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Jon Huntsman Jr. remembers his neighbor and friend Colin Powell

Oct 18, 2021, 7:39 PM | Updated: 8:58 pm
Secretary of State...
FILE - In this May 21, 2001, file photo, Secretary of State Colin Powell talks with reporters during a news conference at the Department of State in Washington. Powell, former Joint Chiefs chairman and secretary of state, has died from COVID-19 complications. In an announcement on social media Monday, the family said Powell had been fully vaccinated. He was 84. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

SALT LAKE CITY — Former Utah Governor (and former US Ambassador to Russia, China, and Singapore) Jon Huntsman spoke with Inside Sources host Boyd Matheson on Monday about his friend and neighbor, Colin Powell.  And Huntsman shared surprising insights into the life of Secretary Powell.

The United States and the world lost former Secretary of State Colin Powell on Monday. He died from complications of COVID-19, although his family said he was fully vaccinated. Powell had multiple myeloma, a type of cancer that suppresses the body’s immune response, according to CNN. He was 84.

Huntsman said Powell was a respected trailblazer

Powell was known as a trailblazer — he was the first African-American Secretary of State — and he was respected for his military success and intelligence. 

Former Utah governor (and former ambassador of the United States to Russia, China, and Singapore) Jon Huntsman Jr. spoke with Inside Sources host Powell, from humble beginning to general

From humble beginnings …

“We can all learn something from the story of that humble, poor immigrant who grew up in (the) Bronx and later went on to change the world,” Huntsman said of Powell.

Huntsman said Powell told him that the US Army saved his life. He recalled Powell saying that said the Army “took a C student at best and gave him a chance to succeed.”

“And he went all the way from there to becoming a brigadier general in 1979,” said Huntsman.

… to US military leader

Powell served as the 16th United States National Security Advisor from 1987 to 1989 and as the 12th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1989 to 1993.

“What are one or two things that maybe we’re not thinking about when it comes to Colin Powell?” Boyd asked.

Huntsman replied that Gen. Powell was a big advocate of using overwhelming power against an enemy. Huntsman used as an example the former president of Iraq, Saddam Hussein. In 1990, Hussein invaded Kuwait.

That invasion triggered a US-led coalition against Iraq’s invasion.

At that time, Powell, as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, assembled a strike force of 35 nations. It was the largest military alliance since World War II.

Through Powell’s overwhelming force, the alliance pushed Saddam Hussein’s military out of Kuwait within days and imposed a no-fly zone in Iraq.

Invasion of Iraq, WMD,s and loss of integrity

Before the United Nations Security Council on Feb. 5, 2003, Powell made the case for another military invasion. This time, of Iraq. Powell said Saddam Hussein possessed biological weapons and was working to build a nuclear bomb.

But a year later, Powell’s assertion that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) proved to be false.

“[Powell] was badly hurt by his presentation of flawed intelligence before the United Nations Security Council,” Huntsman said. ” . . . it broke the man in ways that I don’t think he ever recovered from because his integrity was so very, very important to him.”

Two car guys

Huntsman said he could always tell when Powell was at home — he lived down the street — because the garage door was open. He would be in the garage working on an old Volvo, which he said bought to repair.

“He would drive a Corvette, which he loved, down the street and rev it in front of my house. I would do the same thing with a Mustang in front of his house,” Huntsman said.

Last reflections

“Ambassador Huntsman before I let you go any other final thoughts or reflections on this great statesman?” Boyd asked.

“If he were here today, he would say, ‘Never bet against America, never bet against our values, never bet against its ability to take a humble immigrant from very meager circumstances and allow him the opportunity to rise to the very top,'” the former governor said. “I like to say he was the best president we never had.”

Inside Sources with Boyd Matheson can be heard weekdays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app. 

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Jon Huntsman Jr. remembers his neighbor and friend Colin Powell