Colin Luther Powell was born in New York on April 5, 1937. His mother and father were immigrants from Jamaica. They wisely instilled in young Colin how rewarding a solid education and achievement in life is. Still, Colin grew up and graduated from high school without any concrete plans for his life. So, he began to study geology at the City College in New York.
Fortunately, Colin then made another move that would positively impact his life. He signed up with the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC). Colin excelled in the ROTC and he quickly was promoted to be the commander of his drill team. He graduated in 1958 with the rank of Cadet Colonel, which is the top rank in the corps. Powell also graduated with honors from the City College and earned a Bachelors of Science Degree.
Colin Powell then held the rank of a commissioned officer in the United States Army. He was deployed on two occasions, from 1962 to 1963, and from 1968 to 1969, respectively, while the
Vietnam War raged on. On his first tour of duty, Powell was commissioned a second lieutenant and was sent to South Vietnam to serve as a military advisor by the president. Powell was wounded while on patrol, and he received the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star for his heroism.
During his second tour of duty, Second Lieutenant Powell again received war injuries, this time when a helicopter crashed. He heroically managed to save the other passengers and received the Soldier’s Medal for his efforts.
On top of his Bachelors of Science Degree, Powell earned a Masters Degree from the George Washington University in Washington, in 1969. He was then promoted to an Army Major and he won a fellowship at the White House.
At the White House in the 1970’s, Major Powell’s military expertise allowed him to be assigned to many positions. He worked in the Office of Management and Budget. He also was assigned duties as a military commander. At the end of that decade, Powell was promoted to Major General. He was also the military assistant to the deputy secretary of defense until 1981. At that time, Powell became the commander of the Fourth Infantry Division.
Two years later, Powell would be reassigned as the military assistant to the secretary of defense.
And, in 1986, he left the White House to perform the duties as the commander of the Fifth Corps in Germany. The following year, Major General Powell became the assistant to the president for national security affairs.
Major General Powell was promoted to the rank of four-star general in 1989. With his promotion, also came the honor of becoming the first Afro-American to ever attain that rank.
He was also the youngest person to ever have chaired the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1989 to 1993. And, the first Afro-American, as well.
It was in that year, 1993, that Powell retired from active military duty.
In 2001, General (retired) Colin L. Powell was appointed the secretary of state by President George W. Bush. He served in that position until 2005.
Colin L. Powell has been awarded and been decorated many times during and after his
thirty-five year military career. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He received an honorary knighthood from the Queen of England. He was also inducted into the Ranger Hall of Fame. And, the list goes on and on.