James Lawton Collins, Jr.
Brigadier General, United States Army
a contemporary press report:
James Lawton Collins Jr., 84, an Army Brigadier General and military historian who directed the Army's military history program for 12 years before retiring in 1982, died of a pulmonary embolism May 6, 2002, at his country home in Middleburg, Virginia. He also lived in Washington, D.C.
During a 42-year military career, General Collins
led a World War II artillery battalion of North Dakota National Guardsmen
ashore at Utah Beach during the 1944 D-Day invasion of Normandy. He served
in Vietnam during the war there and in Korea. A linguist who was fluent
in French, Italian, German and Spanish, he was a former commanding officer
of the Army language school at Monterey, California, and from 1959 to 1962
was the first director of a coordinated Defense Language Institute in
As a military historian, he wrote studies and articles on the Vietnam War and was an editor of World War II histories, including the "D-Day Encyclopedia," which he co-edited with David G. Chandler of Britain's Royal Military Academy. This work contains articles by more than 100 military historians, and personal battlefield accounts ranging from General Collins's experience leading his men ashore in France on June 6, 1944, to Manfred Rommel's description of his father, German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, who tried to anticipate and repel the Allied invasion.
Upon his retirement from the Army in 1982, General Collins embarked on a second career as a member of a Virginia wine cooperative and a grower of vinifera grapes at his Middleburg home. In the course of his Army career, he had acquired a taste for German white wines, and having completed his military service he decided to try his hand at creating an American version of the product.
On two acres, General Collins grew and harvested as much as two tons of grapes a year, spending hours in the field, where he tied and trimmed vines and waged a never-ending war against blight and mold. During the first or second week in October, he had an annual harvest party, where old Army pals, classmates from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, relatives, friends and neighbors would gather to pick grapes, which then were trucked to the Dominion Cellars Winery in Culpeper or Zulla Vineyards in Middleburg to be crushed and made into wine, along with grapes grown by other members of the cooperative.
General Collins was born in El Paso into a family steeped in Army tradition. His father, Major General James Lawton Collins, was an aide de camp to General John J. Pershing, who commanded the American Expeditionary Forces during World War I. Pershing was godfather to the future General Collins.
His uncle was General Joseph Lawton "Lightning Joe" Collins, who would become Army chief of staff during the Korean War. During World War II, James Collins Jr. would serve under his uncle with VII Corps in France.
Astronaut Michael Collins, who as an Air Force Colonel would participate in the Gemini X and Apollo XI space flights, was the younger brother of James Collins Jr.
Growing up, the younger James Collins would accompany his family to military posts around the world, and in the process acquired skills in several languages. He was a member of the Class of 1939 at West Point.
Early in his Army career at Camp Gruber, Oklahoma, he was assigned to command a unit of the North Dakota National Guard, which had been federalized to fight in World War II. These were the men he would lead on D-Day as the 957th Field Artillery Battalion, and the bonds forged in the heat of battle would remain for the rest of his life. More than 50 years after the war, General Collins still was making periodic trips to North Dakota to attend reunions with his old comrades-in-arms.
His later Army career included service at NATO
headquarters in Europe,
General Collins officially retired in 1969
but was recalled to active duty in 1970 as chief of military history for
the Army. His work included dozens of lectures, articles and longer pieces,
including a history of the development and training of the South Vietnamese
Army, and service on several historical boards and commissions. He was
a former president of the U.S. Commission on Military History and the Council
on America's Military Past, and a member of the International Commission
Survivors include his wife of 59 years, Yolande de Mauduit Collins of Middleburg and Washington; four children, Corinne Collins of Ojai, California, Sharon C. Park of Arlington, James Lawton Collins III of Sacramento, California, and Suzanne C. Munson of Arlington; his brother, Retired Air Force Brigadier General Michael Collins of Marco Island, Fla.; two sisters, Virginia Weart of Atlantic Beach, Florida, and Agnes Spera of Washington; and seven grandchildren.
Photo Courtesy of Russell C. Jacobs
COLLINS, JAMES L
On Sunday, May 5, 2002 at his country property
in Middleburg, VA of a plumonary embolism at age 84. Husband of Yolande
Collins; father of Corinne Collins, Sharon C. Park, James L. Collins, III
and Suzanne C. Munson; grandfather of seven. He is also survived by his
sisters, Virgnia Weart and Agnes Spera; and his brother, Michael Collins.
Funeral services will be at the Arlington National Cemetery on Thursday,
June 20, 200 at the Old Post Chapel at 11 a.m. followed by internment of
ashes at the graveside. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to
the military retirement home, Knollwood, 6200 Oregon Ave, NW, Washington,