Colin Powell, the first Black US 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.
"We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American," his family said.
Colin Luther Powell was born 5 April 1937, in Harlem, New York, to Jamaican immigrants.
After growing up in the South Bronx, Powell attended school at the City College of New York, where he participated in ROTC, leading the precision drill team and attaining the top rank offered by the corps, cadet colonel.
He entered the US Army after graduating in 1958, and later served two tours in South Vietnam during the 1960s, where he was wounded twice, including during a helicopter crash in which he rescued two soldiers.
Powell stayed in the Army after returning home, attending the National War College and rising in leadership. He was promoted to brigadier general in 1979, appointed as Reagan's final national security adviser in 1987 and was tapped by the elder Bush in 1989 to head the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
He was one of America's foremost Black figures for decades. He was named to senior posts by three Republican presidents and reached the top of the US military as it was regaining its vigor after the trauma of the Vietnam War.
Powell, who was wounded in Vietnam, served as US national security adviser under President Ronald Reagan from 1987 to 1989. As a four-star Army general, he was chairman of the military's Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George HW Bush during the 1991 Gulf War in which US-led forces expelled Iraqi troops from neighboring Kuwait.
A moderate Republican and a pragmatist, Powell considered a bid to become the first Black president in 1996 but his wife Alma's worries about his safety helped him decide otherwise. In 2008, he broke with his party to endorse Democrat Barack Obama, who became the first Black elected to the White House.
Powell will forever be associated with his controversial presentation on 5 February 2003, to the UN Security Council, making President George W Bush's case that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein constituted an imminent danger to the world because of its stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons.
He admitted later that the presentation was rife with inaccuracies and twisted intelligence provided by others in the Bush administration and represented "a blot" that will "always be a part of my record".