September 21

September 21, 1989 – General Colin Powell Confirmed As Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

On September 21, 1989, Four Star General Colin Powell was confirmed unanimously by the Senate Armed Forces Committee as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.    A month earlier on August 10, 1989, he was nominated as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff by President H.W. Bush. He was the first African American and the youngest person at age 52 to hold the highest military position in the Department of Defense.  Powell was born on April 5, 1937 in Harlem, New York City.

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General Colin Powell

His parents Luther Theophilus and Maud Arial Powell had immigrated from Jamaica.  Powell grew up in the South Bronx section of New York City.   He received in 1958 a BS degree n geology from the City College of New York  and an Army Commission as a second lieutenant from the ROTC program.  He graduated in 1971 with a MBA from George Washington University after his second tour of Vietnam.

Colin Powell and Norman Schwarzkopf

General Colin Powell and General Norman Schwarzkopf

Powell established an outstanding military career, which included service in Vietnam as a Captain when he was injured by a Punji stake, as a Major during a second tour of Vietnam he survived a helicopter crash and was decorated for bravery for pulling three others from the burning helicopter crash including Major General Charles Martin Gettys, in the 1980’s he became senior military assistant to Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger, in 1987 he became Ronald Reagan’s National Security Adviser, and in August of 1989 he was nominated as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff by President H.W. Bush.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, left, is greeted by former Secretary of State Colin Powell before the start of the 2014 Atlantic Council’s awards ceremony and dinner in Washington, D.C., April 30, 2014 140430-D-NI589-061a

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, left, is greeted by former Secretary of State Colin Powell before the start of the 2014 Atlantic Council’s awards ceremony and dinner in Washington, D.C., April 30, 2014

He continued as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff into the administration of President Bill Clinton until September of 1993.  He later served as the first African American Secretary of State under President George W. Bush from January 20, 2001 until January 26, 2005.

Colin Powell arrives for 2009 Obama inauguration

Colin Powell arrives for 2009 President Obama Inauguration

He was once rumored to be a potential presidential candidate.  He married the former Alma Johnson in 1962, they have three children.