Richard Paul Collins Interview

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From: Richard Paul Collins (rc) Medium: Video and Audio Date: May 6, 2011 Place: Home of Cort-Lyn Perez 1615 Sylvan Drive, Marion, Indiana 46953 Collected by: Cort-Lyn Perez (cp)

(cp) Please state your name?

(rc) Richard Paul Collins

(cp) And our location?

(rc) 1615 Sylvan Drive, Marion Indiana

(cp) Can you tell me the date? (rc) It is the sixth of May two thousand and eleven.

(cp) Do I have permission to tape you with an audio and visual device?

(rc) Yes.

(cp) Do I have permission to share this information with Marion High School?


(cp) What branch of the military did you serve in?

(rc) Uh, the United States Air Force.

(cp)During what time did you serve?

(rc) From August 25, 1983 until April 1, 1988 and then as inactive reserve until March of 1989.

(cp) What was your reason for choosing the Air Force as opposed to another branch?

(rc) I knew several people that were in the Air Force and got a chance to talk to them. I was interested in going into law enforcement and uh it sounded more like the day to day type of job then say Marines or the Army which is I though a little more militaristic like and uh it just appealed to me a little more.

(cp)Where did you go to basic training?

(rc) Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas uh it is the only basic training facility for the Air Force.

(cp) Do you recall any experiences that you had during basic training?

(rc) Yeah, uh, we arrived in San Antonio about midnight and got to Lackland Air Force base about one fifteen in the morning and uh it was pretty much all smiles and everything was nice but the people that picked us up that was riding on the bus from the air force, uh, we go in the back gates I learned later to the air- uh Lackland Air Force Base so you can’t run away easily. Uh, We got off the bus and they opened up the bottom of the bus to get our bags out and that was when all the screaming and yelling started and they lined us up on the sidewalk and then we had our suitcases in our hand and we were in three or four lines being screamed at to get at attention and then we played this game call “Pick’em up and Put’em down” and we would put our bags down and we would have to stand back up at attention and they would say pick’em up and then they would say put ‘em down and we and we played that for about thirty minutes and then they took us to our dorms. And uh we had lockers your pretty disoriented it’s late your tired, uh they actually took us in and fed us and we got in bed by about three o’clock in the morning and uh woke up the next morning they actually let us sleep in which at the time we didn’t realize that was sleeping in compared to everybody else and how basic training was later that was sleeping in. Uh but we did wake up to a trash can with a stick being beat with a guy walking down the thing telling us to get up get up stand at attention beside our beds by that time we are all wondering what we volunteered for here. Uh we got there on a Friday which is bad they don’t do any processing on Friday so we spent the weekends called rainbows and it’s cause everyone is in different colored clothes you still have your hair but they are starting to teach you to march in a in a group and you stand out from everybody else because at the time fatigues was the uniform and -uh you uh you you defiantly stood out from everyone else. And then come Monday -uh the first one of the first things you get your hair cut and during the three days well kinda Friday, Saturday, Sunday we had altogether you got to know everybody a little bit, who was sleeping next to you and kinda started making some friends but by the end of the day Monday everybody being in the same green uniform and a haircut everybody looks alike and we all had to learn who we were again which was kind of an interesting experience.

(cp) What was your job in the air force?

(rc) I worked law enforcement.

(cp) Um..Where did you go for law enforcement academy?

(rc) I was on the other side of Lackland Air Force base. The uh security police training or law enforcement training uh was right on the same base. Most people when they go to a different job would go to a different base. So it was kind of a bummer to us a little bit to go to the same side opposite side of the same base we just went through basic training on. Uh Also that is there is a detachment there for the marines. And that’s where the marines go for their law enforcement training. And it was a mixed class with mixed air force and marine instructors. Uh, which made it kind of interesting. We had to march and stand at ease like marines. Uh, they really liked to march us from the marine side of things, but the air force instructors were a little more mild.

(cp) What bases did you serve at?

(rc) Uh, my first base was Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri. I was originally supposed to go to Patrick Air Force Base in Florida, but those orders got canceled two days before my tech school was out. And then my second base (I was there for about a year and a half).. And then my –it was a SAC base- and the mission there was to support and maintain one hundred and fifty-one minutemen missiles and launch them if necessary. We didn’t launch, but we were protecting them so they could be launched at that point. Uh, there was fifteen underground missile launching control facilities – LCF’s- and they were all capable of launching ten missiles each and they were scattered throughout the state of Missouri. And, which was pretty much at the height-heighth of the cold war. It was also a SAC base. There aren’t many; there aren’t any SAC bases now. There was only a few at a time. Which stands for Strategic Air Command and those were all based on, uh, the nuclear arms race that was going on at the time. Uh, a minutemen missile, for a little bit more description on it, is also known as an ICBM – which is an Intercontinental Balistic’s Missile. And, some of them contained up to three warheads and each warhead was several mega-tons which made the Hirashima and the Nagasoki bombs look like nothing, but yet there was three of those warheads in each one. Then I went to Anderson Air Force Base in Guam in the south pacific and that was the 43rd police squadron there I was at. It was a SAC base, also. Once you was in SAC, it was hard to get out of SAC. They like to keep you in there because they spend extra money giving you extra security clearances cause occasionally you had to work directly around the nuclear weapons and those were –uh- very high security two-man no-own zones. Ummm… in other words you had a special badge that you had to trade to go into certain areas and then at no time there was only two people allowed in there at a time. There was never only one person allowed in there at a time. Uh, once again Anderson Air Force Base mission was very similar. It was three B52 Bombers uploaded with cruise nucs on the wings sitting out there on alert at all times.

(cp) What was the highest rank you achieved while serving?

(rc) Uh, just as I got out was – uh- about a year before I got out, actually, I put on E4 which is sergeant which is a non-commissioned officer. And then I was testing for staff –staff sergeant which is the next rank up E5 and I had just had passed to get staff sergeant and that’s when…right at the time the Clinton administration had taken over they were downsizing the military and it interrupted my –uh- time in the service. I was supposed to serve full time until August of that year, but because of the downsize we had two weeks to make up our minds just out of the clear blue sky and –uh-I had a business opportunity I wanted to do.

(cp) Did you receive any awards?

(rc) Uh yes, I –uh- got an Air Force Achivement medal uh it was based on a uh excersise that is worldwide for the Air Force once a year called Global Shield. And uh I was actually working around a, it’s a game-it’s a war game that supposedly a it was a real B-52 Bomber with a grid around it, that you weren’t to allow anyone in. And I stopped several people that were trying to get into that grid. Supposedly it was also uploaded with nuclear weapons, but once again it was just an excersise that the Air Force does it every year. Uh- I got the Air Force Achivement medal for that. Also, my ribbons before I got out was in Air Force Good Conduct medal, the Air Force Overseas Sevrice Long Tour ribbon, the Air Force Longevity service ribbon, the Air Force Outstanding Unit award with two devices and that was from Whitman Air Force base, which we won several awards for how it was ran and uh the Expert Marksman with two oak clusters which ment that I made marksman expert ten times. (cp) What was your biggest struggle that you had to face while serving?

(rc) Uh-not so much stateside uh- Whiteman Air Force base was considered the last remote assignment that you could go to in the Continental United States. It was definitely out there. Uh-it was, once I went to Guam uh- you know you are almost three quarters away around the world and I got to say it was probably homesickness.

(cp) Did you ever feel threatened-at all?

(rc) No-uh- I was very fortunate to be in during the years I was in- from eighty-three to eighty-eight- uh pretty much uh, Ronald Regan the president at the time had started the Star Wars program, which was forcing Russia, I believe, into bankruptcy. It pretty much crushed the Soviet Union. There were no conflicts going on at the time, which I was kind of fortunate.

(cp)How did you stay in touch with your family?

Uh-Whiteman Air Force base at the time wasn’t that hard, phone call-relatively cheep. I occasionally went home it was about an eight and half hour drive from Whitman Air Force Base to my house. Uh- Once I got to Guam it was phone call only or letters. Uh- They had a special phone- I believe it was AT&T- phone centers, and uh rather expensive the first three minutes the first minute was three dollars and then it was a dollar and a quarter for every minute after that and then I either had to inconvenience myself and call in the middle of the night uh so, I didn’t inconvenience my parents because there is thirteen hours difference in the time.

(cp) Did you have any problems re-adjusting to civilian life after you left?

(rc)Uh- and that is a good question- Uh the military doesn’t, at the time I don’t know If they do now or not, they do not do any type of re-adjustment type training. And when you first get out of the service, you have been uh elevated to a fairly high level. You know, you are even told things like civilians are scumbags, and you always think of civilian people as scumbags, which is kind of bad to say, but that is kind of how they train you cause they try to boost you. When you went to the store or the PX or whatever on base everything was really organized, people were really organized. There is just a lot of organization and order in the service. And then Once I got out, going to civilians stores there seemed to be pushing shoving rudeness um there is just no organization to the civilian world like there is in the military. And after five years it takes a little while to adjust back to that disorganization.

(cp) How did you service experience- er- How did your service and your experiences effect your life after the, after being discharged?

(rc) Um, First of all most employers like the fact that you have been in the military. Uh, you learn to form a goal and you are trained on how to reach those goals. And that is one thing nice about the military you can organize your life, get an objective out there and uh reach for it. And it gives you that.

(cp) Thank you for allowing me to interview you.

(rc) You’re welcome.