By NEMS Daily Journal
Mississippi marked an important milestone in its distinguished history of military service with the swearing in on Wednesday of Brig. Gen. Augustus L. Collins, a Booneville native, as adjutant general, the commanding officer of the Mississippi National Guard.
Collins is the first African-American to hold the position. He was appointed by Gov. Phil Bryant.
Collins, who was promoted to general in 2005, was commander of the 155th Separate Armored Brigade in Iraq when the unit was deployed during the Iraq war.
The Daily Journal’s exclusive news story on the appointment in Wednesday’s edition noted that the general’s parents, Leroy and Deborah Williams, who live in Booneville, would watch the swearing in on a remote live stream at Northeast Mississippi Community College because they are unable to travel.
Collins is a graduate of Northeast Mississippi Community College, the University of Mississippi, and earned an MBA from Jackson State University and a master’s in strategic studies from the U.S. Army War College, in Carlisle, Pa.
After becoming a general Collins was appointed director of mobilization forces for the U.S. Army Forces Command. He was assistant to the commander and directly responsible for mobilization of National Guard and other reserve units and individuals nationwide.
Collins was named by Gov. Haley Barbour to serve as one of the three commissioners for the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Commission in 2007 after his military retirement.
Collins, in military service, served as the principal adviser for Homeland Security initiatives and actions including planning, sourcing and executing contingency operations in the event of a natural or man-made disaster in the continental United States.
His service in Iraq was exceptional, commanding 4,500 troops against radical insurgents in the hostile area of Iraq known as the “Triangle of Death.” His command included soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen. His command was responsible for security operations in north Babil, Karbala, eastern Al Anbar and Najaf provinces. His command’s actions led to the capture of more than 1,500 terrorists.
Collins was inducted in 2007 into the Ole Miss Alumni Hall of Fame. He holds the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, the Mississippi Magnolia Cross and the Order of Saint George Medallion for excellence in armor.
Collins’ appointment ranks with the governor’s tapping of international entrepreneur and executive Jim Barksdale as interim director of the Mississippi Development Authority. Distinguished Mississippians willing to serve their state in important roles should be asked to lead.