Colin Powell

Colin Powell

Timeline of Colin Powell, a highly respected American military leader and diplomat, serving as the first African American Secretary of State under President George W. Bush. Known for his strategic acumen and calm demeanor, Powell played a significant role in shaping U.S. foreign policy during his tenure in government.


April 05, 1937


October 18, 2021


New York City, United States


American military leader and diplomat


United States Army


City College of New York and George Washington University


05 April 1937

Birth of Colin Powell

Colin Powell was born on April 5, 1937, in Harlem, New York. The son of Jamaican immigrants, Luther and Maud Powell, he was raised in the South Bronx.


30 June 1958

Commissioning as an Army Officer

Colin Powell was commissioned as an Army second lieutenant after graduating from the City College of New York, where he studied geology and joined the Reserve Officers' Training Corps.


01 December 1962

Military Advisor in South Vietnam

In 1962, Powell was one of the 16,000 military advisors dispatched to South Vietnam by President John F. Kennedy. This marked his first tour of duty during the Vietnam War.


01 April 1989

Becoming National Security Advisor

Colin Powell was selected as National Security Advisor by President Ronald Reagan in 1987. He served in the position until the end of Reagan's term in 1989.


01 August 1989

Appointment as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Powell was appointed as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff by President George H. W. Bush on August 1, 1989. He was the first African-American and the youngest person to hold this position.


17 January 1991

Gulf War Leadership

During the Gulf War, which began on January 17, 1991, Powell played a crucial role in planning and managing the United States' military campaign as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.


20 January 2001

Sworn in as Secretary of State

Colin Powell was sworn in as the 65th United States Secretary of State, serving under President George W. Bush. He was the first African American to serve in this role.


05 February 2003

UN Speech on Iraqi WMDs

Colin Powell delivered a speech to the United Nations Security Council, asserting that Iraq had hidden weapons of mass destruction; this presentation was a pivotal moment in the lead-up to the Iraq War.


15 November 2004

Resignation as Secretary of State

After acknowledging the absence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Powell submitted his resignation as Secretary of State, which became effective on January 26, 2005.


18 October 2021

Death of Colin Powell

Colin Powell died from complications of COVID-19 on October 18, 2021, at the age of 84, despite being fully vaccinated, as he was also battling multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer.

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