John J. Collins, Colonel USAF Retired
John J. Collins, “Jack,” of Lancaster, PA, passed away on Wednesday, October 17, 2018, at the Glen at Willow Valley, after just celebrating his 98th birthday last week. He was the loving husband of B. June Collins, with whom he shared 76 wonderful years.
Born in Reading, PA, Jack graduated from Wyomissing High School and went on to study at Franklin and Marshall College. After completing two years there, he was accepted for the Aviation Cadet Program for pilot training. Primary training was at Coleman, Texas, Basic training at Randolph Field, Texas (then known as the West Point of The Air Force), and then on to Kelly Field, where he received his wings and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant.
Upon graduation, Jack was assigned to the 6th Anti-Submarine Squadron, where he flew B24 Anti-Submarine patrols out of Newfoundland and St. Eval England. The Navy took over those duties and Jack was assigned to the Eighth Air Force 93 Bomb Group and flew 30 combat missions out of England.
Jack began his flying career in Lancaster and received his private flying license at the age of 18 under the efforts of Dick Bomberger and Jesse Jones. During Jack’s flying career, he amassed some 10,000 flying hours and was qualified in some 25 different aircraft ranging from the J-2 Piper Cub to the 10 engine B-36. Jack was also jet qualified, flying T-33’s and F-80’s.
Jack held many key positions in The Air Force from Base Commander to a Pentagon assignment with the Inspector General.
Jack’s awards include the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with Silver Cluster, AF Commendation American and European Theater Ribbons with two bronze stars.
After retirement, John went to work with Rorer Pharmaceutical Co. for fifteen years as Special Assistant to the Senior Vice President for Governmental Affairs and later on as Director of Engineering.
In retirement, Jack was considered an accomplished water color artist and loved fishing, sailing, golfing, and landscaping.
Surviving besides his wife are two daughters; Mary Gregg, wife of Bill of MD, and Jill Finan of NV, and two grandchildren; Stephen Gregg, husband of Lauren Rodriquez-Gregg of VA, and Lauren Gregg, wife of Shil Patel of GA. Jack was preceded in death by his parents, his son; John Collins, a granddaughter; Julie Whittaker, and a son-in-law; Dick Finan.
Relatives and friends are invited to celebrate Jack’s life on Saturday, October 27, 2018 at 2:00 P.M. in the Johnson Auditorium, Willow Valley Manor North, 600 Willow Valley Square, Lancaster, PA.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to MADD, 511 E. John Carpenter Freeway, Irving, TX 75062 or to the American Cancer Society, P.O. Box 22478 Oklahoma City, OK 73123.