Dennis C. Collins, LTC, Ret., USAR of Faulkton, died at his home Sunday, Jan. 25,
2004, just hours short of his 62nd birthday.
His funeral was held Thursday, Jan. 29 at the United Church of Faulkton with the Rev.
Bruce Adams officiating. Burial will be at the Faulkton Cemetery at a later date after
cremation. Luce Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.
Dennis Collins was born January 26, 1942 to Merle C. & Elsie (Nylander) Collins. He
was raised on a farm south of Lebanon, S.D. with his sister Linova and two brothers,
Donovan and Dean. He was a 4-H member and received many trophies and purple
ribbons at the State Fair for his sheep.
After graduation from Gettysburg High School in 1959 he attended SDSU. He graduated in June 1965 with a BS degree and was commissioned a 2nd Lt, U.S. Army from the
ROTC Program. He was assigned to the 1st Aviation Brigade as a Bird Dog and
Mohawk pilot flying surveillance/reconnaissance missions and served two tours in
Vietnam from July 1967-68 and August 1971-April 1972.
It was on one of these missions supporting a Long Range/Recon Patrol (LR/RP) team that his aircraft sustained enemy fire and he was wounded. He recovered from his injuries and continued to serve his nation in tours at Army bases in Germany, Ft. Bliss, Texas, Ft. Stewart, Ga., Ft. Rucker, Ala., and the United States Army Reserve School in Sioux Falls.
He retired as a Lieutenant Colonel from the U.S. Army in 1983. During his military career he was awarded many medals and badges including the Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal with "V" Device, Purple Heart, Republic of Viet Nam Campaign Medal and Senior Aviator Badge.
Dennis met his wife, Karen R. (Bierman) Collins of Faulkton in college. Karen graduated
from SDSU in 1966 with a BS in nursing and was commissioned a 2nd LT in the U.S.
Army Nurse Corps.
When Dennis left active duty and the family returned to Faulkton, it was their 19th move in 11 years. Dennis worked with his two brothers-in-law, Curtis, and Craig Bierman, doing
carpentry work for many years. In 1992, Dennis fell from the roof while working on a new
home in Sioux Falls, sustaining two fractured vertebrae. After his recuperation he
continued to carpenter until 1997.
Residual pain from his injury convinced him to change careers again and he began working for United Service Locating, locating underground services including telephone, electricity, and cable. His expertise led him to become a student instructor for UUL and he traveled the state as a 'floating' locator. He loved this career and the opportunity to meet and work with people all over the area, especially his territory of Redfield and Miller.
In 1997 Dennis was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia and in October 2003
he was diagnosed with lung cancer. Both diseases are related to Agent Orange
exposure. His courage, humor, and faith to be a survivor sustained his family and friends
to the end.
Dennis belonged to the United Methodist Church where he sang in the choir, served on
the Faulkton School Board for eight years, was a lifetime member of the Reserve
Officers Association and the VFW, a member of the IOOF for many years and was an
EMT on the Faulkton Ambulance crew for many years.
Dennis leaves behind his wife, Karen of Faulkton; daughters, Cpt. Rachelle (Alfred)
Hartze and Cpt. Rebecca (William) McKeon, both of Rapid City, SD; three
grandchildren; sister, Linova Kubal of Gregory; brothers, Donovan of St. Louis, Mo. and
Dean of Minneapolis, Minn.; his wife's family, who considered him to be their brother;
and many friends and extended family.
His parents preceded him in death.
Dennis C. Collins
Hand County, South Dakota Genealogy & Family Research Center
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