- The Washington Times - Monday, May 13, 2002

Brig. Gen. James Lawton Collins Jr., a veteran of the 1944 invasion of Normandy at Utah Beach who also helped liberate a Nazi death camp in Germany, died May 5 of a pulmonary embolism at his Middleburg, Va., country residence. He was 84.
An El Paso, Texas, native who kept a home in the District since 1962, Gen. Collins was graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1939 and received a master's degree in foreign affairs from the University of Virginia in 1951.
A descendant of a distinguished military family, he served in the Army for about 42 years. He retired in 1969, returned to duty a year later and retired for the second time in 1982.
"He was a very engaging person," said Yolande de Mauduit Collins, his wife of almost 60 years. "He had a good sense of humor. He was an interesting person."
Gen. Collins was commissioned as second lieutenant in the Army in 1939, and he climbed through the ranks to brigadier general in 1965.
Less than one week after D-Day, he participated in the invasion at Utah Beach, according to Sharon C. Park, one of his daughters, who lives in Arlington.
"He was such a great guy," Mrs. Park said. "He had amazing integrity, and he was very funny. He had a great sense of humor. He was just so highly respected by everyone that worked with him."
He served in World War II as a field artillery officer and as a battalion commander, and in April 1945 he led the 104th Infantry's liberation of a concentration camp in Nordhausen, Germany.
He enrolled in 1949 at the University of Virginia to pursue a master's degree, where he met fellow master's student Thomas J. Camp, with whom he maintained a strong friendship for more than 50 years.
"I admired him. He was straightforward and a gentleman," said Gen. Camp, 84, a D.C. resident. "I'm the godfather of his son, and he was the godfather of one of mine. Our wives liked each other, and we enjoyed doing things together all four of us."
From 1970 to 1982, Gen. Collins worked in the District as the chief of military history for the U.S. Army.
His responsibilities included writing the official history of the country's military, which involved looking closely at events early in the Revolutionary War, World War II and the Vietnam War, Mrs. Park said.
He also attended international meetings with Russian and German military historians, she said.
As the military history chief, he oversaw a staff that included Col. Paul Palmer, who served as the deputy chief of military history from 1975 to 1980.
"He was a very interesting person," said Col. Palmer, 74, of Annandale. "He came from a very old, well-known Army family, and so he was very interesting from that point of view.
"He had a keen mind. He certainly had wonderful experiences that I could tap into. He could draw back on things that he witnessed and tie them into the current problems we discussed."
Gen. Collins' father, Maj. Gen. James Lawton Collins (West Point Class of 1907), was aide-de-camp to Gen. John J. Pershing during numerous assignments.
Gen. Collins was the nephew of Gen. Joseph Lawton Collins, former chief of staff during the Korean War and a distinguished military figure, particularly during WWII and the Battle of the Bulge.
Gen. Collins was the older brother of Michael Collins, who served in the U.S. Air Force and was a NASA astronaut on space flights Gemini X and Apollo XI.
In addition to his wife and Mrs. Park, Gen. Collins is survived by daughter Corinne Collins of California; son James Lawton Collins III of California; daughter Suzanne C. Munson of Arlington; and seven grandchildren.
He is survived by his sisters, Virginia Weart and Agnes Spera of Florida and the District, respectively; and his brother, Michael Collins of Florida.
Gen. Collins was cremated. His remains will be buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery on June 20.


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