Fayette, Coweta say goodbye to fallen warrior, Lt. Collins

Army 1st Lt. Robert Collins of Tyrone was laid to rest Saturday as friends continued to share stories of his sense of humor that carried with him from his high school days into his role as a leader of men.

An Army spokesperson noted that Collins, who died April 7 in an explosion near Mosul in northern Iraq, “had the kind of inner strength and moral fiber that led him to do the right thing, every time, even when under enemy fire.”

“His team saw him as a very positive leader bursting with life and a perpetual smile on his face,” the spokesperson said. “His friend Lt. Parsons says: ‘Lt. Collins reminded me daily that while we are in a dangerous profession with serious consequences, that life with all its complexities is a much easier beast to tame with a little laughter and good will.”

He often left his classmates at Sandy Creek High School in stitches, going by the nickname “Sweaty” because he wore a sweatband in school all day at times.

In Collins’ honor, several classmates at Saturday’s funeral wore sweatbands themselves, a sight that surely would’ve brought a wide smile to his face.

A 2004 graduate of Sandy Creek, Collins was known for keeping the mood light, and a host of photographs from his high school days are testament to that fact. In many of the pictures, he is seen cutting a joyful rug.

Classmates said Collins, an Army platoon leader, always wanted to attend West Point Military Academy, where he graduated in 2008.

Stationed in Tall Abdah, the main mission of Collins’ unit was combat patrols in what the army called “unfriendly territory” in western Iraq.

At Saturday’s service at New Hope Baptist Church, representatives of the Army presented Lt. Collins’ mother, Sharon, and his longtime girlfriend Nicole Williams with the Gold Star reserved for family members of those killed in the line of duty with U.S. Armed Forces.

It was also announced that Lt. Collins was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and also the Bronze Star for his actions in combat.

Also killed in the April 7 blast was Specialist William Anthony Blount; five others survived the blast, a fact attributed to Collins’ leadership.

“He always made sure his platoon was doing the right thing, and that is very evident that everyone else in the vehicle survived,” said company commander Capt. Thomas Carroll. “They were wearing all of their protective equipment, all seat-belted in.”

Carroll also said Collins was “incredibly disciplined, unselfish and always thought of the well-being of others.”

“He was always doing the right thing and making sure his peers were doing the right thing. In short, he was the model soldier,” Carroll said.

Lt. Collins was assigned to Company B, 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division based in Fort Stewart, Ga.

A memorial scholarship has been established in Collins’ memory. Donations may be made to the 1LT Robert Wilson Collins Patriot Spirit Scholarship, c/o Bank of Georgia, 100 Westpark Drive, Peachtree City, Ga., 30269.