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"Whatever my country would ask me to do, I would do it, just as a moral obligation I had, to my country, to the Marines, and just to the guys in my unit." (Audio Interview, 14:52)

   Stephen M. Collins, Jr.
Image of Stephen M. Collins, Jr.
Stephen Collins on USS Kearsarge [2003]
War: Iraq War, 2003-2011
Branch: Marine Corps
Unit: Company A, 8th Tank Battalion, 4th Marine Division
Service Location: Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, California; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Fort Knox, Kentucky; Iraq; Kuwait
Rank: Staff Sergeant
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At the time of the September 11 terrorist attacks, Staff Sergeant Stephen M. Collins, Jr., was a Marine Corps reservist and a medical student. Suddenly he had to balance the demands of his educational pursuits with his military obligations and the possibility of deployment. Though many of his colleagues and fellow students asked if he would leave the Marine Corps to focus on medical school, he says he felt a moral obligation to serve his country. He was called to active duty in 2003, and deployed to Iraq and Kuwait as a tank commander with the 8th Tank Battalion in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In an interview conducted for VHP just a few months after he returned from his deployment, Collins reflected on his experience, and shared a straightforward view of his service, saying "I did my job. I did the best that I could do, and I made it back."

Interview (Audio)
»Interview Highlights  (5 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: audio (45 min.)
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 Audio (Interview Excerpts) (5 items)
Choice of career fields; recruiters wanted him to go into administration or avionics; told machine gunners just blow things up. (01:16) Knowing he could be deployed; learning of the events of September 11; people asked if he would leave the Marine Corps to focus on medical school; felt an obligation to continue serving. (02:58) Arriving in Kuwait; preparing tanks for combat; crossing the border into Iraq. (02:31)
Platoon sergeant's tank broke down; staying behind with broken tank; moving north through Iraq; arrival at Camp Viper. (03:55) Focused on getting tank fixed; travelling north to Baghdad; passing his company on the road. (02:02) 
  
 

Home » Stephen M. Collins, Jr.
  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
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