(Reuters) — Colin Powell, the first Black U.S. 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.
Following are reactions from politicians and military leaders:
TOM RIDGE, FORMER PENNSYLVANIA GOVERNOR WHO WAS GEORGE W. BUSH’S HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER
“Colin Powell served with great distinction & honor, a patriot who led our nation’s foreign diplomacy in those difficult days after 9/11. He was a steady and trusted advisor to the President and I was proud to have served with him.”
FORMER JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF CHAIRMAN MARTIN DEMPSEY
“Just learned of the passing of my friend and mentor, Colin Powell. A superb soldier, statesman, and lifelong public servant.”
U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE LLOYD AUSTIN:
“The world lost one of the greatest leaders that we have ever witnessed. Alma lost a great husband, and the family lost a tremendous father and I lost a tremendous personal friend and mentor. He has been my mentor for a number of years. He always made time for me and I could always go to him with tough issues. He always had great counsel…
“First African American chairman of the joint chiefs, first African American secretary of state — a man who was respected around the globe … quite frankly, it is not possible to replace a Colin Powell. We will miss him.”
U.S. SENATOR MITT ROMNEY, ON TWITTER:
“Today, the nation lost a man of undaunted courage and a champion of character. A statesman & 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.”
FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER TONY BLAIR
“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 humor.
“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 with Alma and all his large and loving extended family.”
FORMER PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH IN A STATEMENT
“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. Many presidents relied on General Powell’s counsel and experience.
“He was such a favorite of Presidents that he earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom – twice. He was highly respected at home and abroad. And most important, Colin was a family man and a friend. Laura and I send Alma and their children our sincere condolences as they remember the life of a great man.”
ROBERT CHARLES, WHO SERVED AS ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE UNDER POWELL – FOX NEWS
“This was probably one of the greatest men to live during my lifetime. He was both a good and a great man… He had a great sense of humor. He deeply cared about people … He was a friend to all; he did not take things personally. That was probably one of the ways that he got to the points in life that he got to. He was an incredibly compassionate person. He cared about everyone.”
“He was decent and honest with people. Integrity was always at the forefront… this was a guy who truly walked the walk; he lived the words that he spoke… always optimistic.”
CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST REVEREND AL SHARPTON ON TWITTER
“My condolences to the family of Colin Powell. Though we disagreed on many issues, I always respected him and was proud of his achievements. When he and I ran into each other and conversed, I always left feeling he was a sincere and committed man to what he believed in. RIP”
RETIRED U.S. GENERAL MARK HERTLING – CNN
“He was a terrific soldier, a phenomenal leader.”
U.S. SENATOR OF VIRGINIA MARK WARNER ON TWITTER
“General Powell was a patriot and a public servant. May he rest in peace.”
(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien, Guy Faulconbridge, Susan Heavey, Chris Gallagher, Doina Chiacu; Editing by Alex Richardson, William Maclean)