of my most momentous failures, the one with the widest-ranging impact,” he wrote of his role in the Iraq War in It Worked for Me. “The event will earn a prominent paragraph in my obituary.”

In a statement on Monday, former President George W. Bush said that Colin Powell was a “great public servant,” and “such a favorite of Presidents that he earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom — twice.”

“He was highly respected at home and abroad,” Bush wrote, “and most important, Colin was a family man and a friend.”

Stacey Abrams, a Democratic speaker and former member of Congress from Georgia wrote, “Godspeed to Secretary Colin Powell who led with integrity, admitted fallibility and defended democracy. Deepest condolences to his loved ones and friends.”

“Today, the nation lost a man of undaunted courage and a champion of character,” said Senator Mitt Romney. “A statesmen & trailblazer, devoted to America and the cause of liberty, Colin Powell’s legacy of service & honor will long inspire. Ann & I offer our love & sincere condolences to Alma and his family.”

According to CNN, more than 7,000 breakthrough cases of Covid-19 have resulted in death. Colin Powell was fully vaccinated when he passed away of Covid-19 complications, however those over the age of 80 have a wider margin. The possibility of surviving a breakthrough case is stronger after both doses of the vaccine and a booster shot.