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South Williamsport, PA
United States

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Local Resident was Army Major General Who had Navy Ship Named for Him

Lycoming County has a long and glorious military history that has contributed numerous men and women who have distinguished themselves in the service of their county. One of the most notable of these was U.S. Army Major General Edgar T. Collins, who even had a U.S. Navy ship named for him. I am grateful to

Lycoming County has a long and glorious military history that has contributed numerous men and women who have distinguished themselves in the service of their county. One of the most notable of these was U.S. Army Major General Edgar T. Collins, who even had a U.S. Navy ship named for him. I am grateful to local military historian Mike McMunn for bringing Collins to my attention.

Edgar T. Collins was born on a farm in Hepburn Township on March 7, 1873. He was educated at nearby schools before attending Muncy Normal School and Dickinson Seminary. After that, he got a job teaching school at two one-room schoolhouses. One in Pennsdale and one in Balls Mills. Collins’ brother, Emerson, once served as Pennsylvania’s Deputy Attorney General.

Edgar received an appointment to U.S. Military at West Point, graduating in 1897, when he was commissioned as a second lieutenant. He saw action during the Spanish-American War in 1898.

He went on to serve with distinction during World War I, going to France twice. During one of his stints in France, he served as a U.S. military observer with French and British forces. He returned from France and served as chief of staff with the 35th Division, returning to France with them in July 1918. He saw action during the St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne offensives. Shortly thereafter, he was detailed to the general staff of the American Expeditionary Force. He later became chief of staff of the 6th Army Corps.

For his distinguished service during World War I, he received from the French, the Legion of Honor, and from the United States the Distinguished Service Medal.

The wording of his DSM said in part, “As an assistant to G5, General Headquarters and later as chief of staff of the Sixth Army Corps and later as chief he demonstrated rare military attainments performing his difficult tasks with unremitting zeal, rendering service conspicuous worth to the American Expeditionary Force.”

After the war, he served at various Army posts, such as Fort Benning, Fort Sill, and Camp Dix.

Collins was promoted to the rank of Major General in 1932. He died on February 10, 1933, and was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.

The Williamsport Sun editorialized about Collins’ death, writing in part, “Although the nature of his career limited his contacts with his home county, Lycoming County was proud to have given such a distinguished soldier to the United States Army as Maj. General Edgar T. Collins. The responsibilities imposed upon him by the War Department attested to high standing in military science while his World War record and high decorations conferred upon him indicate the high estimate which the nation placed upon his services as a soldier in action.”

The story does not end there. In 1944, the U.S. Navy saw fit to name one of its ships, a troop carrier, the U.S.S. General Edgar T. Collins, like the general it was named for, it saw action in the heart of combat in both World War II and the Korean War. The ship earned five battle stars for its service during the Korean War. The Collins was also part of the support task force for the atomic tests at Eniwetok in October and November 1952. The ship was finally scrapped in 1982.