Col Ken Collins 'Dutch 21 '
Ken Collins was born in Leavenworth, Kansas, the home of Fort Leavenworth.Across the Missouri River from Fort Leavenworth is Park University where he attended for two years and joined the Naval Air Reserves. During the summer of 1950, he applied for the Air Force pilot’s training. He was sent to Goodfellow AFB, Texas for Basic Flight Training in January 1951. He completed Advanced Pilot’s Training and was commissioned at Vance AFB, OK on 9 February 1952. In late May 1952, He completed F-80 Jet Transition at Moody AFB, GA, volunteered for Korea and was transferred to Shaw AFB, SC, 18th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron for Combat Crew Training School in the RF-80. He arrived at K-14 (Kimpo Air Base, Korea) in mid August 1952. By March 1953, he had checked out in the RF-80A, the F-80C and the RF-86A and had flown 113 combat missions while in the 15th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (The Cottonpickers).
His new stateside assignment was back to the 18th TRS at Shaw AFB, SC as an Instructor Pilot in the RF-80 and the RF-84F. In October 1955, he was transferred to 10th TRWg, 38th TRS at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany as an Instructor Pilot and Flight Commander in RF-80 and the RF-84F. In 1957, he was reassigned to the Military Advisory Group (MAG) at Erding AB, Germany as an Instructor Pilot with the German Air Force Waffenschule 50 (Weapons School 50). In 1959, he returned to Shaw AFB, SC to the 20th TRS (RF-101) as a Flight Commander and Operations Officer.
In 1960, he was contacted by the USAF Office of NASA requesting that he volunteer for testing for a classified space program. This evolved into the highly classified A-12 Oxcart Program. His first flight in the A-12 was on 6 February 1963. The A-12 experimental test phase lasted through the first months of 1967 followed by the operational deployment to Okinawa. He flew 13 A-12 combat missions being awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Intelligence Star from the Central Intelligence Agency. The A-12 program was cancelled and he elected an assignment to the 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing (SAC) at Beale AFB, CA to fly the SR-71 “Blackbird”. He became the 99th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron Operations Officer, an Instructor Pilot and Test Pilot in the SR-71.
When promoted to Lt. Colonel in 1970, he was made the 1st SRS Commander and after promotion to Colonel was selected to be the 9th SR Wing Deputy Commander for Operations in 1972. Two years later he was reassigned to Headquarters, 15th Air Force, March AFB, California and retired as Deputy Chief of Intelligence in 1980.
His Military Awards include Silver Star, Intelligence Star, Legion of Merit, three Distinguished Flying Crosses, three Air Medals, United Nations Service Medal, Korean Service Medal, Viet Nam Service Medal. He is a member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and the Edwards AFB Historical Test Flight Foundation