4:08 | Colonel Quincy Collins was born in Winnsboro, South Carolina. His father was in the furniture business and had three separate locations across the country before becoming a member of the Civil Air Patrol during WWII. Collins wound up going to The Citadel for school since he had some connections there through music departments.
Keywords : Quincy Collins Winnsboro SC father World War II civil air patrol Columbia SC Concord family College The Citadel music musician World War I airplane
Collins went to military school at The Citadel. Upon being admitted, he immediately sought out the school's band and auditioned for that. He talks about the types of tests he had to take to get into the Air Force, and how he was instructed to report to Sampson Air Force Base in New York afterwards.
Collin's first assignment was to attend pilot school in Bainbridge, Georgia. In addition, he had another assignment to go to Laredo Air Force Base in Texas. There he underwent a lot of difficult training exercises.
After his first round of training, Collins reported to Nellis Air Force Base for advanced jet gunnery school. Unfortunately, he injured his back in the middle of his training. Despite that hiccup, he was tasked with training the first three classes and working base operations. While trying to apply for a regular position in the Air Force, there was one stubborn man who wouldn't let him finish the process.
Collins talks about his all important assignment to the Air Force Academy, training the first three classes, and what that was like for him as an instructor. He recounts one particular student who preferred not to be there, and Collins had a back and forth with the student's mother about it.
While he was training the first three classes, Quincy Collins remembers a few very unfortunate accidents that happened in the Air Force Academy. He also remembers the details about how some of the uniforms for the Air Force were created by costume designers all the way from Hollywood.
After he was done with his time at the Air Force Academy, Collins flew over to Europe. He talks about his first few days there, as well as becoming camp commander. Later on, he would go to be interviewed to be an aid for General Frank Everest.
Collins talks about his crazy interview with General Frank Everest, and how he got the job almost instantly because of how well they connected. Around this time, his first son was born. After the General retired, he went to chief of staff school at Maxwell Air Force Base.
Collins took an assignment from the Thunderbirds, but figured that the job was better suited for his friend, Andy Nile. Unfortunately, as Andy was up in the air with the leader of the Thunderbirds at the time, they performed a loop maneuver that did them both in before they could eject themselves. Collins in part blames himself for Andy's death, but has learned to live with the fact that it wasn't his fault.
Collins went to command staff school, where he got to fly the F-104 Starfighter airplanes. He also remembers that it was around this time that the Cuban missile crisis was going on. Soon after, he became so good at flying the F-104s that he became the instructor pilot for incoming trainees.
When his return date from Europe was coming up, Collins decided to fly the giant F-105 planes as his next military chapter. He flew over Japan and was sent to Southeast Asia after. He spent some time in Takhli, Thailand, where he constantly had to check his boots for snakes before putting them on.
Collins' job was to take his division commander to Saigon, Vietnam and then to Takhli, Thailand. Upon getting to Takhli, he was assigned to a squadron. He tells the incredible story of how he was shot down, his not-so-comfortable landing and how he had NVA soldiers pointing guns at him.
After he was shot down over enemy territory, Quincy Collins noticed his leg was broken in three different places upon his parachuted landing. The North Vietnamese soldiers that discovered him dragged him along, and all the while Collins thought he was a goner. They wound up hiking back up the Ho Chi Minh Trail to Hanoi. Fortunately, one generous Vietnamese man was helping him recover in secret little by little.
Collins tells stories of how that one nice North Vietnamese gentleman continued to help him by bringing him small things like snacks, water, and eventually even beer. The guards demanded to know who was the most 'senior' out of the American prisoners captured. Even though Collins wasn't the most senior, he selflessly took the fall for it every day.
On Christmas Eve of 1965, Collins and all of the other POWs in his area, were moved around to their respective cells of one or two people each. He remembers trying to communicate with men in other cells, which proved to be harder than it sounds. Eventually, they were regrouped again in Hanoi, Vietnam into groups of five men per cell.
Upon the request of the NVA running the prisoner of war camp, Collins was asked to form a choir along with other musically inclined prisoners. While they were practicing, they set it up so that there was a hidden message for the American audience watching; spilling information about the POWs.
After the North Vietnamese found out about the secret message hidden in the choir's performance, Quincy Collins was not killed because of it, but he was sent away on an isolated tour afterwards. After five whole years, he got his first letter from back home. It was his mother explaining that his dad had died. Turns out his loved ones had thought he was dead for years.
For the final year and a half that Collins was kept as a prisoner of war, he was actually in the same cell as John McCain. As the war was finally coming to a close, the men were told not to show any emotion during the release process. On the way back home, each man was assigned a job. Collins' job was to be in charge of the wounded.
Collins describes in detail what it was like to finally be allowed to return home, from the final sign out of the prisoner of war camp to the ride back and touching back down on American soil. Sadly, his wife was fairly cold to him when he got back. He gives his final reflections and words of advice to generations forthcoming.
It was a culture shock, arriving in Vietnam. Mike Morris remembers the wire mesh on the bus windows to keep out hand grenades. He was an NCO, but totally green, and the old hands began to groom the newbie. The first night, artillery shook him awake. Was it theirs or ours?
He was a supply officer for his first three months in Vietnam, but they decided to send Mike Paque into the field. When he got to Camp Hard Times, the CO made him the supply officer for that unit. Vietnamization was underway, so that outfit was disbanded and he went to a mechanized unit as a platoon leader.
Mike Morris thought the Vietnam War would go on forever. After serving there, he just didn't see any way you could prevail. He resumed working for the Chicago White Sox, but eventually, he returned to the Army as a chaplain's assistant and then as a recruiter for chaplains.
You didn't move at night unless you had to. Mike Paque took patrols out and they always made a secure position at night. He only had two disciplinary problems during his time as a platoon leader. One guy wanted to play his radio on patrol, but the other one had a bigger problem
His company command at the Cua Viet River was just the way Richard Jackson liked it. He was given free reign to take care of his area. He describes the tactics he used to fight the enemy and recalls one memorable fight in which his men and an NVA unit charged at each other in darkness.
Before the Tet offensive began, there were reports of enemy movements and infiltration, but no one expected the size or scope of the attacks. For Mike Morris, it was the beginning of three months of chasing the Communist forces away from Saigon and back to the north and west.
You used a lot of artillery support when you moved. Mike Paque was leader of the scout platoon and when they moved in their armored personnel carriers, they would walk artillery fire in front of them to clear the way. At other times, they were air mobile, traveling above the fray in helicopters.
One night, while Laurie was eating dinner, the USS Sanctuary got a call about a plane crash. She vividly remembers the patients coming aboard, and the aftermath of this incident, including one boy who was MIA. However, as difficult as this experience was, this was nothing compared to the Tet Offensive. They had new wounded coming in constantly, and trying to care for all of them at once was emotionally exhausting. (Interview conducted at, and with the assistance of, the Military Heritage Museum- https://freedomisntfree.org/.)
The base camp at Cu Chi was a huge sprawling complex that was home to many American units and to someone else as well. Underneath it was a Viet Cong tunnel system almost as large as the base itself. The men who went in after them were known as tunnel rats and it only took one turn at that to convince Mike Morris that this wasn't the job for him.
It was hard to find the enemy. Charlie would disappear into his holes and only come out once the Marines of Mike company had left. Richard Jackson's men tried probing the ground with sharp sticks, but they broke too easily. What they needed was steel. Thus was born the "Mike Spike." Part 1 of 2.
After the column was devastated by an NVA ambush, wounded Americans were scattered in the darkness. After his captain heard one such group calling for help on the radio, Freddie Owens joined a patrol to find them, guided by a gunshot every few minutes. Once there, medic Daniel Torres volunteered to stay with those who couldn't move and protected them through the night with medicine and a machine gun.
It was the most intense action he saw during the war. Mike Morris describes the hour long battle with an NVA unit that made an unusual frontal assault. When daylight came, it was a grim scene, with hundreds of enemy dead.
In a letter home, Tommy Clack expressed his worry that something bad was going to happen and it did when his unit engaged the NVA near the Cambodian border. He saw the enemy soldier stand and fire the RPG that changed his life forever.
The RPG that severed Joe McDonald’s foot didn’t kill him. The machine gun fire that hit him as he still tried to help others didn’t kill him. The grenade taped to his hand might have killed him if the VC had found his hiding place.
They were hunkered down after fierce fighting when the call came from "Ghost 4-6." It was a group of wounded men who had pulled themselves together after the ill fated march to LZ Albany and were lost in the dark. George Forrest sent a patrol to find them, and in an incredible act of bravery, medic Daniel Torres stayed through the night with them and saved many men. Captain Forrest still had to write a gut-wrenching letter to the mother of a missing soldier. Part 3 of 4.
As Marine Captain Ron Christmas fought to regain the city of Hue, he found the enemy adept at concealment and surprise. Every soldier in a spider hole was armed with a rifle and a RPG launcher. His action during this time earned him the Navy Cross.
You went unassigned to Vietnam, a roll of the dice. Sgt. Major Henry Rice joined the staff at 1st Brigade, 1st Division headquarters. That didn't sound like he would be in a chopper much, but he was. He was offered a prestigious assignment at MACV, but he was ready to retire after three wars.
He was drafted, but with a college degree, he was eligible for Officer Candidate School. Mike Paque went through basic training and advanced infantry training, then it was off to Fort Benning for OCS. It was tough, maybe tougher than what was coming.
The medics were respected and protected by the rest of the unit and given the title of "Doc" once they were in combat. The medic who treated Mike Morris the day he was wounded later died himself in the same battle.
Newly minted Lieutenant Mike Paque was at Fort Polk, moving large numbers of draftees through training and on to Vietnam. It was not a satisfying job, so he volunteered to go ahead and go himself. He knew he would be going, anyway, so he might as well get out of that place.
When Mike Morris got to Vietnam, he was issued an M-16 rifle, which was new to him. His first mission ended with him covered in mud, but he still had access to a shower at this point. That wouldn't last. In his backpack you could find socks and candy, supplied by his mom, which was a big help.
The airmen didn't like the infantry's dirty boots on their PX floor, but they changed their tune after a Viet Cong attack. Those infantry boys were welcome, after all. Mike Paque recalls that, after that incident, his entire division moved to the Cambodian border in a bid to clear out enemy refuges.
Before Mike Morris got to Vietnam, he heard a lot about the booby traps. It was a terrible fear in the back of your mind. What if I fall into one of those pits? It was a very dangerous place where the people wanted you gone.
Camp Hard Times was in a valley which led up to the mountains and was there to block Viet Cong movement down from the high ground. Mike Paque remembers the village next to the camp and how pleasant the people were in their rural life which was almost untouched by modern times.
People were rotating in and out of Vietnam all the time. When you got close to the end of your twelve months, you started to duck for cover a little faster. While recovering from a wound, Mike Morris lucked into a clerk typist job, and with only a couple of months to go, it looked like he was going to make it through his tour.
Al Stiles remembers that it seemed to take forever steaming into home port at Charleston. The USS Manley had returned from Vietnam and he was anxious to see his wife. He adapted his letters home to her, along with deck logs and other materials into a book.
Mike Paque had just arrived at division headquarters in Pleiku when he met the supply officer, who was about to rotate home. He wound up with his job by virtue of his business administration degree and began to improve the situation and make friends.
He was in the Marine Reserves, but in training, a doctor told him he needed hernia surgery and he was out. Mike Morris still had a military obligation, though, and the draft put him in the Army as soon as he was able. He did well because of his previous experience and was sent to NCO school.