September 29, 2000
Charles "Charley" Collins,
a WWII prisoner of war, was the guest of honor at Don Diego VFW,
Post 7420, POW/MIA Candlelight Services. The theme for the evening
and throughout the year is "Today, Tomorrow, Always Remembering
In September 1943 while in Italy, Charley's unit encountered the Germans and had them cornered against a mountain. A skirmish occurred resulting in a lot of artillery fire, which triggered an avalanche. Charley and his comrades were buried alive under the snow.
Some did not survive. Those that did were taken captive and placed on freight trains bound for Germany. 19 months as Prisoner of War, mistreated and all Red Cross packages were consumed by the Germans. Like many who were traumatized, he still experiences flashbacks. On April 17th 1945 he arrived in France and less than a month later he was in the States.
Now, after 55 years later Charley is finally receiving recognition for being Prisoner of War by the Don Diego Post.
Among his family and friends, Charley was honored with the POW Medal of Honor handed to him by Post Past Commander Walt Hamilton. Speaking at the event was former POW and Post member Aurilio "Jr." Ortiz.
The Don Diego Post thanks the POW/MIA Chairpersons, Eddie and Mary Carrillo and committee for an outstanding job. "BRAVO"
Story was submitted by Publicity Chairman, Olivia J. Solomon.