Retired Gen. Colin Powell and his wife, Alma, gaze at the just-unveiled bust, sculpted in Powell’s likeness by artist Eddie Dixon for the Circle of Firsts, during a bust dedication ceremony Sept. 5, 2014, in the Buffalo Soldier Commemorative Area. Powell was the first African-American chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and U.S. secretary of state. He originated the idea for the Buffalo Soldier Monument, which was brought to fruition with the help of retired Navy Cmdr. Carlton Philpot, Buffalo Soldier Monument project director, seen in the background. Powell died Oct. 18, 2021. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

Charlotte Richter | Staff Writer

Retired Gen. Colin Powell, first African-American chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and U.S. secretary of state, talks about how the idea for the Buffalo Soldier Monument came to him and why it was so important to him during his remarks at the unveiling ceremony of a bust in his likeness in the Circle of Firsts in the Buffalo Soldier Commemorative Area Sept. 5, 2014. Powell died Oct. 18, 2021. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

Former Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff retired Gen. Colin
Powell died Oct. 18 at age 84 due to complications with COVID-19, according to a Facebook post by his family.

Powell is recognized for his military and government service as the first African American
U.S. secretary of state as well as the first African American chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, one of the highest military positions in the Department of Defense.

Powell also had a significant connection to Fort Leavenworth, particularly with the
Command in General Staff College. Following his service in Vietnam, Powell attended CGSC in 1967 where he graduated second in his class.

“In terms of Fort Leavenworth, he becomes an example of what every officer that comes
through here aspires to be; in many ways he was the perfect model,” Combined Arms Center Deputy Command Historian Joe Bailey said.

Fourteen years later Powell returned to Fort Leavenworth as the deputy commander of
the Combined Arms Combat Development Activity. Then a one-star general, he was awarded his second star in Grant Auditorium June 19, 1983.

Former Secretary of State retired Gen. Colin Powell takes a question from a Command and General Staff College student following his remarks for the inaugural lecture in the General Colin L. Powell Lecture Series April 29, 2008, in Eisenhower Auditorium at the Lewis and Clark Center. Powell died Oct. 18, 2021. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


According to his biography, “My American Journey,” it was also during his time with
CACDA that he realized the only recognition of the Buffalo Soldiers on Fort Leavenworth
was the 9th and 10th Cavalry Avenue street signs. Powell initiated a project to create a
larger memorial. Between other assignments he sought funding and support until the
Buffalo Soldier Monument could be completed. He dedicated the monument July 28, 1992.

Former Secretary of State retired Gen. Colin Powell addresses Command and General Staff College students during the inaugural lecture in the General Colin L. Powell Lecture Series April 29, 2008, in Eisenhower Auditorium at the Lewis and Clark Center. Powell died Oct. 18, 2021. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

“I believed I had a duty to those black troops who eased my way. Building a memorial to the Buffalo Soldiers became my personal crusade,” Powell said in “My American
Journey.”

The Circle of Firsts in the Buffalo Soldier Commemorative Area also holds remembrance of Powell’s achievements. A bust in honor of Powell’s position as the first African
American to become a four-star general was dedicated on post in 2014, and information
on the base of the bust details his leadership and military service.

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