Personal: Birth date: April 5, 1937
Birth place: Harlem, New York
Birth name: Colin Luther Powell
Parents: Luther Powell, a shipping clerk
Mother: Maud Ariel (McKoy) Powell, a seamstress
Marriage: Alma Vivian (Johnson) Powell (August 25, 1962-present)
Children: Annemarie, Linda and Michael
Education: City College of New York, B.S. in geology,1958; George Washington University, M.B.A.,1971; National War College, 1976
Military service: US Army, 1958-1993, General
Other Facts: Powell grew up in the South Bronx, the son of Jamaican immigrants.
Powell participated in ROTC in college, leading the precision drill team and attaining the top rank offered by the corps, cadet colonel.
Military awards include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Air Medal, Soldier's Medal and two Purple Hearts.
Civilian awards include the President's Citizens Medal, the Congressional Gold Medal, the Secretary of State Distinguished Service Medal, and the Secretary of Energy Distinguished Service Medal as well as receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom twice.
Powell was the youngest man and first African-American to be Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Powell was the first African-American Secretary of State.
Timeline: June 1958 - Is commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in the US Army.
1960s - Serves two tours of duty in South Vietnam.
1963 - Powell is wounded while in Vietnam by a Viet Cong booby trap.
1969 - Powell is wounded again in Vietnam in a helicopter crash. He rescues two other soldiers in the crash.
1972-1973 - As a White House fellow, works for Frank Carlucci, the Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget under Caspar Weinberger.
1976-1977 - Commander of the 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division.
1979 - Executive assistant to Charles Duncan Jr., Secretary of Energy.
1979-1981 - Senior military assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Defense.
1981-1983 - Assistant division commander of the 4th Infantry Division in Ft. Carson, Colorado.
1983-1986 - Senior military assistant to Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger.
1986-1987 - Is assigned to US Fifth Corps in Frankfurt, Germany.
November 1987-January 1989 - National Security Adviser to President Ronald Reagan.
1989-1994 - Commander-in-chief of the Forces Command at Ft. McPherson, Georgia.
October 1, 1989-September 30, 1993 - Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the youngest and first African-American to hold that position.
1991 - Oversees Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
1993 - Retires from the Army a four-star general.
1993 - Is named honorary Knight Commander Most Honorable Order of the Bath by Queen Elizabeth II.
1995 - Publishes his memoir, "My American Journey," with Joseph E. Persico.
1997 - Starts "America's Promise Alliance" to promote volunteerism and improve the lives of children.
1997 - The Colin Powell Center for Policy Studies (which has since merged with the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership) is established at the City College of New York.
July 30, 2000 - Gives the keynote address at the Republican National Convention in support of George W. Bush.
January 20, 2001- Is appointed and unanimously confirmed as Secretary of State.
January 26, 2001 - Is sworn in as the 65th Secretary of State of the United States, the first African-American to hold that position.
December 15, 2003 - Undergoes surgery for prostate cancer at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He was diagnosed with the disease in late summer 2003.
November 15, 2004 - The White House announces President Bush has accepted Powell's letter of resignation dated November 12. Letter states he will remain in office until his successor is confirmed.
January 26, 2005 - Resignation becomes effective with the confirmation of Condoleezza Rice.
2005 - Joins the California venture capital firm of Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers as a "strategic limited partner."
March 2006 - The National War College Foundation establishes the Colin Powell Chair for National Security, Leadership, Character and Ethics.
January 20, 2009 - Is one of the honorary co-chairs of President Barack Obama's inauguration. Powell endorsed Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign.
February 3, 2010 - Powell reverses his stance on gays and lesbians in the military; his opposition to homosexuals in the military helped lead to the original "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy of the 1990s.
2012 - Publishes a second memoir, "It Worked For Me: In Life and Leadership," with Tony Koltz.