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At right, a large group celebrated Women’s Army Corps veteran and war-time medical technician Estelle Tidwell Collins on her 101st birthday. Pictured from the Post 197 Family are commander Paul Chatterton, Bryan Richardson, Stephen Golias, Stefan Huckaby, Tim Dukes, Alford Davis, Bill Weekley and Sons of the American Legion’s Jason Patten.

WWII veteran Estelle Collins honored on 101st birthday

The Pike County American Legion Post 197 hosted a 101st birthday celebration for Estelle Tidwell Collins at her home on Feb. 28, 2023. She is a member of the Greatest Generation and a WWII and Korean War Women’s Army Corps Veteran. 

The program started with a birthday cake presented by the Post 197 Honor Guard. Stephen Golias and the rest of the Honor Guard led in the singing of Happy Birthday. Then members David Kendrick from the Atlanta VA hospital in Decatur, Rhonda Brown from the Veterans Affairs Community Based Outreach Center in Zebulon and those representing the Development and Civic Engagement of the Department of Veterans Affairs presented Estelle with an ornamental cane and certificate. 

The Griffin Marine Corps League Detachment 1196 and Larry Heard presented Estelle with a League coin and a Certificate of Appreciation. The American Legion Post 197 Commander Paul Chatterton presented Estelle with a Legion coin and read a birthday card from Post 197. 

Then Post 197 Historian and Honor Guard member Bryan Richardson read Estelle Collins’ military biography that he had researched and composed. Relatives and friends provided short remarks of congratulations and Estelle provided some comments on what it was like serving in the Women’s Army Corps.

She signed up for the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) on Jan. 18, 1945 during WWII. After completing her basic training at Ft. Oglethorpe, Georgia she was sent to Camp Atterbury Indiana where she completed 12 weeks Army Services Forces Surgical Technician training at the Wakeman Hospital Center.

After training, she was assigned to the Walter Reed General Hospital in Washington, DC. She worked in the surgical ward. As a surgical technician, she administered medications, hypodermics and took temperatures and pulse while caring for military patents. She cleaned and sterilized instruments and prepared swabs and bandages. She requisitioned supplies for individual wards. She maintained records and reports pertaining to the progress of patients. Many of her patients were seriously wounded military members transferred from the various WWII theaters of operations. During her tours of duty, she served in the surgical wards of other hospitals including Oliver General Hospital in Augusta, Georgia and Ft. McPherson General Hospital. In May 1951, she was assigned to the U.S. Army and U.S . Air Forces Recruiting Main Station and Induction Station in Birmingham, Alabama which was close to her home at that time. On Oct. 2, 1951, CPL. Collins received a Letter of Commendation from the Recruiting Command for exemplary service and on Oct. 10, 1951 she received an honorable discharge. During Estelle’s service time she received 6 medals and decorations.

All who were present at the special birthday event promised to Estelle that they would be back for her 102nd birthday celebration.

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