Most Americans thought the Covid-induced craziness would end as we rang in the New Year to 2021, but we were wrong. Now, an entire year has passed following that 2020 “year from hell,” and as much as it pains me to say it, Covid mania is still rampant throughout our nation. However, Covid isn’t the main topic of this article – though it will pop its head in now and again. What I’d like to do in this piece is to honor the brave men and women – some of our National Treasures – that breathed their last in 2021. Whether by illness, accident, tragedy, or old age, here is a list (in no particular order) of some of the famous veterans, leaders, and heroes we lost in 2021.

Still from the interview SEAL Team 6 Founding Officer Dick Marcinko on Joining the Navy | The DEVGRU Files – Episode 1. Photo; SOFREP

1. Richard Marcinko

SOFREP has already done numerous pieces on Marcinko, the founder and first Commander of SEAL Team 6, but his death was definitely one that touched the American Special Operations community. Former SEALs and co-workers of Marcinko paid tribute to him through social media and honored his life and legacy at every chance they had. Marcinko infamously gave his new unit the name “SEAL Team 6” for no other reason than to confuse the enemy regarding how many SEAL Teams there were in existence. Marcinko died on Christmas Day at 81 years of age.

In April 1976, Rumsfeld describes the B-1 bomber he just personally flew. CNN

2. Donald Rumsfeld

Donald Rumsfeld holds the title for being the only person in history to have been the Secretary of Defense on two separate occasions, and he did so with 30 years between service dates. Rumsfeld was best known for his service at the beginning of George W. Bush’s Presidency, though he had already been in public service for decades when he took that post. Rumsfeld served three years as an aviator in the U.S. Navy as a young man. Following that, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1962 and was subsequently reelected three times. As the Secretary of Defense, Rumsfeld established the B-1 bomber, the Trident ballistic missile submarine, and the MX (Peacekeeper) intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) programs. Rumsfeld died on June 29 at 88 years of age.

Gen. Colin Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, points to a group of American troops at an airbase after his arrival in Saudi Arabia on Sept. 13, 1990. Powell served as chairman under both Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
J.Scott Applewhite/A.P.

3. Colin Powell

Colin Powell was a retired Army General and a respected American leader. The son of Jamaican immigrants, Powell grew up in the Harlem and South Bronx sections of New York City and attended the City College of New York. Upon graduation, Powell enlisted into the U.S. Army and served two separate tours in Vietnam (1962–63 and 1968–69). Powell held numerous billets over the following 20+ years before eventually becoming President George H.W. Bush’s chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1989. In 2001, he was appointed Secretary of State by the second President Bush. Powell resigned from political life in 2004. Powell’s family said he died of Covid complications on October 18 at 84 years of age.