General Colin L Powell

Colin Luther Powell was born in Harlem in 1937. His parents were Jamaican immigrants who stressed the importance of education and personal achievement. Powell grew up in the South Bronx, where he graduated from high school without having formed any definite ambition or direction in life. He entered the City College of New York to study geology and it was there, by his own account, that he found his calling when he joined the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC). He became commander of his unit's precision drill team and graduated in 1958 at the top of his ROTC class, with the rank of cadet colonel, the highest rank in the corps.

Powell was commissioned a second lieutenant in the United States Army, and was one of the 16,000 military advisors dispatched to South Vietnam by President Kennedy in 1962. In 1963, Lieutenant Powell was wounded by a punji-stick booby trap while patrolling the Vietnamese border with Laos. He was awarded the Purple Heart, and later that year, the Bronze Star.

Powell served a second tour of duty in Vietnam in 1968-69. During this second tour he was injured in a helicopter crash. Despite his own injuries, he managed to rescue his comrades from the burning helicopter and was awarded the Soldier's Medal. In all, he has received 11 military decorations, including the Legion of Merit.

Powell earned an MBA at George Washington University in Washington, DC, and after being promoted to major, won a White House fellowship. Powell was assigned to the Office of Management and Budget during the administration of President Nixon, and here he made a lasting impression on the Director and Deputy Director of the Office: Casper Weinberger and Frank Carlucci. Both of these men were to call on Powell when they served as Secretary of Defense and National Security Advisor, respectively, under President Ronald Reagan.

Reference

Academy of Achievement;  http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/pow0bio-1