LTC (R) Arnold Collins Jr. is my grandfather on my mother's side. I was blessed to grow up around him and get to know him. He told me a few war stories and gave me some good advice. Using his DD 214 and many other orders and papers I received when he died, I was able to piece together his career in the Armed Forces. It began like so many careers from his generation, but this is his story and like many Americans from the Greatest Generation, it is worth sharing and preserving.
The Military History of Arnold Collins Jr., a veteran of 25 years of military service, 3 April 1943 to 1 January 1968
On 19 September 1924, Arnold Collins Jr. was born to Laura Mae Collins (Nickens) and Arnold Roscoe Collins in Wilder, Tenn. At a young age his parents divorced, and he and his mother would move to Detroit. Laura Collins would marry Edward Burrows and Arnold would grow up in Detroit. He would attend elementary and high school, and would graduate high school in 1943.
On 3 April 1943 Arnold Collins Jr. enlisted in the U.S. Army, right out of high school. He was assigned serial # 36 593 245. He was single and would serve as an enlisted soldier trained in clerical duties. He would attend the Army Air Forces Training School (AAFTS) Clerical Branch, Fort Logan, Colo., 4 August 1943. For reasons unknown, he was listed AWOL 107 from 3 November to 20 November 1943. Like most soldiers of that generation, he would complete training and prepare for movement overseas.
On 14 December 1943, a marriage certificate was registered in Goldsboro, N.C. Pvt. Arnold Collins Jr. and Ms. Kathleen Sullivan were married by Chaplin John W Reaves, Minister, Chapel #3 at Seymour Johnson Field, New Hope, N.C. His mother, Mrs. Edward Burrows, witnessed, as well as Pvt. William Johnson and Mrs. B. Dorshay. He would have very little time as a married man. His services were required overseas.
On 26 December 1943, he left the United States for the European theater of war. Upon arrival in Europe, Pvt. Collins was assigned to the 9th Reinforcement Depot and Ground Force Training Group in England, and then to 492 Replacement Co. 94th Detachment, which was located in Midsomer, England, 5 January 1944. The unit would move to Glastonbury, England 15 April 1944 and after the Normandy landings to Fontainbleau, France, in September 1944. While assigned to the 492 Replacement Co. 94th Detachment, he was promoted to Technician 5th Grade on 10 July 1944. At some point, he left the replacement attachment and was assigned to the 1359th Military Police Company as a Company Clerk or Prison Clerk. During his time overseas, his first child, Doris Jean Collins, was born on 7 August 1944 in Dearborn, Mich. It would be a little over a year before he meet his daughter or see his wife. He entered the AGF Training Center, Officer Candidate School (OCS) Class #2 sometime in 1945, graduated in April 1945, and was honorably discharged as an enlisted soldier on 27 April 1945 while overseas in order to be commissioned the next day.
On 28 April 1945, he would commission as a 2nd lieutenant, United States Army Reserve (USAR), and be assigned to the I Company, 179th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division. According to his WD AGO 53-98 (Form Date: 1 November 1944), His Military Occupational Specialty is listed as Infantry Unit Commander (1542). He would lead a platoon of infantry sdoldiers until their return to the United States. He is credited with the following battles and campaigns: Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland and Central Europe (some of which he participated in while enlisted). His decorations and citations: Expert w/Carbine Cal 30, American Theater Medal, WWII Victory Medal, Europe African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with 4 battle stars, 3 Over Seas Service Bars (each issued for six months in a combat theater) and an Expert Infantrymen’s Badge. He would serve with the 45th Infantry until his return from overseas. He departed Europe on 6 September 1945, arriving in the United States on 11 September 1945. He would then demobilize on 27 November 1945 at Separation Center, Camp Grant, Ill., where he was transferred into the standby reserves as a 2nd lieutenant.
From 28 November 1945 to 18 February 1946, he was in the United States Army Reserve as a commissioned officer, and then he re-enlisted on active duty as an enlisted soldier. This information is from his Statement of Service as of 28 February 1954.
On 19 February 1946, Arnold Collins Jr. re-enlisted and served on active duty as an enlisted soldier as an administrative specialist (502) until 24 February 1949. During this time he was assigned to Squadron F, 146th AAF BU, as chief clerk, Base Classification, Selfridge Field, Mich. On 25 March 1946 he advanced to the rank of master sergeant (E-7), the rank advancement seemed to be backdated to 28 April 1945, his last day as an enlisted soldier prior to commissioning (Information taken from his W.D. AGO Form 58 (Form Date: 25 March 1924). During this time he would also serve as chief clerk, 902 Engineer (AF), Headquarters Command, United States Air Forces in Europe; Administrative Specialist, 7705th Air Returnee Center, EUCOM; Sergeant Major, Detroit Sub-Office, Michigan Military District; and Administrative NCO, Military Police Detachment, 5017th ASU. During this time he served 1 year, 10 months and 21 days in Europe. He completed the “Military Justice Course," Frankfurt, Germany, in 1948. He was authorized the WWII Victory Medal, Good Conduct Medal and Army of Occupation Medal (Germany). The form also states, ”Holds rank of 2nd LT in Officer Reserve Corps (ORC)”. He was separated at AF Separation Point, Westover AFB, Massachusetts. (This information is according to his WO AGO Form 100, dated 24 Feb 1949 (Form date: 1 Jul 1945).
From 25 February 1949 to 3 April 1949, he returned to the OCR for one month and eight days as a commissioned officer, until he re-enlisted again.
On 4 April 1949, he re-enlisted for three years, according to his DD 214, dated 1 December 1950 (Form Date: 1 Jan 50). He re-enlisted and returned to active duty as a master sergeant. He was re-assigned to the 5017 Area Support Unit (ASU), which was at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. He was separated on 1 December 1950, at the “Convenience of the Government to enter on Extended Active Duty (EAD) as a 1LT ORC, IAW AR 615-365." At the time of his separation he had seven years, seven months and 23 days of net service for pay purposes. On 2 December 1950, he was commissioned as a 1LT, ORC, on extended active duty (EAD). He stayed at Fort Leonard Wood, and on 5 December 1950 he was assigned to the Headquarters 25th Armored Engineer Battalion 6th Armor Division as an administration instructor (2726) in the clerk typist school. Six months later he would be in Korea.
On 21 March 1951, 1st Lt. Arnold Collins Jr. completed a 96-hour refresher training at the Special Training Center, Fort Lewis, Wash. I have no further documentation as to what the training was related to.
On 1 May 1951, 1st Lt. Arnold Collins Jr. was assigned as a platoon leader, 1542, in Co E 27th Infantry Regiment. He was now in the Republic of Korea. He would serve as a platoon leader, assistant commanding officer (Asst CO) and commanding officer (C.O.) He would serve with E Company 2/27th Inf as platoon leader, HQ Company 2nd Battalion 27th Infantry as an asst. CO and CO, G Company 2/27th Inf as platoon leader and K Company 2/27th Inf as a platoon leader while in Korea. He would serve one year in Korea, where he would earn the Combat Infantrymen’s Badge, Korean Service Medal w/4 battle stars and the United Nations Service Medal-Korea. The Combat Infantrymen’s Badge was one award he was extremely proud of receiving. He would leave Korea in sometime in late May or early June 1952.
From 16 June 1952 to 28 February 1955, he was stationed at Fort Riley, Kan. While stationed there, he would serve with Headquarters and Headquarters Battery 35th Field Artillery Battalion, Battery A 25th Field Artillery Battalion, the 37th Replacement Company, 10th Replacement Company and Headquarters 10th Mountain Division. He would attend the Supply School and serve as an instructor at the school. He would also serve as an instructor, 2622, w/5A Infantry Training Co, Camp McCoy, Wis., while on temporary duty (TDY), Assistant S-3 HQ Camp McCoy, Company Commander 5A Infantry Training Company, Camp McCoy, and as a Supply Liaison Officer G-4 Section w/the HQ 10th Infantry Div. On 13 October 1953, 1LT Collins completed the Army Physical Training School at Fort Bragg, N.C. Another significant event that occurred at Fort Riley was the birth of Coleen Mary Collins on 8 September 1953.
*Note: As of 28 February 1954, he had 10 years, 5 months and 16 days of Active Federal Service, 3 years, 9 months and 26 days of which were Active Commissioned Service.
On 16 March 1954, while attending the Supply School, 1st Lt. Arnold Collins Jr. was promoted to captain.
From 1 March 1955 to 20 March 1958, Arnold Collins Jr. was stationed in Europe with the 10th Mountain Division; he served as a G-4 Logistical Officer, 4010, Supply & Liaison Officer, Brigade S-4. During this time his third and fourth children were born, Doreen Bernadette Collins on 11 February 1956 and Arleen Cassandra Collins on 3 January 1958. Both were born in Wursburg, GE.
On 3 April 1958 he was awarded an Army Commendation Medal w/Metal Pendant, for meritorious service while serving in the G-4 with the 10th Mountain Division for the period of 1 August 1956 to 20 March 1958.
On 14 June 1958 the 10th Infantry returned to Fort Benning Georgia as part of Operation Gyroscope. Upon arrival the 10th Infantry was de-activated and stood up as the 2nd Infantry Division.
From 14 June 1958 to 20 September 1959, he was assigned to Headquarters 2nd ID. While assigned to the 2nd ID he continued to work in Logistics, 4010, in a supply and liaison capacity. He would also attend and graduated from the Associate Infantry Officer Advanced Course on 19 August 1959, in TDY status at the United States Army Infantry School.
From 21 September 1959 to 21 July 1960, Capt. Collins was assigned to the 1st Battle Group 87th Infantry Division at Fort Benning, Ga. While with the 1st Battle Group, he would serve as commander (1542) of Charlie Company from 21 September 1959 to 25 July 1960. He would then serve as the Asst S-3 Operations Officer (LNO) briefly in the HQ 1st BG 87th Inf.
From 1 Aug 1960 to 19 Dec 1964 he would be reassigned to the Headquarters 2nd Infantry Division at Fort Benning. He would serve as the Asst Division Inspector General, 9310. While at Fort Benning, Capt. Collins would have his fifth and final child. William Arnold Collins was born 10 November 1961 at Martin Army Hospital.
From 20 December 1964 to 30 June 1965, Maj. Collins was assigned to 2nd Battalion 29th Inf 197th Brigade (attached to 2nd Control Command Administration Company Provisional), 9310, Fort Benning. He worked as an Assistant Division IG. During this time the 197th Infantry Brigade was stood up on Kelly Hill, Fort Benning.
On 28 December 1960, while assigned to the 2nd ID, Capt. Collins was promoted to major.
From 1 July 65 to 5 August 1965, Maj. Collins was the Battalion Commander (1542) of the 90th Replacement Battalion at Fort Benning.
On 2 August 1965, Maj. Collins submitted paperwork requesting a branch transfer, from Infantry to Adjutant General (AG) Corps. The request was denied due to him being a senior major on the LTC list, the short period of retain ability, and that he had not been working in the AG Field.
From 6 August 1965 to 2 August 1966, Maj. Collins departed to the Republic of Vietnam with the 90th Replacement Battalion as the Commanding Officer, 1542. On 7 September 1965 he became a Special Service Officer, 5000, until his return to the United States. Maj. Collins was assigned to the Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) - Vietnam as an Advisor with the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN).
On 6 January 1966, Maj. Arnold Collins Jr. was awarded the Army Commendation Medal (First Oak Leaf Cluster) for meritorious service while serving with the IG at Fort Benning, for the period of 1 August 1960 to 30 June 1965.
On 27 April 1966, Maj. Arnold Collins Jr. while assigned to MAAG Vietnam was promoted to lieutenant colonel.
On 1 July 1966, Lt. Col. Arnold Collins Jr. was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for meritorious service while serving in the Republic of Vietnam with MAAG-Vietnam, for the period of August 1965 to July 1966.
From 30 August 1966 to 31 December 1966, he returned to the United States and Fort Benning. He was assigned as an Asst. IG, Chief Inspection Division, IG Section, United States Army Infantry Center.
On 27 January 1967, Lt. Col. Arnold Collins Jr. returned to the Republic of Vietnam. He was assigned to Headquarters, United States Army Republic of Vietnam (USARV). He would serve as an Asst IG. It was during this tour that Collins made the decision to retire from the U.S. Army.
On 1 November 1967, Lt. Col. Arnold Collins Jr. was awarded the Legion of Merit Medal for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service while serving with the IG in the Republic of Vietnam, for the period of February 1967 to November 1967, while assigned as an Inspector General, United States Army Vietnam.
On 15 December 1967, Lt. Col. Arnold Collins Jr. returned to the United States and reported to the Transition Station United States Army Personnel Center, Oakland, Calif.
On 31 December 1967, Lt. Col. Arnold Collins Jr. was processed for retirement, in accordance with Title 10 US Code Section 3911 SPN 77S (Voluntary Retirement) from active federal service, and was assigned to the U.S. AR Control Group (Ret.) U.S. Army Administration Center, St. Louis.
He would serve a total of 25 years in the U.S. Army. Fiftenn of those years would be served in various assignments in the United States, another five years of that overseas, during peacetime in Germany on two separate tours, and a total of four years and seven months of time overseas serving in a combat zone, from World War II (England, France and Germany), Korea and Vietnam (two tours).
His final awards and decorations listed on his DD Form 214 (Form date: 1 Jul 66) are American Theater Medal; Europe African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with 4 battle stars; World War II Victory Medal; Army of Occupation Medal (Germany); 5 Over Seas Bars; Korean Service Medal; Combat Infantryman’s Badge; UN Service Medal; National Defense Service Medal w/Star; Comm Rib w/Met Pend (Good Conduct Medal); Armed Forces Reserve Medal w/Bronze hour glass; Army Commendation Medal w/1 oak leaf cluster, Vietnam Service Medal; Vietnam Campaign Medal w/60 Device; Bronze Star Medal; Legion of Merit.
**(I have noted that his last DD 214, dated 31 December 1967 and earlier discharge papers from World War II and prior to his first official DD 214 issued in 1 December 1950, several items do not carry over, such as the 4 battle stars on the Europe African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal for Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland and Central Europe (Listed on his WD AGO Form 53-98, dated:), 4 battle stars on his Korean Service Medal, which appear on official photos after Korea, the Good Conduct Medal (Which appears on the WD AGO Form 100, Dated 24 Feb 1949 and WD AGO Form 53, dated: 24 February 1949), the Expert Infantrymen’s Badge list on (WD AGO 53-98, Dated 27 November 1945). I attribute this to the fact that upon returning from Vietnam he would not have had all of his previous documentation with him, or he simply did not care because he was retiring and had the items documented on other forms).
On 1 January 1968, Lt. Col. Arnold Collins Jr.’s retirement became effective and put to rest more than 27 years of active federal and U.S. Army Reserve service.
Collins never completed his college degree, but still retired at the rank of lieutenant colonel. He joined the Army right out of high school. It was his desire to complete a degree in business administration, but it was not to be. He attended college at Wayne State University, Detroit; Kansas State College, Manhattan, Kan.; University of Maryland, Europe; University of Georgia, Columbus, Ga.; and American University, Fort Benning, Ga. According to his DD 214, he was awarded 2 Years College Equivalent in 1961 by a Department of the Army evaluation.
Collins would return to Columbus, Ga., where he would live out the remaining years of his life. He would work in sales for various companies, selling everything from office machines to ice. He had several service-connected medical issues which contributed to his early death.
Lt. Col. Arnold Collins Jr. died on 21 December 1989 at 65 in Columbus. He was survived by his wife, five children and numerous grandchildren.