President Biden and first lady Jill Biden on Monday mourned the death of their "dear friend" Gen. Colin Powell, calling him a "patriot of unmatched honor and dignity."
Powell died Monday at 84 from complications related to COVID-19, his family announced. He was fully vaccinated.
Biden remembered Powell in a statement Monday, saying he "worked closely" with him while he was in the Senate, and while Powell served as national security adviser, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and as secretary of state.
"Over our many years working together – even in disagreement – Colin was always someone who gave you his best and treated you with respect," Biden said, adding that Powell "embodied the highest ideals of both warrior and diplomat."
"He was committed to our nation’s strength and security above all," the president said, adding that his military experience gave him the perspective "better than anyone that military might alone was not enough to maintain our peace and prosperity."
"From his front-seat view of history, advising presidents and shaping our nation’s policies, Colin led with his personal commitment to the democratic values that make our country strong," Biden continued. "Time and again, he put country before self, before party, before all else – in uniform and out – and it earned him the universal respect of the American people."
Powell was the first Black secretary of state and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Biden said he "repeatedly" broke "racial barriers" and blazed "a trail for others to follow in Federal Government service."
"Colin was committed throughout his life to investing in the next generation of leadership," Biden said. "Whether through his care for the women and men serving under his command and the diplomats he led, or through the work he shared with his wife Alma at the America’s Promise Alliance to lift up young people, or through his years leading the Eisenhower Fellowships, Colin’s leadership always included a focus on future."
The president then shifted back to his personal relationship with Powell.
"Above all, Colin was my friend," Biden said. "Easy to share a laugh with. A trusted confidant in good and hard times. He could drive his Corvette Stingray like nobody’s business – something I learned firsthand on the race track when I was Vice President."
"And I am forever grateful for his support of my candidacy for president and for our shared battle for the soul of the nation," Biden said. "I will miss being able to call on his wisdom in the future."
In 2020, Powell spoke at the Democratic National Convention, and offered a full endorsement of Joe Biden for president of the United States.
"Today, we are a country divided, and we have a president doing everything in his power to make it that way and keep us that way," Powell said in a pretaped speech for the convention in August 2020. "What a difference it will make to have a president who unites us, who restores our strength and our soul."
Powell had a wife, Alma, and three children, Annemarie, Linda, and Michael.
"Jill and I are sending all our love and strength to Alma, their children, Linda, Annemarie, and Michael, their grandchildren, and the entire Powell family. Our nation mourns with you," Biden said.
He added: "Colin Powell was a good man. He will be remembered as one of our great Americans."