Spotlight: Lt. Col. Collins

Published July 31, 2016
Lieutenant Colonel Richard C. Collins became the deputy commander for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Far East District, in July 2016.

Lieutenant Colonel Richard C. Collins became the deputy commander for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Far East District, in July 2016.

“I look forward to the next two years,” said Lt. Col. Richard C. Collins, incoming deputy commander of the Far East District. “We have a grand adventure ahead of us as we relocate to Camp Humphreys while we continue to fulfil our commitments to our customers and stakeholders.”

Lt. Col. Collins arrived at the Far East District after serving as the Chief of Facilities and Construction for the U.S. Army Pacific, programming projects in Korea and elsewhere. No stranger to responsibility, his philosophy is reliant on cooperation and collaboration to succeed.

Regarding the transformation and relocation, he is clear: “A lot of people are counting on us to deliver. It’s going to take the entire team pulling together.”

He’s no stranger to the Corps of Engineers, either. Lt. Col. Collins’ first exposure to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers came when he was assigned to the Republic of Palau in 1999, with the Honolulu Engineer District, and learned the business from a resident engineer from Alaska. He also served as a resident engineer in Japan for three years starting in 2005. More recently, he served as the deputy commander of the Albuquerque Engineer District from March 2010 to Aug. 2012, until deploying to Afghanistan.

Lt. Col. Collins said, “We have this incredibly history in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,” a history that is “integral to the history of our nation and many others.”  This includes the Far East District’s enormous contributions here in South Korea, soon to be commemorated during the district’s sixtieth anniversary.  

Lt. Col. Collins’ own history seems integral with his career in the Army and as an engineer. “In high school, I had a strong math and science background,” he said. He came across engineering while trying to figure out what to do with that aptitude. “Engineering seemed a good fit.”

Though Lt. Col. Collins was an engineering major all through college, deciding to specialize in Civil Engineering wasn’t an immediately obvious choice, but he was eventually led to it by his advisors. That decision was aided by the fact he was attending school on a four-year ROTC scholarship, and informed by internships he did with the Arkansas Highway Department. These experiences helped define his preference for hands-on, outdoor engineering where you can see a structure go from a vision to reality.

Lt. Collins recalled his Officer Basic Course, with its emphasis on “how to be a combat engineer.” Having learned construction engineering in college and combat engineering, it is ironic that his first assignment as a lieutenant was with topographic engineering, and hand-drawing maps which were then mass produced on large printing presses.

This experience instilled in him the versatility that engineer officers must possess--which Lt. Col. Collins called on during multiple deployments where he was responsible for developing engineer training programs for newly established units in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“One of the things I always enjoyed about the military was the chance to get out and experience other cultures and countries,” Lt. Col. Collins said. A self-affirmed “family man,” Lt. Collins said he looks forward to a new aspect of this overseas tour that’s distinctly different from past deployments: sharing this adventure in Korea with his wife and two children.