Our veterans who served our country: Michael Collins

Published 9:21 pm Thursday, February 26, 2015

 Michael Collins and his family moved to the area in 1960 when his father, Dave Collins, was transferred to Tryon as the line supervisor for Duke Power Company. The family lived on Lake Lanier and he began attending Tryon High School as a freshman. His father, Dave Collins, and his mother, Audrey, served in the military during World War II. His younger brother Ronnie, enlisted in the Navy in 1967. Collins attended Newberry College, where he played football all four years and earned his BA in chemistry with a minor in math. He was employed with Deering-Milliken before he was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1969.

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“After completing basic training at Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, N.C., I went to Advanced Infantry Training (AIT) at Fort McClellan in Aniston, Ala. I was supposed to go to Viet Nam but they sent me to engineering Officer Candidate School (OCS) at Fort Belvoir in Virginia. I graduated in May 1970 near the top of my class as a second lieutenant and was given my choice of Military Occupational Specialty (MOS). I chose the military police branch and, in June 1970, was stationed at Fort Gordon in Augusta, Ga. and assigned to the military police training group.


“In June 1970, I married Ethel Purvis who I had met while both of us were attending Newberry College. During my year at Fort Gordon, after six months I was promoted to commanding officer of the Leadership Training Company before being promoted to first lieutenant and shipped to Viet Nam in June 1971.”


“In Viet Nam, I was stationed with A Company, 504th Military Police Brigade in Phu Bai where I was assigned as the operations officer and liaison officer to Hue, Vietnam. My area of responsibility stretched from the DMZ to the Hai Van Pass. During that time, I was involved in provost marshal investigations, coordinated transportation and convoy routes, convoy protection, and traffic accident investigations as well as provided military police escorts.”


“Returning home after I completed my tour of duty in Viet Nam in 1972, I volunteered to join an Army Reserve unit in Rutherfordton, N.C. While in the reserve unit, I traveled on a competing marksmanship team until I was released with an honorable discharge in 1974.”


“During my early years, I learned that I could accomplish whatever I set my mind to do. The people skills and work ethics that were re-enforced during my military service have helped me throughout my business career as well as my activities in community organizations.”


As a civilian, Collins worked at Milliken Chemical – Dewey Plant in Inman, S.C. in the manufacturing department as a supervisor, department manager, and production superintendent. In 1985, he transferred to the Environmental Department as the manager, and retired from Milliken & Company in 2009, after 41 years.

Still actively involved as a veteran, Collins has been a member of the local American Legion Post #250 since 1995 and was elected as its commander in 2004, serving 11 continuous years in that capacity. As a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post #9116, he has served as its first vice commander since 2014.


Currently the secretary of the Landrum Masonic Lodge #278 in Landrum, S.C. he has been a five-time past master and was the district deputy grand master of 20th Masonic District from 2007 – 2009. He has also been a member of the Polk County Memorial Veterans Honor Guard for several years. The Collins’ have two children, David and Jennifer, and three granddaughters.


If you are a veteran and would you like to share about your experience in the US military, please contact Robin Edgar at 2robinedgar@gmail.com or call The Tryon Daily Bulletin at 828-859-9151.