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Colin Powell shares inspiring story of driver who helped with flat tire: 'What this country is all about'

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell took to Facebook to thank a man who pulled over to help him fix a flat tire. "Let's just take care of each other," Powell urged.
/ Source: TODAY

Even four-star generals can use some roadside help now and then.

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell shared an inspiring message about getting help from a military veteran after he blew out a tire on his way to a doctor's appointment on Wednesday.

Powell, 81, said he was on his way to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland for an appointment when he got a flat tire on I-495, Washington, D.C.'s beltway.

The former Army general and self-described "car guy" said he was having trouble changing the tire — "it was cold outside and the lug bolts were very tight" — when a man with a prosthetic leg pulled over to help.

Powell recounted the moment in a grateful Facebook post on Thursday.

"As the man got out of his car I could see that he had an artificial leg,'' Powell wrote. "He said he recognized me and wanted to help me. We chatted and I learned that he lost his leg in Afghanistan when he worked over there as a civilian employee. He grabbed the lug wrench and finished the job as I put the tools away. Then we both hurriedly headed off to appointments at Walter Reed."

Powell also recounted the heartfelt message the man, Anthony Maggert, 42, sent him on Wednesday night.

Maggert told TODAY he retired from the military in June 2018 after 23 years in which he served in the Marines, Air Force and Army. He is now studying to become a chef.

"Gen. Powell, I hope I never forget today because I’ll never forget reading your books,'' Maggert wrote to Powell. "You were always an inspiration, a leader and statesman. After 33 years in the military you were the giant whose shoulders we stood upon to carry the torch to light the way and now it is tomorrow’s generation that must do the same."

Maggert had already pulled over to the side of the road when he realized the person he was helping was Powell.

"He's got an iconic face, so I said to myself, 'That's Colin Powell,''' Maggert told TODAY. "He was kind of shocked. He said, 'Why are you helping me?' I said, 'You can wait around for a two-legged guy, but right now you got a one-legged guy.'''

It just so happens that Maggert is also a huge admirer of Powell.

"I've read everything I could ever find written about him,'' Maggert said. "He's just an epic leader. Sometimes you say to yourself if I could strive to be a great person, I would be like Colin Powell."

Maggert, who lives in Stafford, Virginia, was on his way to Walter Reed to check out some new prosthetic legs when he stopped to help.

He contracted flesh-eating bacteria in 2011 while in Afghanistan as a contracting officer in the U.S. Army and ultimately had his leg amputated in 2015.

Powell saw Maggert's small act of kindness as one the whole country can learn from.

"Thanks, Anthony,'' Powell continued. "You touched my soul and reminded me about what this country is all about and why it is so great. Let's stop screaming at each other. Let's just take care of each other. You made my day."

Maggert also wrote about the encounter and posted some photos.

"In the end, this lets you know we're all just people, and sometimes you need help," Maggert said. "I pulled over because I thought somebody needed help. I would've done that for anybody."

"I see this kind of thoughtfulness and kindness every day,'' Powell said in a statement to TODAY.

"We are still a good people, but we can do better. Teach our children, tell our politicians, media and celebrities that we are fed up with coarseness, belittling each other and forgetting that not one of us is really superior to anyone else. One of my guiding principles is 'Always show more kindness than seems necessary because the person you give it to needs it more than you may ever know.'"