SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — People across the country are honoring former Joint Chiefs chairman and Secretary of State General Colin Powell.
The 84-year-old died of complications from COVID-19. He was fully vaccinated, but he had underlying health conditions that affected his immune system.
Congressman Dusty Johnson calls Powell a well-respected military leader and a trailblazer of his time.
“Back in 1998, when I was a student at the University of South Dakota, we had General Powell on campus,” Congressman Dusty Johnson said.
Johnson says he feels honored that he got a chance to meet and know General Powell on somewhat of a personal basis while attending school at USD.
“As part of a small group of student leaders, who were intimately involved with the planning of the event, I just didn’t hang out with him at one event or two events or three events, it was quite a bit of time and it was remarkable to me how people were drawn to Colin Powell, he was in many ways a celebrity like many diplomats and soldiers who don’t want to be celebrities,” Johnson said.
Powell served in Vietnam and rose in the ranks becoming a general and appointed the head of the National Security Council by President Reagan.
He later was appointed Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the first African American to hold that position.
But it was ‘Operation Desert Storm’ in 1991 that made Powell an even more familiar face.
“Our strategy to go after this Army is very very simple. First, we’re going to cut it off and then we’re going to kill it,” Powell said.
Johnson says that’s how a lot of Americans will remember the one-time military leader.
“I also think one of his legacies is how calm, cool, collected he was there are many people who can lose their mind during difficult days that was not Powell when he served as Secretary of State, an Army officer when he was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he always had that wise and calm approach toward problem-solving, our country was incredibly well served by him,” Johnson said.
Powell’s wife also had COVID-19, but responded to treatment with monoclonal antibodies.