Patrick Gerald Collins – Colonel, United States Marine Corps

Colonel Patrick Gerald Collins, who as a retired Marine Officer advised the service and other organizations about the tactics, training needs and battlefield doctrine of tomorrow died July 17, 1997 in Fairfax, Virginia, at the home of one of his daughters. He was 64 and lived in Hampton, New Hampshire, near Portsmouth.

The cause was a heart attack, his family said.

Colonel Collins fought in two wars – in Korea, as a forward artillery observer, and, after being commissioned, in Vietnam. His decorations included the Silver Star, five Bronze Stars and three Purple Hearts.

He retired from active duty in 1989 and at his death was a training and operations consultant at the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory in Quantico, Virginia. He also advised organizations including the Institute for Defense Analysis, the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the United States Department of Justice.

The Marines valued him for his advise on the service's probable battlefield role in future conflicts. When he died he was praised by General Charles Krulak, Commandant of the Marine Corps, as “perhaps our finest small-unit tactics instructor.”

Colonel Collins was born in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, and enlisted in the Marines at age 18. He was commissioned in 1958, after his combat service in Korea, and served three tours of duty in Vietnam, first leading reconnaissance and infantry platoons and companies, then serving as a battalion executive officer and a battalion commander.

He also served in Europe, headed a special training group at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and was on the general staff at Marine Corps Headquarters. He graduated from the Army Ranger School and the Navy Diving School before distinguishing himself instructing combat units. He served as a special assistant to three Marine Corps Commandants and was credited with helping to shape the service's special operations objectives in the 1980's.

While in the service, Colonel Collins also became a regular college student. He graduated inbusiness administration from Bowling Green State University in Ohio and received master's degrees from Catholic University in Washington and in administration from Chapman College in Orange, California.

He is survived by his wife of 35 years, Mary Fallon Collins; their son, Michael; three daughters and four grandchildren.

25 July 1997
By Marine Corps Warfighting Lab Staff, Quantico, Virginia

FAIRFAX, Virginia – Retired Marine Corps Colonel Patrick G. “Paddy” Collins, 64, whose daring and intellect made him a legend within the Corps, died July 15 in Fairfax, Virginia, of a heart attack. Collins was known throughout the Marine Corps for his physical courage, honesty, and intellectual integrity.

Funeral services were held at the Old Post Chapel aboard Fort Myer, Virginia. Burial, with full military honors, followed at Arlington National Cemetery.

Collins' innovative ideas, shaped by extensive combat experience and an imaginative, insightful mind, became the cornerstone of many of the Corps' modern training programs. A highly-decorated veteran, he served three tours in Vietnam and was the recipient of a Silver Star for gallantry, five Bronze Stars for valor, and three Purple Hearts. He was a special assistant to three commandants, and a driving force in the development of special operations capabilities within the Corps in the 1980's.

“Perhaps our finest small unit tactics instructor, Paddy never forgot that the soul of the Corps is the individual Marine and he never let anyone else forget it, either,” said General Charles C. Krulak, Commandant of the Marine Corps. “A brilliant trainer, mentor, and a man without pretense, he had one ambition — to make better Marines. He was successful in this life-long project and his contributions helped create a better Corps.”

Upon retirement in 1989, Collins worked as a consultant with a number of groups. Among these were the Institute of Defense Analysis, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and the U.S. Attorney General's office.

He was also active in youth programs, working with the District of Columbia, the Youth Services of America, and the Secretary of the Navy's Junior Leaders' Program.

In 1993, Collins traveled to Ireland to participate in post-graduate studies. Concentrating on war studies and Irish History, Collins attended both St. Patrick's College in Maynooth, Ireland, and the University of London. During this time, he also served as the staff director for a member of the Irish Parliament.

Returning to the United States in 1995, Collins went to work for the Marine Corps again, designing a training process to improve unit stability and cohesion. At the time of his death, Collins was a training consultant and operations adviser to the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia.

Collins was born in Grosse Isle, Michigan, in 1933. Enlisting in the Marine Corps at the age of 18, he saw action in Korea as an artillery forward observer and reached the rank of corporal before being commissioned as an officer in 1958.

During his 37 years of service, Collins held numerous posts and attended many of the most demanding courses offered by the U.S. military, graduating with honors from both the U.S. Army Ranger School and the U.S. Navy Diving School. He served as an infantry and reconnaissance platoon commander, infantry and reconnaissance company commander, and as an infantry battalion commander three times.

Collins also served on joint duty in Europe, as the officer-in-charge of the Special Operations Training Group at MCB Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and on the General Staff at Headquarters Marine Corps, Washington, during his four decades of service.

Survivors include his wife of 35 years, Mary Fallon Collins of Hampton, New Hampshire, three daughters: Rose Sullivan and Moira Collins of Hampton, New Hampshire, and Kara Collins of Fairfax; one son, Michael Collins, also of Hampton, New Hampshire. He is also survived by four grandchildren. In lieu of flowers, donations should be made to Disabled American Veterans, VA Regional Office, Rm. 1117, 1120 Vermont Avenue, Washington, D.C. 20421.


  • DATE OF BIRTH: 03/29/1933
  • DATE OF DEATH: 07/15/1997


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