The native of the City of Hospitality and graduate of Booneville High School will be honored with a hometown celebration this Saturday from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the historic Booneville Hardware building in honor of his retirement as the state’s top national guard leader.
Organizers are expecting a big crowd to honor the man who worked his way up from a private who enlisted in the National Guard in Booneville to become a highly decorated general who led soldiers on combat duty in Iraq, became the first African American to be promoted to the rank of general in the Mississippi National Guard and went on to become adjutant general for the state of Mississippi.
“It’s just a meet and greet and a chance to say thanks for 35 years of service,” said Gary Walker who is leading the organizing effort for the event.
The celebration will include the presentation of a street sign marking the official renaming of a section of Lake Street from Marietta Street to Martin Luther King Drive in honor of the accomplished general.
Walker said they are expecting officials from throughout the state and region along with those who have served with and under Collins from across the country to join in the celebration.
“We’re anticipating a big crowd,” he said.
Collins is a Booneville High School graduate and a graduate of Northeast Mississippi Community College. He began his career when he enlisted in the Mississippi Army National Guard’s Company B, 1st Battalion, 198th Armor Regiment in Booneville in March 1977. He was commissioned in July 1980 upon completion of Officer Candidate School. He has served in various command and staff positions in units at every level to include Company, Battalion, Regiment, Brigade, and the Adjutant General’s primary staff in both a traditional and Active Guard Reserve status.
In July 1980, he completed Officer Candidate School and served in command and staff positions on the company, battalion, and brigade levels. He also served on the adjutant general’s primary staff as a traditional and active Guard – Reserve Soldier.
Collins served on active duty in Operations Desert Shield and Storm, and commanded the 155th Armored Brigade Combat Team during Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2004-2006. It was the largest mobilization of Mississippi troops since World War II. He was promoted to brigadier general on May 10, 2005 in Iraq, making him the first African American to attain the rank of general officer in the history of the Mississippi National Guard. He was promoted to his present rank following his appointment as adjutant general in 2012.
He retired effective Aug. 31 of this year.