Collins, Joseph Lawton, GEN

Deceased
 
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Last Rank
General
Last Service Branch
US
Last Primary MOS
00G2-Army General Officer (G2)
Last MOS Group
General Officer
Primary Unit
1955-1956, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
Service Years
1917 - 1956

US

General



Eight Overseas Service Bars


 Last Photo   Personal Details 

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Home State
Louisiana
Louisiana
Year of Birth
1896
 
This Military Service Page was created/owned by SSG Trey W. Franklin to remember Collins, Joseph Lawton (Lightnin Joe 18 CofS), GEN USA(Ret).

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Contact Info
Home Town
Algiers, Louisiana
Last Address
New Orleans, Louisiana

Date of Passing
Sep 12, 1987
 
Location of Interment
Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, Virginia
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Plot: Section 30, Site 422

 Official Badges 

Infantry Shoulder Cord Army Staff Identification US Army Retired (Pre-2007) French Fourragere




 Unofficial Badges 






 Additional Information
Last Known Activity

Joseph "Lightning Joe" Lawton Collins (1 May 1896 – 12 September 1987) was a General in the United States Army. During World War II, he served in both the Pacific and European Theaters of Operations. His elder brother, James Lawton Collins, was also in the army as a Major General. His nephew, Michael Collins, would become famous for being the Command Module Pilot on the Apollo 11 mission in 1969 that saw the first two men on the Moon. He too would retire as a Major General, but he was in the Air Force. He was Army Chief of Staff during the Korean War.
 


Early career
 

Collins was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, on 1 May 1896. He graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1917; was commissioned a second lieutenant and assigned to the 22nd Infantry, April 1917; was promoted to first lieutenant, May 1917, and temporary captain, August 1917. He attended the Infantry School of Arms at Fort Sill and served with his regiment at various locations, 1917–1919. Collins was promoted to captain, June 1918, and to temporary major, September 1918; commanded the 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry, in France, 1919, and was assistant chief of staff, G-3, of American Forces in Germany, 1920–1921.


Advancement

 

Collins married Gladys Easterbrook, 1921; reverted to captain, 1920; was instructor in the department of chemistry at West Point, 1921–1925; graduated from the company officer course at the Infantry School, Fort Benning, 1926, and from the advanced course at the Field Artillery School, Fort Sill, 1927. He was an instructor in weapons and tactics at the Infantry School, 1927–1931; was promoted to major, August 1932; was executive officer of the 23rd Brigade, Manila, and assistant chief of staff, G-2, Philippine Division, 1933–1934.
 

He graduated from the Army Industrial College, 1937, and the Army War College, 1938; was an instructor at the Army War College, 1938–1940. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel, June 1940; was chief of staff of the VII Corps, 1941.


Major Commands

 

 

Omar Bradley & Collins at Cherbourg, June 1944
 

Collins was promoted to the temporary ranks of colonel, January 1941, brigadier general, February 1942, and major general, May 1942. He was chief of staff of the Hawaiian Department, 1941–1942, and commanding general of the 25th Infantry Division—the "Tropic Lightning" Division—on Oahu and in operations against the Japanese on Guadalcanal, 1942–1943 and on New Georgia in from July to October 1943.
 

Transferred to Europe, he commanded VII Corps in the Normandy invasion and in Western European campaigns to the German surrender, 1944–1945. The VII Corps is best-known for the leading role it played in Operation Cobra; less well known is Collins' contribution to that plan. Throughout the 1944-45 campaign, the VII Corps tended to lead the most important 1st Army efforts. Collins was widely considered the best US Corps commander in the theatre.[citation needed]
 

Collins was promoted to temporary lieutenant general (April) and permanent brigadier general (June), 1945. He was deputy commanding general and chief of staff of Army Ground Forces, August – December 1945; was director of information (later chief of public information) of the Army, 1945–1947; was deputy (later vice) chief of staff of the United States Army, 1947–1949; was promoted to temporary general and permanent major general, January 1948.
 

Collins was chief of staff of the United States Army, 16 August 1949 – 15 August 1953; as such he was the Army’s senior officer throughout the Korean War.
 

He directed the Army’s operation of the railroads, brought the first Special Forces group into the order of battle, and was closely associated with the development of the Army’s contribution to the newly established North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
 

He was representative of the United States to the Military Committee and the Standing Group of NATO, 1953–1954; was special representative of the United States in Vietnam with ambassadorial rank, 1954–1955; returned to his NATO assignment; retired from active service, March 1956.
 

Collins died in Washington, D.C., on 12 September 1987. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
 

   
Other Comments:
Born on May 1, 1896 at New Orleans, Louisiana, he graduated from West Point in 1917.

He was an aggressive and able commander in World War II with the VII Corps, which fought at Guadalcanal and which went ashore at Utah Beach in the invasion of France, fighting throughout the remainder of the campaign in Europe. 
 

He had been initially sent to Hawaii as Chief-of-Staff of VII Corps, to organize its defenses after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He then replaced General Alexander Vandegrift (USMC) as commander of the 25th Division on Guadalcanal, where he earned the nickname "Lightnin' Joe" for his aggressive pursuit of the enemy.
 

In February 1944 he assumed command of VII Corps and led the breakout from the Normandy beachhead in June. He commanded successful operations at Argentan-Falaise, Cherbourg, St. Lo, Namur and Aaches (first major German city to fall to the Allies), and later at Cologne, Remagen and the Ruhn pocket in Germany. He was promoted to Lieutenant General in April 1945.
 

He was Chief-of-Staff of the United States Army during the Korean War and served later as United States Ambassador to Vietnam early in U.S. involvement in that country.
 

He died in Washington, D.C. on September 12, 1987 of cardiac arrest and was buried in Section 30 of Arlington National Cemetery. His wife, Gladys Easterbrook Collins, daughter of the first Chief of Army Chaplains Colonel Edmund P. Easterbrook (1894-1989), is buried with him.
 

His brother, James Lawton Collins, Major General, United States Army, and his nephew, James Lawton Collins, Jr., Brigadier General, United States Army, are also buried in Arlington National Cemtery. Courtesy of the United States Army
Center For Military History

 

Joseph Lawton Collins was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, on 1 May 1896;  he graduated from the United States Military Academy, 1917; was commissioned a Second Lieutenant and assigned to the 22d Infantry, April 1917; he was promoted to First Lieutenant, May 1917, and temporary Captain, August 1917; he attended the Infantry School of Arms at Fort Sill and served with his regiment at various locations, 1917–1919; he was promoted to Captain, June 1918, and to temporary Major, September 1918; he commanded the 3d Battalion, 22d Infantry, in France, 1919, and was assistant chief of staff, G–3, of American Forces in Germany, 1920–1921; he married Gladys Easterbrook, 1921; he reverted to Captain, 1920; 
 

He was instructor in the department of chemistry at West Point, 1921–1925; he graduated from the company officer course at the Infantry School, Fort Benning, 1926, and from the advanced course at the Field Artillery School, Fort Sill, 1927; was an instructor in weapons and tactics at the Infantry School, 1927–1931; was promoted to Major, August 1932; was executive officer of the 23d Brigade, Manila, and assistant chief of staff, G–2, Philippine Division, 1933–1934; graduated from the Army Industrial College, 1937, and the Army War College, 1938; was an instructor at the Army War College, 1938–1940; he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, June 1940; 
 

He was chief of staff of the VII Corps, 1941; he was promoted to the temporary ranks of Colonel, January 1941, Brigadier General, February 1942, and Major General, May 1942; was chief of staff of the Hawaiian Department, 1941–1942, and commanding general of the 25th Infantry Division on Oahu and in operations against the Japanese on Guadalcanal, 1942–1943.
 

H commanded VII Corps in the Normandy invasion and in Western European campaigns to the German surrender, 1944–1945; was promoted to temporary Lieutenant General (April) and permanent Brigadier General (June), 1945; he was deputy Commanding General and Chief of Staff of Army Ground Forces,  August–December 1945; he was Director of Information (later Chief of Public Information) of the Army, 1945–1947; he was Deputy (later Vice) Chief of Staff of the United States Army, 1947–1949; he was promoted to temporary General and permanent Major General, January 1948; he was Chief of Staff of the United States Army, 16 August 1949–15 August 1953.
 

H was the Army’s senior officer throughout the Korean War, directed the Army’s operation of the railroads, brought the first Special Forces group into the order of battle, and was closely associated with the development of the Army’s contribution to the newly established North Atlantic Treaty Organization; he was representative of the United States to the Military Committee and the Standing Group of NATO, 1953–1954; he was special representative of the United States in Vietnam with Ambassadorial rank, 1954–1955; he returned to his NATO assignment; he retired from active service, March 1956 and died in Washington, D.C., on 12 September 1987.  He was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery.

 


   
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 Unit Assignments
Airborne School1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry RegimentUnited States Military Academy West Point (Staff)
Infantry Center and School (Staff) Fort Benning, GAPhilippine DivisionIndustrial College of the Armed Forces (Staff)Army War College (Staff)
VII Corps Hawaiian Division25th Infantry Division (Tropic Lightning)Special Troops Battalion, VII Corps
Army Ground ForcesDepartment of the Army (DA)Office of the Chief of Staff of the ArmyNorth Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
Free World Forces Vietnam
  1913-1917, Airborne School
  1917-1919, 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment
  1919-1919, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment
  1921-1925, United States Military Academy West Point (Staff)
  1926-1926, Infantry Center and School (Staff) Fort Benning, GA
  1927-1927, Airborne School
  1927-1931, Airborne School
  1933-1934, Philippine Division
  1937-1937, Industrial College of the Armed Forces (Staff)
  1938-1940, Army War College (Staff)
  1940-1941, VII Corps
  1941-1942, Hawaiian Division
  1942-1944, 25th Infantry Division (Tropic Lightning)
  1944-1945, Special Troops Battalion, VII Corps/HHC
  1945-1945, Army Ground Forces
  1945-1949, Department of the Army (DA)
  1949-1953, Office of the Chief of Staff of the Army
  1953-1954, US Army NATO Brigade
  1954-1955, Free World Forces Vietnam
  1955-1956, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1917-1918 World War I
  1942-1943 Guadalcanal Campaign (1942-43)/Battle of Guadalcanal
  1943-1943 Northern Solomons Campaign (1943-44)/Battle of New Georgia
  1944-1944 Northern France Campaign (1944)/Operation Cobra
  1944-1944 Operation Overlord/D-Day Beach Landings - Operation Neptune
  1944-1945 WWII - European-African-Middle Eastern Theater/Rhineland Campaign (1944-45)
 Colleges Attended 
United States Military Academy
  1913-1917, United States Military Academy
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