MAJ. GEN. Harry John Collins
31st Infantry Division and Post Commander
07 April -- 01 February 1954

Born in Chicago, Illinois, December 7, 1895. After attending Western Military Academy at Alton, Jill,.. and the University of Chicago, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Infantry Reserve and signed to active duty August 15, 1917. He received his Regular commission as a second lieutenant Infantry October 26, 1917, and was promoted to first lieutenant (temporary) the same date.

General Collins' first assignment was with 3rd Infantry, with which he served at Eagle Pass, Texas; Camp Sherman, Ohio, and Fort Snelling Minnesota. In October 1922, he went to Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, for duty with the 19th Infantry,
In May 1925, General Collins entered the Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia. He was graduated a year later and remained at the school as an instructor. In June 1929, he became senior instructor at the Machine Gun School at Fort Ethan Allen, Vermont. The following 'September he returned to Infantry School at Fort Benning to take the advanced course, which he completed in June 1930. He was assigned to the 3rd Brigade at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, where he conducted a machine gun school. He was transferred to the 4th Brigade at Fort Francis Warren, Wyoming, in January 1932, as company machine gun instructor. Six companies which he instructed won the first six places in the National Infantry Machine Gun Competition in 1932.

General Collins entered the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, in Au 1932, and was graduated two years later. He entered the Army War College from which he graduated in June 1935, and assigned to the Chemical Warfare School at Edgewood Arsenal, Maryland.

In August 1935, upon graduation from the Chemical Warfare School, General Collins was assign Hawaii as instructor of the Hawaiian. National Go at Wailuku, Maui, and as commander of the Maui District of the Hawaiian Department Service Command,  including the islands of Molokai, Maui, Lanai, Kahoo-lawe.

In September 1936, he assumed command of Kilauea Military Camp in Hawaii.  In July 1938, General Collins became assistant to Plans and Training officer of the 7th Infantry at Vancouver Barracks, Washington, and commander of the 1st Battalion of that regiment. In March 1939, he was appointed executive officer of the 7th Infantry.  in October 1939, was assigned to the 6th Infantry Division at Fort Snelling, Minnesota, as assistant to Plans and Training officer.

General Collins was assigned in November 1940, to duty with General Headquarters of the Army. The following February, he was appointed intelligence officer of the 11th Infantry Division at Fort Snelling. He went to England as a Military Observer in June 1941, later returning to his assignment with the 11th Infantry Division. He became intelligence officer of the IV Army Corps at Camp Beauregard, in November 1941. In April 1942, he activated the 354th Infantry Regiment and commanded it at Camp Carson, Colorado. In August 1942, he was named. assistant commander of the 99th Infantry Division, at Camp Yap Dorn, Mississippi.

In April, 1943, he assumed command of the 42nd (Rainbow) Division at Camp Gruber, Oklahoma. In December 1944, after a rigorous period of training, tit division was rushed to the Rhine near Strasbourg where it played a major role in stopping the last German drive in the West.

General Collins then reformed his unit and it relieved the 45th Division, Seventh Army, in a defensive position on the Moder River. Jumping off on March 15, 1945, the 42nd attacked through the Hardt Mountains and the West Wall, crossed the Rhine and captured Wurzburg, Schweinfurt, Furth, Donauworth, Dachau, and Munich.

Following V-E Day, the 42nd occupied the eastern Tyrol, then moved into Land Salzburg, Austria. As divisions were deactivated, the 42nd extended its area and took over the entire U.S. Zone of Austria.  In March 1946, General Collins was named military governor of the zone and commander of the troops in the American zone. After the deactivation of the Division the following July, General Collins headed the Zone Command Austria.

In July 1948, General Collins was appointed to command the 2nd Infantry Division of Fort Lewis, Washington. He became commanding general of the New York-New Jersey Sub-Area Headquarters, with station at Fort Totten, New York, in April 1950, and the following January assumed command of the 8th Division at Fort Jackson, South Carolina.

In January 1952, General Collins was assigned to the office of the Military Attaché at Moscow, Russia, with approximately five months temporary duty enroute to the office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence at Army headquarters.

In October 1952, it was announced that General Collins had been assigned as commanding general of the 31st Infantry Division, Camp Atterbury, Indiana.

General Collins has been awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star, Bronze Star Medal, and Army Commendation Ribbon. His foreign decorations include the French Legion of Honor (Order of Chevalier) and Croix de Guerre with Palm, and the Order of the Crown of Italy.

He was promoted to captain (permanent) July 1, 1920; to major (permanent) August 1, 1935; to lieutenant colonel (permanent) August 18, 1940; to colonel (temporary) December 24, 1941; to brigadier general (temporary) October 30, 1942; to major general (temporary) September 22, 1943; to colonel (permanent) January 1, 1947; to brigadier general (permanent) January 24, 1948, with date of rank from June 5, 1944; to major general (permanent) October 1, 1949; with date of rank from February 10, 1947.

Rainbow's Commanding Officer, Major General Harry J. Collins, was profoundly moved by the experience at Dachau. He was very close with our Jewish Chaplain Rabbi (Captain) Eli Bohnen, and called him padre. "Tell me what you need, padre, and I'll see that you get it!" And he did. He provided private housing where the survivors could live on their own. He was a hands-on officer. He made sure they received first class rations, complete medical attention, and he helped Rabbi Bohnen open channels to Jewish groups in the United States. Thus, the survivors received aid that the Army was unable to supply, including kosher foods, religious articles, and money, etc. General Collins went far beyond the requirements of duty. Corporal Eli Heimberg, Rabbi Bohnen's Assistant, was moved to write:

"I often wondered what prompted General Collins to appoint a Jewish Chaplain to The Rainbow. Not all infantry Divisions had a fully assigned Jewish, or even an Assistant Chaplain. Was it because our Division was founded on the premise that our men represented all of America, and we shone over the nation like a Rainbow? Or, was it, perhaps, some intimation of a day to come when he should be prepared for an unusual humanitarian role in the aftermath of the war?"

DACHAU 29 APRIL 1945
THE RAINBOW LIBERATION MEMOIRS

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