Following the reception earlier this month for members of The Citadel Alumni Association's Distinguished Alumni List, we begin a series of posts highlighting those members. We will be adding these every few weeks.
Our first Distinguished Alumnus is Col J. Quincy Collins, Jr., USAF, Ret., '53
Collins entered the Air Force after graduating from The Citadel and accumulated over 3,000 hours with a Command Pilot rating. His Air Force career included opening the new Air Force Academy in 1955 as an Air Training Officer and serving as Aide to the Four Star Commander-in-Chief of U.S. Air Forces in Europe. Collins was awarded the Silver Star for his service in action in Southeast Asia on Sept. 2, 1965, as Air Operations Officer, 6441st Tactical Fighter Wing, and a second award for gallantry as a POW for seven and a half years. He retired as a full Colonel in 1974.
While serving on TDY with the 36th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Takhli Royal Thai AFB, Thailand, on Sept. 2, 1965, Collins was forced to eject over North Vietnam. He suffered severe injuries of the head, leg and arms on ejection. Collins was immediately captured and held as a prisoner of war for the next 2,721 days before being released on Feb. 12, 1973. During his time as a POW, he endured constant torture at the infamous Hoa Lo Prison, a.k.a. Hanoi Hilton, and labeled as "incorrigible" by the North Vietnamese. Collins was the longest held Citadel POW and one of the longest held in American history. His "cellmate" was the late Senator John McCain, the 2008 GOP nominee for President.
To learn more about The Citadel Alumni Association Distinguished Alumni List, visit citadelalumni.org/news-stories/distinguished-alumni.
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