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Not many persons would relish a career in which the threat of death is constant.But Edward Orin Collins is one of the many special men and women who never flinched at the idea of putting their lives on the line in defence of their country.Add the burden of frequently being away from their families for extended periods not knowing if you will see them again and you will see why these men and women are special.We’re talking here about career soldiers, a vocation many of us will frown upon. And Edward Collins can be considered one of Guyana’s most patriotic soldiers.His career spanned decades during which Guyana faced many threats, both externally and internally.There were border skirmishes to the domestic situations, in which all his training and experience were brought to bear.From a Cadet Officer in the early 1970s, he rose to become the head of the Guyana Defence Force and retired as Brigadier General in 2007.Edward Orin Collins was born on September 26, 1952, at No. 40 Village, West Coast Berbice. The sixth child and second son of a policeman, Edwin Collins, and Marjorie Collins, a housewife. He lived his early years in several Police Divisions along the Coast. Most of this time however, was spent in Vergenoegen, East Bank Essequibo, when his father was stationed at Leonora and Parika Police Stations.His first encounter with the military was in the 1960s when he encountered the British soldiers here in Guyana, followed by the Volunteer Corps.But although he had seen the military in two forms, first the white soldiers and then persons like himself (Volunteer Corps) he still was not attracted to the military then.A career in the army was not on Collins’s mind in his formative years, in fact, this confirmed Anglican appeared destined for a career in medicine, although his mother wanted him to become a priest.But economic constraints put paid to those early lofty dreams and Collins soon found himself among the ranks of the employed.His first job was teaching at the St. Jules Anglican School at Blankenburg, West Coast Demerara.He even enlisted in the Teachers’ Training College and at that time it seemed that Collins would have joined the list of distinguished teachers that were a feature at that time of Guyana’s history.But that career was short lived, for it was while at college that the idea of joining the Guyana Defence Force first surfaced for the aspiring teacher.But it was not just the desire to be in uniform that really inspired the young Collins, as he explained it was the higher remuneration that was being offered by the army that struck a chord in his mind.Collins swears before Commander in Chief, President Bharat Jagdeo after being appointed Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force.“I was with some friends and Arlington Success talked about his brief period as a cadet and he indicated that at least you will get more money. What attracted me was, it was fifty dollars from teachers’ training college when compared with $380 being offered by the army. I said let me go for the Guyana Defence Force.”After going through the interview process, conducted by Colonel Ulric Pilgrim and the then Lt Col. Joseph Singh,Cheap Jerseys From China, he joined the Guyana Defence Force at the age of 21, as an Officer Cadet in 1973, and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant on July 24, 1974.But although the training was intense, Collins who considers himself a fitness fanatic came through with flying colours and by then he had grown to love the career he had chosen.“I was being exposed to training to become an officer. Imagine in those days a young 21-year-old giving orders… made quite a lot of sense to me,” he said with a slight chuckle.Then came one of the major turning points in his military career. Collins was one of three members of the GDF to be selected for a special course in China.During that stint in China, he was fortunate to witness the visit of US president Richard Nixon to the socialist country.“We were visiting the Great Wall (of China) together, myself, Colonel Harmon and Andy Worrell. And just being there and being exposed to a man of the stature of Nixon, and living what the Chinese called equality, was overwhelming,”Coming from a small third world country like Guyana and being treated like royalty in China was something that would remain in the memory of the young army Lieutenant.“China lived socialism and we came back home loving socialism because the treatment we received was first class. Everywhere we went, whatever we wanted to do, they treated us well,” Collins said.The China course was organised by the then Prime Minister of Guyana Forbes Burnham and his Chinese counterpart.According to Collins, they were not aware what they were going to do in China and it was not until they were actually there that they realised that the course was specially designed for them.The Chinese exposure was more akin to the state of Guyana at the time, since there were similarities in terms of the equipment used and the way the Chinese military went about their operations.He recalled that being a fitness fanatic in addition to his physical stature, he was able to excel in the area of physical training, so much so that he became the envy of his Chinese counterparts.At one point, the Chinese were so desperate not to play second fiddle to the Guyanese that they brought a man from out of the blue to outdo Collins.“The Chinese will bring an athlete if they thought it was necessary in order to outdo you,” the retired army head stated.Even his name was easy for the Chinese-they called him Co-lin-suAfter returning to Guyana, it was time to buckle down and commit to the task of becoming the best army officer he could be.“I developed a love for the military and when I came back home, I never turned back.”In the mid seventies, Guyana faced many external threats primarily from its eastern and western neighbours and the role of the military, and by extension the young officers, was to be tested.There were also some internal ramblings, which also required the military to be on high alert.In 1975, while the Guyana Defence Force was celebrating its 10th anniversary, the Venezuelans had crossed the border into Guyana.Collins recalled that he and fellow officers were together when the then Prime Minister Forbes Burnham called an emergency meeting.Among those in attendance were Guyana’s Foreign Minister Fred Wills, EV Luckhoo and the Venezuelan Ambassador, who was summoned.“When the meeting was over, Burnham came across to us, the young officers, and said, ‘young officers, you’re enjoying your anniversary but are you prepare to die?’ Immediately we said yes. It was when he moved off that we looked at each other and said, ‘what was it he just said?’ It just goes to show the love we had for him as a leader because he was taking us into something new and most of us bought into it,” Collins reminisced.“But at that time we were prepared and then the Cuban disaster in ’76 we were ready and rearing to go, because we expected an invasion. So there were many short periods of tension,NFL Jerseys Supply, either out of rumour or deliberate moves by the Venezuelans,” he added.Collins said that during that period he was always prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice.Also during his early days as an officer, Collins was exposed to other special training primarily in the United Kingdom, the USA and Canada, where his Chinese experience stood out.His military education and training includes the Company Commander Course -Peoples’ Liberation Army, People’s Republic of China; the GDF’s Junior Staff Course, the Combat Team Commander Course – United Kingdom; the Canadian Forces Staff Course – Toronto, Canada; the Canadian Land Forces Command & Staff Course, – Kingston,Cheap Jerseys China, Canada; the GDF’s Military Law Course; the Civil Military Strategy for Internal Development -Special Operations School of Defence and Development – US Air Force, Fort Walton Beach, Florida; the Command and General Staff Course – Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, USA; the Law of Armed Conflict – Canada; the Advance Continental Defence Course – Inter-American Defense College, Fort Mc Leslie J. Nair, Washington D.C.Brigadier General (retired) Collins is also a graduate of the University of Guyana from which he graduated with a BSoc (Hons) in Public Management in 1996 and of the Central Michigan University, United States from which he graduated in 1997 with a MSc in General Administration.Collins also served overseas as Commander of the CARICOM Contingent during the United Nations Mission in Haiti (UNMIH) from March to September 1995. Then, he became the first Caribbean Officer to command the CARICOM Forces on a United Nations Mission.In addition to international medals from the United Nations, the Brazilian Armed Forces and the People’s Liberation Army, Brigadier General (retired) Collins is the holder of the Military Service Medal, the Border Defence Medal, the Military Efficiency Medal, the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Medal and the Prime Minister’s Medal for the Best Graduating Student in the Diploma of Public Management, University of Guyana.He was a member of the Board of Directors, Guyana Geology and Mines Commission and served as Chief of Guyana’s Delegation to the Inter-American Defense Board from February, 2001 to June 2004.On 3rd April, 2008, he was the first Guyanese to be inducted in the International Officers Hall of Fame at the Command and General Staff College,Cheap Jerseys From China, Fort Leavenworth Kansas, United States of America.The following week, on 9th April, he was inducted not only as the first from Guyana but also the English-speaking Caribbean into the Hall of Honour at the Inter American Defense College, Fort Leslie J. Me Nair, Washington,  D.C. U.S.A. Other inductees of the latter College include the President of Chile, Madame Michele Bachelet who was a student of the Class of XXXVII – two classes before Collins.From a very early stage in his military life, Collins was always aspiring to become the leader of the Guyana Defence Force.“Anywhere I go,Wholesale Nike NFL Jerseys, any organization I join, I always work towards being at the top. If I don’t get there, then it’s tough luck but I will work towards getting there,” he said.But his assent to the pinnacle of the army came with a lot of responsibilities, and according to Collins, it was this period that brought some of the low points of his military career.The first major setback was the death of a young cadet officer during training.Collins believes that as the head of the army, the responsibility to ensure the safety of the Cadets was his, and he was not shy of accepting the responsibility.Also under his watch as Chief of Staff, 33 AK-47s disappeared from Army Headquarters, Camp Ayanganna, and again Collins has accepted responsibility for this.“I was at a meeting when I was informed and we aborted the meeting and launched an investigation and tried to analyse what went wrong. We tried to ensure that nothing else left or disappeared,” Collins said.“It must be a low point for any military commander. How can 33 weapons disappear this wasn’t a question of somebody breaking into the camp, it was something internal. That in itself caused you to do some introspection.  Then you had to go and report to the Commander in Chief.”“He was not harsh.  He helped us sit to work out how to get back the weapons. The first part of the strategy was to ensure that the weapons were not used and that raised the level of military involvement in law enforcement,” Collins said.“As I see it the weapons and the Cadet were entrusted in my care so I have taken full responsibility for the losses on those two occasions. I would thus like to take this opportunity to publicly apologise to the nation.”Collins was categorical in stating that at no time in his military career was there any contemplation of a mutiny or attempt to overthrow an elected government.He said that having been exposed to training in several democratic countries, most of the officers of the Guyana Defence Force were familiar with the military/civilian partnership.Among the officers who had a distinct impact on his military life were Hartley Liverpool, Joseph Singh and Fairbairn Liverpool.But according to Collins, David Granger had the most impact.“He was working with me to change the way we were training our officers; to make him an officer who has responsibility for leading instead of driving and taking of command,” Collins stated.“I was personally touched by the tireless efforts and eagerness of the soldiers and their police counterparts as they continuously worked many days and nights on the various types of joint operations.  They were very vigilant and so highly energised that I drew my own strength from them as indeed I remained steadfast in my belief in GOD.  The losses apart, I think I personally experienced quite a lot of spiritual growth during that period,” Collins explained.Brigadier General Collins is married to Marilyn Bernadette Collins (Director of Food and Drug Department) and has three daughters – Charmayne Shelene, Orlyn Eddiena and Anna Alicia.Of course being a military officer had its impact on family life.However, according to Collins, his retirement could not have come sooner, since it affords him the opportunity to spend more quality time with his family.“As a military officer I found myself being away from my family for too long periods. I was in Haiti from ’94 to ’95. Six days after my marriage I was in Canada, so I didn’t have a second Sunday,” he recalled.But while none of his daughters are militarily inclined, Collins informed that at least he would encourage his grandson to take up the mantle and become a military officer.Presently,Wholesale China Jerseys, the retired Chief-of-Staff spends a lot of time in his private gym and remains in top physical shape despite his age.