Colin Powell paid a quiet visit to the Rochester Veterans Memorial in 2007



Powell was in Rochester to give a talk to employees of the Mayo Clinic which was closed to the public. After the conference, Powell made what was supposed to be a short visit to the Veterans Memorial. Powell was greeted by, among others, Wayne Stillman and Harry Kerr, two of the founding and veteran members of the memorials.

“It was supposed to be a short 15-minute tour,” Kerr said. “And it was just him and the driver. And what I remember is that he was shorter than I thought. He walked out, came over and shook my hand.”

READ ALSO: Southeastern Minnesota Colleges and Universities See Enrollment Drop – Again

It was clear that Powell had researched his Rochester hosts, as he then gave Kerr, a Vietnam veteran with the 7th Marines, a litany of Kerr’s military career. Powell had completed two combat missions in Vietnam in the military.

Kerr told Powell about the memorial and they ended up in front of the Vietnam map on the north side of the memorial.

Highly decorated for his military service, Powell went on to become the country’s first black Joint Chiefs of Staff, White House National Security Advisor, and Secretary of State, but in a way he was “very down to earth. – down to earth, “Kerr said.

At the time of his visit, Powell was no longer in government and was a private citizen.

“We talked about the same ground that we both covered (in Vietnam): two old war dogs talking about where they’ve been,” Kerr said. “He was very cordial, a very nice guy. He lived up to all expectations I had on who he was.”

Powell, who had suffered from blood cancer and Parkinson’s disease, died of complications from COVID at the age of 84 on Monday, October 18.

At some point during the 2007 visit, Powell’s driver began emphatically reminding the former general that they had to go, but Powell continued to postpone the departure. The visit lasted almost an hour, Kerr said.

“I remember the last time the driver said, ‘General, we have to go.’ And he jokingly responds, “This private plane isn’t going anywhere without me on board,” “Kerr recalls.

As he finally prepared to leave, Powell said: “It’s amazing to see a memorial of this magnitude in a city of this size,” Stillman recalled.

Kerr said he recently watched an interview with Powell in which he explained his reasons for not running for president. At one point in his career, Powell was considered a presidential candidate because his popularity was so high. But after a few weeks of thinking he woke up, sat down to breakfast and said to his wife, “I am a soldier, not a politician.

Stillman said Powell’s leaving words at the memorial left an indelible memory. As he was almost physically dragged into the backseat of the car, Powell reached out to Stillman.

“He said, ‘Wayne, if you ever need anything just give me a call,'” Stillman said. “I should have asked him for his business card or something, but I didn’t.” And the car took off.



Comments are closed.