The former president also praised his first secretary of state as a "family man and a friend" in a statement offering condolences to the Powell family

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Former President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush are expressing their condolences to the family of Colin Powell, who died at 84 of complications from COVID-19 on Monday.

"Laura and I are deeply saddened by the death of Colin Powell," Bush, 75, said in a statement on Monday. "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 National Security Adviser under President Reagan, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Under my father and President Clinton, and Secretary of State during my Administration."

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Powell became the U.S.' first Black Secretary of State after a unanimous confirmation in the Senate in 2001. He served in Bush's cabinet from 2001 to 2005, before he resigned and was replaced by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Before serving in Bush's White House, Powell was the 12th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, making him the first African American to serve as the nation's highest-ranking military official.

GEORGE W. BUSH AND COLIN POWELL
Colin Powell (left), George W. Bush
| Credit: Robert Daemmrich Photography Inc/Sygma via Getty Images

He is survived by his wife, Alma Johnson Powell, and their three children, as well as grandchildren.

"He was such a favorite of Presidents that he earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom — twice," Bush continued in his statement. "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."

George W. Bush, colin powell
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Rep. Liz Cheney shared a statement from her father, Bush's Vice President Dick Cheney, on Twitter Monday.

"I'm deeply saddened to learn that America has lost a leader and statesman. General Powell had a remarkably distinguished career, and I was fortunate to work with him. He was a man who loved his country and served her long and well," the former vice president, 80, said.

"Working with him during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, I saw first-hand General Powell's dedication to the United States and his commitment to the brave and selfless men and women who serve our country in uniform. Colin was a trailblazer and role model for so many: the son of immigrants who rose to become National Security Advisor, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and Secretary of State," the statement continues.

"Lynne and I extend our prayers and profound condolences to his wife, Alma, and to their children. His legacy and unparalleled record of service will never be forgotten."

Colin L. Powell
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Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters Monday that he will miss Powell and acknowledged his pioneering leadership as the first African American to serve in the highest-ranking positions in the U.S. military and diplomacy.

"The world lost one of the greatest leaders we have ever witnessed. Alma lost a great husband and the family — they lost a tremendous father. I lost a tremendous personal friend and mentor. He's been my mentor for a number of years," he said. "He always made time for me. I could always go to him with tough issues. He would always have great counsel. I feel as if I have a hole in my heart," he said.

Following the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, Powell said he no longer considered himself a Republican. He also acknowledged voting for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and for President Joe Biden in 2020. "I'm just a citizen who has voted Republican, voted Democrat throughout my entire career. And right now I'm just watching my country and not concerned with parties," Powell said in January.

Republican Sen. Mitt Romney joined the former President Bush in offering his condolences to Powell's family.

"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," Romney wrote on Twitter. "Ann & I offer our love & sincere condolences to Alma and his family."