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Timeline of Colin Powell

Prabhakar Pillai May 13, 2019
Colin Powell was an important military officer and civilian leader of the United States. In this timeline we take a look at his life.
Colin Powell has had a prolific career that has spanned 30 years of military service and later civilian service. During his tenure in the army, he rose to the higher posts quickly, instead of a leader of the combat forces, he was known as a "political General" because of his affiliations with the civilian office since the early stages of his military career.
He has served as a aide and a adviser since the time he was a Captain in the army, and this experience helped him serve as a civilian officer with efficiency post-retirement.
Mr. Powell was the first African-American to be appointed as the secretary of state, and the first and only African American to be appointed to serve on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
He has also served as the National Security Advisor and as a commander to the United States Army Forces Command. He is known for his leadership skills and his wide influence on political figures.
He is also one of the very few high-ranking people who was liked by both the Republicans and the Democrats. As you read more about his life, his achievements are very big and his life is very eventful, but we try to compress them and present it in the timeline here.


1937: Born in New York City on April 5. His parents emigrated from Jamaica to the US. He was raised in the South Bronx, and attended Morris High School.

Graduated from Morris High School.

1958: Graduated from City College of New York with a bachelor's degree in geology. Commissioned in the Army as Second Lieutenant.
1962: Marries Alma Johnson. Dispatched to South Vietnam as a military advisor.

Wounded in Vietnam by a booby trap. Awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star. His son Michael is born.

Enrolled in Command and General Staff College.

His daughter Linda is born.
1968-1970: Returns to Vietnam as executive officer, and later the assistant chief of staff for operations for the American Division with the rank of Major. Injured in a Helicopter crash, and is awarded the Soldier's Medal.

1970: Promoted to Lieutenant Colonel.

Awarded an MBA from George Washington University. His second daughter Annemarie is born.
1976: Promoted to the rank of Colonel.

1979: Promoted to Brigadier General.

Promoted to Major General. Becomes senior military assistant to the secretary of defense.

Serves as the commander of the Fifth Corps in Frankfurt, Germany. Promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General.
1987: Becomes Ronald Reagan's National Security Advisor.

1989: Becomes the 12th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest military position.

1991: Oversees Operation Desert Storm in which the Iraqi Army was removed from Kuwait.

1994: Joins former President Carter and Senator Sam Nunn in a peace expedition to Haiti.
1995: Registers himself as a Republican.

1996: Gives a speech to the Republican National Convention.

Founded America's Promise, an organization whose goal is to help children from all socioeconomic sectors.

Campaigns for Texas Governor George W Bush for the Presidential election.
2001: Sworn in as the 65th US Secretary of State. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, rallies America's allies for military action in Afghanistan.

2002: Awarded the Liberty Medal.

2003: Addresses a plenary session of the United Nations Security Council to argue for military action in Iraq. Undergoes surgery for prostate cancer,
2004: Declares that Iraq might not have weapons of mass destruction before the war. Calls the killings in Sudan's Darfur region as genocide. During a visit to China he said that Taiwan was not an independent country and would have to ultimately reunite with China. Resigns on Nov 12 as US Secretary of State.

Criticizes the handling of Hurricane Katrina.
2006: Participates in a meeting of former Secretaries of State and Defense to discuss foreign policy with the Bush administration. He is also awarded with the Harry Truman Peace Prize.

2007: Declares that he attempted to persuade George W Bush not to invade Iraq.
2008: His name is mentioned as a possible running mate of Republican Presidential nominee John McCain, but supports Obama in his run for President.

Criticizes Obama administration for not focusing on jobs and economy.

Supports Obama and calls him a "Transformational figure"
2012: Expresses support for making same-sex marriage legal in the country. Also offers support to repeal the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy of the United States Military, where personnel were discharged from duty if they were found to be homosexuals.
An elementary school in New Jersey is named after him.
2013: Faced questions on his alleged affair with a romanian diplomat when his hacked AOL email account was made public. He expressed that the contents of the account were very intimate and private to him and appealed for privacy from the public.
2014: Colin Powell has joined the board of directors of Salesforce.com. Also, in 2014, Colin Powell has joined a newly formed board at High Point University(HPU), the National Board of Advisors.
2016: Colin Powell receives three electoral votes for president from faithless electors in Washington state. After Barack Obama, he was the only second black person to receive electoral votes in presidential election.
Colin Powell is an inspiration to not just the African-Americans, but everyone. He demonstrates through his life that if a person has found work that he loves, and if he pursues it with dedication and hard work, success and recognition will surely follow.