Fallen Heroes of Operation Iraqi Freedom

Remembering the servicemembers who died in the service of their country.

Army Staff Sgt. Gary L. Collins

32, of Hardin, Texas.
Collins was riding in a Bradley Fighting Vehicle when it hit an improvised explosive device in Fallujah, Iraq. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kansas. Died on November 8, 2003.

Please send information, photos, and corrections for Army Staff Sgt. Gary L. Collins.


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Leave a message in memory of this servicemember, and/or to the loved ones left behind.

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"RIP Ssg Collins ✝️🇺🇸.
My condolences to the Collins family for your loss.
Joe DeHoyos, veteran NCO
Armed forces of the USA
Joe DeHoyos of Carlsbad, Texas/USA

"See you in the high ground brother.
2-9 FO"
Sgt. Ballard of Marshall

"Just had you on my my mind today Gary! Iíll see you on those streets of Gold one day brother!
Kassie, you and the girls remain in our thoughts and prayers always! All our Love!"
Barry & Joanne of Maumelle, AR

"Happy Heavenly Birthday little brother. I can't believe you would have been 50. You'll forever be 32.....miss you."
Donna Lowder (Sissy) of San Antonio, Texas

"Taylor and Kassie incorporated a beautiful salute to you during Taylor and Matt's wedding. Your boys came through and were standing in the aisle for you. I know you were proud...we sure were. Taylor made a beautiful bride. Now comes another Christmas without you and it still kills me to think that I can't pick up the phone and call my little brother. 2020 has been full of firsts in so many ways but a year that we continued to miss your presence. I love you Bubba."
Big Sis, Donna Lowder of San Antonio

"Just really missing you on this Memorial Day! I love you always and forever!!"
Kassie Collins of Monterey, Texas

"Here is another holiday upon us without you Gary. It doesn't get any easier nor does the pain go away. I see your face at every corner, on every active military servicemen or women that I pass in the grocery store or at a restaurant. We will have Mom with us this 2017 Christmas season and she will get to love on Corbin. He is a doll and I know you are watching over the baby that Kerbie lost last year. Keep her close and watch over all of us and guide us in the direction we should be going. We will take care of your girls and Kassie in the meantime. We love and miss you Bubba.....I will for sure share a Gary/Bubba story this Christmas."
Donna Lowder, Big Sis of San Antonio, Texas

"Gary: Remembering your dedication and love for this country always, but especially this week. Paying the ultimate sacrifice to ensure that all of us have the right to walk, talk and sleep in peace. I imagine how fighting mad you and your brothers are to see the state of our country and election. Please continue to surround us with your love and ongoing protection. Your sister Donna shares pictures of your family with us and they are just lovely and happy and thriving. They took you with them to live out their lives to the best of their ability because of the foundation you gave them. Thank you for your bravery. Thank you for the amazing stories shared by your family. Rest easy soldier."
Kathy Schobinger of Live Oak, TX/US

"Hey Gary, just sitting here getting ready to head to school. I was drinking my coffee, and for some reason started thinking about you. I guess the memories of us in the field and the good time our squad had at Hood, even when it was a suck fest out. I just wanted to say thanks for the blood EIB you gave the me that day in 94. Miss you brother, I'll see you when I see you! RLTW"
Chuck Jones SFC (RET) USSF of Colorado

"I never knew you, but through a miracle, I got to learn about you. Today, I think of your sacrifice and the sacrifice of so many others...today, I celebrate you and pray for blessings beyond understanding for your family."
Tina of Humble, TX

"Gary, miss you man. Never forgotten brother! Though time and miles may seperate us, our thoughts and prayers go out to you and the girls Kassie! All our love!"
Barry & Joanne Schnaitman of Maumelle, AR

"Always a sad day for all of us that were lucky enough to serve with you and call you a friend. Miss you brother and think of you often!"
Justin Hickman of Kennewick WA

"Bubba, this Sunday, November 8th will be 12 years since you were taken from us. This week every year is the hardest time for me even hard than the holidays. I put on a great face at work and at home, I hold my head up as much as I can, I try to distract my thoughts from you, I just struggle throughout the whole dang week. Then the actual anniversary day comes and I think....okay just have a hard cry and things will go back to normal...whatever that is. But I do all that and I relive that day over and over and I still wake up the next day to the reality that you are gone! I wish you were here "little brother" to make me laugh so hard I can't breathe. You were the master of laughter and joking around. I love and miss you so much, words can't describe my anguish. Your memory is all we have along with your girls! It's a real joy being around them and they feel the same about us. I guess we give them great stories about us when we were kids and it makes new memories of you in their minds. Rest easy Brother, your family is doing great and they are beautiful. I love and miss you Gary Lamar!! Nov. 2015"
Donna Lowder, Big Sissy of San Antonio, Tx

"Brother there is not a day that goes by that I donít think of you and that day. I promised myselfÖ if I came back I would try to live life to best that I can. I like to think that I have, and I have many more years to go. I learned a lot from you and itís made me the man I am today. You always said ďTake care of the guys and they would take care of youĒÖ I still live it. 22 May, 2015"

"Bubba, Today is April 16th and I am having a bad day. It's gloomy and raining outside making it that much more of a bad day. Thought I would ask you to watch over me and guide me to make the right decisions I'm facing. You haven't let me down so far so I will be waiting for your guidance. Miss you terribly Little brother and wish everyday you were here to grow old and laugh with. Love you always and I will see you in my dreams."
Love Big Sis, Donna of San Antonio, Tx

"Gary my brother,
I miss you man. Sometimes, I just laugh out loud at some of the things you said or did when we were growing up. Strangely, I was telling Melissa that half the time as I get older I can't remember what I had for breakfast, but all the time I can remember the crazy stuff that made up you. You truly were one of a kind, and I'm proud I got to experience it. I know everyone reading this who knew you knows exactly what I'm talking about. I love you man, We pray for your family, Kassie and the kids all the time. We miss them. See you soon brother."
Benny Brown of Magnolia, Texas

"Another Thanksgiving is about to come around without you and your huge presence. We always talk about the bigger than life stories that you would stand before us and tell us about your travels or some encounter with the bad guys. I hope you will be laughing with us this Thanksgiving and assisting us in making our stories as big and as funny as yours. I love you Little Brother and miss you always. Your are forever in my mind and my heart. See you soon."
Donna Lowder, Big Sissy of San Antonio, Tx

"Every time I think of someone defending our country, I think of your sacrifice, and the sacrifice of your family & friends. Thank you for your dedication, and heroism to our country. Because you served, I enjoy the freedoms and peace at home. Rest easy."
Kathy Schobinger of Live Oak, TX

"Always always always....your in my heart and on my mind. I miss you Gary and I wish you were still here. I fear I will never find love again...it's been a long hard road and I'm gettin old and tired!! I just want to be loved again, loved like you loved me Gary!! Whole, complete, passionate, faithfully love me! I miss that full complete feelin of havin a best friend by my side! ! I'm lonely without you Gary....help me out!!!
I love you always and my heart aches for your absence in our lives!! Uuugghh! ! This time of year sucks!! I want you back!!! *!!"
Your one and only love....your wife...kassie

"Holy crappy this stuff is kinda tough to read :((.....it's been a minute since I've wrote on here...been in one of those grief "phases", for like 2 freakin yrs now!! Uuugghh! I miss you like crazy Gary!! It never changes...tryin like hell to give it all to God (bad use of verbage)....it's hard. ..I miss you!!
Happy Birthday in Heaven!!! Hope I see you in my dreams tonight :))"
your wife of st joseh, Mo

This weekend, May 18th will be your birhtday and we will not forget to celebrate your life and all its accomplishments. Jeff and I will also get to host your family this Memorial Day weekend while they are in Texas. It will be filled with story telling and lots of laughter. Not a day goes by without a thought of you in my head. Happy Birthday Bub!"
Donna Lowder, Big Sissy of San Antonio, Tx

It's been so many years but I think of you often. The times we spent together grading EIB, to goofing off on field problems to making the haunted house on FT Riley. You are a great man and no matter how much time goes by I often tell stories of you. Rest in peace my friend. You will be forever missed."
Michael McCardel(SSG)retired of Weirton,WV

"Gary, you have a wonderful family! I got to meet a lot of them today...8 Nov 2013. I didn't know you, but have learned what you were like from hearing them tell stories about you...they all miss you so much and loved you so dearly. I'm glad I met Kassie at a conference and got to know your family and you. Thank you for your service to our country. The world is a better place because you were in it."
Mary Ward of Williamsburg, Virginia

"I can just imagine your wonderful loving family gathering in your honor this weekend. Typically a very spirited bunch of people, they will have sorrow and re-visit that fateful day. But from what I have heard about you, you will work thru their hearts and they will be laughing and telling stories about their little Bubba and the healing will continue. Thank you for your service. Thank you for being a person I never met, yet know very well because of your families deep and constant adoration of you. I know you still stand post and are protecting all of us with all your power. You wouldn't have it any other way. Rest peacefully."
Kathy Schobinger of Live Oak, TX

"Bubba, this November 8, 2013 will be your 10th year gone from this earth. We as a family will be at your graveside to give all of us a chance to celebrate your life and what you meant to all of us. Ten years have passed but still seems like yesterday when we received the horrible news. Watch over us as we visit you and all of our Heroes that have fallen for our freedom. Love you so much Little Brother."
Donna, Big Sister of San Antonio, Texas

"I have thought of you Kassie over the years. We met you in Texas when Barry and Joanne were stationed at Ft Hood .we celebrated 4th of July with you, I have pictures of Paige Sophie and your girls with sparklers. Gary and Barry were shooting off some "mild" fireworks. Lol. Read about you and your girls on Facebook, my how time flies. God Bless you, and we salute Gary as one of our fallen heroes!"
Diana Schnaitman of Fife, Washington

"Gary, it has been a long time my friend! Praying today as we honor you in what little way we can that God provides Kassie and your girls His Peace knowing and trusting that they will see you again in eternity!"
Barry Schnaitman of Little Rock AR

"26MAY13- I am taking my son to meet you tomorrow, Gary. It will be his first Memorial Day. He will grow up understanding the price you paid for our freedom. You are never forgotten and neither is your sacrifice."

"Gone but not forgotten. Miss you big brother."
Sean Lowry : W6R of elkhart, IN

"Hey Gary just stayed the night with Kassie and the girls last night! I can't believe that Taylor is now 18 and graduating in a couple of months! Landry has your humor and man oh man does she have ya rollin on the floor!! I was up a few weeks ago to watch Taylor's Homecoming game and to see her in her dress with her Crown was just breathtaking!! I was laying in bed and Kassie came in to tell me that it was 11:11 pm last night. Landry, Kassie and I sat together for a couple hours this morning talking about ya and that god awful day and then about some stories that had us all laughing so hard! Heather and Liam were there with us to and we wish that you could have been here to meet the little guy! But we sometimes catch him talking to someone and giggling and we like to think that it's you! We miss you and Love you!!"
Loretta of Wetmore, KS

"Hey Lil Brother, I miss you very much and I see you at every corner or turn of my day. Not a day goes by that I don't think about you or talk to you. I wanted to tell you how proud we are as a family of your family and especially your girls. They are both so beautiful, funny, serious, goofy and all around....just like you! Landry looks like you, acts goofy like you but Taylor thinks like you. She is very quick witted like you. She is a senior this year and we all plan to be in Missouri for her big graduation this May. I know you will be watching from above so give her the strength to walk across that stage holding her head up proud to be you and Kassie's grown up little curly headed girl. We miss you Bubba very much. Thank you for watching over Summer and Daniel during their vehicle accident. The car was totalled but thanks to you they walked away with minor injuries. I love you and will talk with you again soon!"
Big Sister Donna of San Antonio, Texas

"Nine years. You are still part of the family. Next time I come see ya, I will bring a couple beers. You are still remembered and still missed - a true testament to everything that you were..."
Mark of Virginia

"My love, it's hard to believe its been 9 years without you! Not a moment goes by that the girls and I don't miss your presence!! We have some major milestones coming up with Taylor and we all wish you were here to share in them with us. I have struggled all these years to be dtrong and be both a mother and a father without someone to lean on that truly loves me. I have done a pretty good job with our girls, but its been one hell of a job to go it alone. It kills me to hear the girls cry about you not being here to celebrate their achievements in life (and there have been so many)! The older they get the more they realize how devestating out loss has been!! It breaks my heart to see them hurt for their daddy they never really got a chance to know very well. We know you are with us cause you make your presence known, but its just not the same!! Time does not heal wounds!! Each day brings new challenges to deal with and they are always still missing your presence and influence! We deal pretty good for the most part, but its still tough and sad! We miss you Gary and always will!! God rest your beautiful soul and God keep us strong!! Thank you for our girls and your legacy!! Until we meet again...I love you!!
Your wife"

"Gary, I saw you and your wife just before your deployment at Silverados in Manhattan. I remember making plans to go have a drink when you got back. When I heard the news, I was in total shock. Out of all the NCO's, I remember you the most. You were never in my chain of command, yet you were always there for some friendly advice for me whenever I needed it. You were a great soldier, and more importantly, a great man. You left your mark on every soldier that you served with. You're still not forgotten."
Greg Little of Roanoke, VA

"Happy 41st birthday today Gary!!! Wish you were still here to see your girls and how amazing they have grown up to be!!! I know you watch over us, but its unfortunately not the same as having you alive, here with us!! We love you and miss you every second of every day!! Your death has left a whole in our lives but we struggle to continue this life and make it meaningful!! We love and miss you SFC Collins today and everyday!!"
Your wife......Kassie

"Sean Lowry, Gary was like a big brother to me. I raise my children at the standerds that he held me to. I've been inspird by Gary for the last 14 years on how a man should be... how to take resposobility, how to own up to your own mistakes...How to realize the greater good...The truth be known, America was built and created by people like Gary. People were willing to give themselves for the greater good of americia. Better to bring the fight to them,,, than them to bring the fight to us...SFC.Collins 1998..."
Sean Lowry of Elkhart, IN

"8 yrs today and every minute has been tough, sad, empty, bittersweet! I have been skimming thru life without you, watching our girls grow up, trying to keep myself busy/move on with life but all my efforts (or maybe lack there of)seem to end in failure. I have been strong, but im beginning to feel weak. I never imagined losing you would effect me in soooo many facets of my life. Its a part of every breath I take, ever present and so painful....still. You were my perfect fit and we made each other better and I hate that I will never have that again and its not freakin fair!!! I miss you and I wish this day, 8 years ago, never happened.....maybe this was the path to the girls having a better life and that has definately taken place....I know how important that was to you, but I didnt want any of it WITHOUT YOU! I know I will wake up in the morning and continue on with living and raising these amazing girls of ours.....perhaps I will call SOS and let them help me find a program to be part of....get a new counselor to talk to. I gotta lot of frustration to get out....again. I wouldnt need so much mental health supprt if you were still here with me. I wish I could at least be a little psychic so I could feel you around me, but Im not so all I got is my dreams. I love you so much and will never be the same, still 8yrs later im struggling to find myself with out you! This day sux!!!"
your lost wife/widow

"...like it was yesterday...
...hard to imagine that you have been away for eight years already..."
Mark Ostrowski

"Hello Gary: You remember me, I am a friend of Donna's. Got to see your girls and Sydney's graduation party. They are just lovely. They made me laugh. You were in all conversation it seems. Sad thing is they wanted you there so badly and you couldn't. On another note, you must be so proud of Donna and the job she has done with her girls. Syd is off to college and thriving. Kerbie is out there making her way. And you know Donna....she is always up to something...learning, fixing, growing.
I am thinking of your family always, but especially right now. The loss is still so great. Get in there close to them and hold'em tight. Peace."
Kathy Schobinger of Live Oak, TX US

"Kassie, as the girls are approaching the age for college soon, I wanted to make sure you are aware of all the benefits they have. I retired 4 years ago and now manage the training of the education programs for the Army National Guard. Joanne, I and our four children live in Little Rock AR. You can look up Joanne on facebook as I rarely check mine. You remain in our thoughts and prayers! God Bless!"
The Schnaitman's of Little Rock, AR

"Damn-it Gary!.....getting ready to retire....we were supposed to do * together....golf, hunt, i'd even let you tell me about Texas...Again!.....I miss you bro, I am so sorry...miss ya...."
MSG David Kusko of Schweinfurt Germany

Today, May 18th, you would have turned 40 years old. We should all be together celebrating but instead we had to wonder what you would look like and how you would enjoy our joking about you aging. Happy Birthday Bub! Know that not a day goes by without your family thinking of you and wishing you were here with us. I love and miss you!"
Donna, Big Sister of San Antonio, Texas

"This message is for all the soldiers (those I know and those I dont)that where a part of Gary's life. In a few days (Feb. 8) we would have been married for 19 years......i have been sad for awhile now and cant seem to shake it!! One would think it would be better after 7 years but, NOT ME!! So, I ask Gary's fellow soldiers to please reach out to me!!! I miss yall soooo much, the lifestyle, the family like bonds we all had together when Gary was still alive. Now I have NONE of it and I cant express how much it sux!!! Being a civilian is not as rewarding as being and army wife!!
I know a bunch of yall come on here to reflect so please email me or look me up on facebook and keep in touch!! If not for me, then do it for Gary!!! Yall know He would have done it for one of your loved ones!! I desperately need some ARMY back in my life!! I miss yall!!
kkctexas@yahoo.com or kassie collins on facebook
love and miss yall,
Kassie Collins"
Kassie Collins of Saint Joseph, Mo

"SFC Collins, I just graduated Ranger school! I hope you are proud. Thank you for everything."
SSG Hodge of Schofield Barracks, Hawaii

Its been almost 16 years since I saw you. We served together in Baumholder- the crappy posting we had in Germany, where i think you and Kassie had a place in Pirmasans? I think that was it. Ill never forget you, and think of you often. Ive looked for you on the internet many times since then, and just this morning added 'Beaumont' to a search. I remember you telling me about Beaumont when I was a cherry, and how great a place it was. You tried to get me to let you drive my Humvee, but i was under strict orders not to. Like-"Dont let Collins drive this truck" I remember going to the UCOFT with at all hours o the night. SSG Ngobeh telling me to sponge off you, and watch how you did things. I speak of your lessons often to my Soldiers now, and I swear I can still hear your voice all these years later. I remember you and Roberts playing tricks on Owens at French Commando School, you Kiwi'd his PC and ruined it. Schnaitman tried to be pissed, but it was friggin hilarious.
I have some pictures of you in France, and probly a couple more in germany. Ill leave my email address so if Kassie wants them, or your mom or someone like that would like them they can have them.
miss you bro, and thanks for all the lessons."
Dan Regan of Wayland Massachusetts

"everyone still misses you soo much, and november 8th just passed making everyone remember that all of this is so real, i miss kassie and the girls, also i really hope to come to arlington cemetery soon to see you, <3"
kelsey holley of magnolia, texas

"Gary it has been 7 long years since you left us all. Every year on this date brings back the memories of that horrible day. I spent a day with Kassie and the girls last week for landrys cheer competition and had a chance to spend sometime with them afterwards for lunch. We talked about you and that night and the girls started to ask questions and how strong I was for being able to keep all of this from them. Little did they know that Kassie threatened me if I didn't! LOL I wasn't strong I was scared and in shock. I wanted to protect them as I still do to this day! Gary, the girls are becoming such great women! You would be proud of Kassie at the wonderful job she has done with them! Gary keep your arms around each one of them through this journey and know that they would trade any minute of it to have you back in their lives!! You are still extremely missed and extremely loved!"
Loretta of Wetmore, KS

"Wow...this night (the 7th anniversary) has caught me offguard all the sudden. Oh Lord how it still hurts Gary. I was ok until i started reading all the comments on facebook and then came to this website to talk to you. I cant believe it has been 7 years....I look at the girls everyday, how their growing up soooo fast, how beautiful they both are, how wonderful they are, they are both such good people gary, you would be so proud. Sometimes I feel sad because i have had to and will continue to have to be mama and daddy and they are really good people but no one ever tells me ive done a good job and i wonder if they are gonna be ok when they leave me in a short few years. I hope you not being here and me raising them by myself works out ok. im rambling i know....im sad right now and feeling sorry for myself. i read the letter from the Lt. that told your mom and dad. I feel really sorry for him and hope he contacts me somehow so we can talk. i feel terrible for all the soldiers that were there that day and those that have experienced loss of their own due to this war. I couldnt imagine what they have to deal with every day....it makes me sad to think of the terrible memories they must have forever burned in their brains. I wish i could give them all a huge hug and talk with them about their feelings and daily struggles. We all hurt in different ways because you left us too soon. We all struggle with feelings and memories, good and bad, about you and our relationships with you. You were such a strong presence and made such an impression on everyone you came in contact with. I am so grateful for the years we had together, the beautiful girls we made and the marriage/relationship we shared. I often fall asleep at night remembering the good times we had (sometimes the bad too). We do pretty good these days, but still miss you terribly at times. We have learned to live again but not cause we wanted to, cause we have to. There are so many 1sts coming up for the girls that you should be here for....be with us when they happen and it would be great if you could show us you are around. I hope i can deal ok when these special things happen cause it makes me sad that you wont be here to torment their dates and greet them at the door in your underwear and gunbelt. We have had a comfortable life so far and many wonderful opportunities that will only continue, but I would give it all back in a heartbeat to have you alive!!!! I miss you...ur smile, ur laugh, ur ocd ways, the way u made fun of me, the way u loved me, the way u made me mad and drove me crazy...i miss it all cuz you were the best. I know everyone that has lost their husbands say the same thing, but you really were the best and we had overcome so much to have an amazing marriage. God, i love you and will continue to do my best to live a life that will allow me to be with you again in Heaven. I love you forever Gary and wish you had never died!

Monday November 8, 2010....7 year anniversay of your death in Fallujah, Iraq."
Your wife Kassie Collins

"To my uncle, you have been on my mind a lot lately! I'm not too sure why.. but you have! And oddly, it has been a year almost to the day since the last time that I wrote on here! As I sat here reading every single comment that all of these people left for you and our family, I realized that you were a hero to waaaaayyy more people than I could have imagined! You were such a wonderful person!!! I love you and miss your smiling face!

I also realized that your's and Kassie's anniversary was February 8th.. a weird coincidence is that February 8th of 2008 was the day that I found out I was pregnant! Amazing how things work! :)

I love you!"
Katrina Leo of Jasper, TX

"gary, it sucked watching my momma cry the day of your birthday & she misses you just as much as everyone else..the loss of you has changed everyone's lives, including mine! i can honestly say that you're one of my heros and knowing that you fought for our freedom gives me hope for america.. november 3rd changed everyone's lives and they'll never be the same, i still pray for kassie and the girls..landry looks just like her daddy too! i also still have the beenie baby she gave me yearss ago when they came to texas ): we miss you and i hope you look down on your loved ones.. i just watched a video of soldiers surprising their family members when they come home, i wish that could have been you too

this isn't fair, he can't just take you from us! so many still hurt, every single day.. ): it's not right, but i also have to realize that the job you had was risking your life and risking everything you had, and we love you

gary lamar collins, lost but never forgotten"
kelsey holley of magnolia, texas

"To the Lieutenant that made the death notifications to our parents on Gary's behalf: As Gary's oldest sibling, our family commends you on your bravery and the difficulty that you face on a daily basis with your job duties. I recently watched a movie called "Taking Chance" and I gained a new respect for the job that you and the escorts do for our fallen loved ones. I personally want to thank you for everything that was done by you for our family. Mom said you were very sincere and she appreciated it very much. Gary died doing what he loved best other than being a father and husband. When my mom called my home in San Antonio and told me that Gary had been killed, I too already knew since that morning. I felt it all day long. There is nothing anyone can do or say to ease the blow of such a tradegy and such a great loss. You did the best with the information that you were given. We all have our memories of that dreadful November day and each memory has sorrow and humor in those memories. So, I hope that you do not "beat yourself up" any longer. I thank you from the bottom of my heart and will always think of you."
Donna Lowder of San Antonio, Texas

"Mrs. Collins,
I served in Iraq with Gary and I had the privilege of meeting you just prior to our deployment to Iraq. I stepped into the shopette in across from the golf course at Ft. Riley and Gary briefly introduced us. I always looked up to Gary and thought of him as my hero, and role model for all things Army. Your husband's sense of humor and kind nature are the two things I remember most. I wear a bracelet that bears Gary's name, and will always remember him.

God bless the Collins Family"
John C. Platt of Lincoln MO

"Gary I love and miss you. I have been here and cried many times but this is the first time to write. There is not a day that I dont think of you. I knew you were a lifer back when we were just PFC's. Thank you for my FREEDOM. You will always be my best man."
Cheston Loving of Ptown Texas

"Memorial Day 31 MAY 2010- Gary Lamar Collins, I have never forgotten your name. I saw your death on the news that morning before I knew it was you. I was the unprepared lieutenant who had to tell your mother you had died. She was the first to know. We couldnít find your wife. I brought your mother to her knees. I spent half a day driving around, waiting for the people at Fort Riley to find your wife, but they didnít. I was in your Momís yard when she pulled up in her truck. I felt like a thief for stealing you away from her. She had this wonderful dream of a home, a log cabin, lots of lush, green land with horses and cows. I was there, a trespasser and a thief. Iím sorry I broke her heart and Iím sorry I left her alone, but I had to go find your Dad too. It was my Dadís birthday that day. I never forget the date. Iím sorry I was so unprepared to tell them about the loss of you. I had to ask your mother for a contact number for your wife. I had to report the number up the chain. I found out you had kids. Your mom was strong. She said she already knew. She said she knew in her heart and thatís why they went to go see you before you left for Iraq. I drove to your fatherís house in Sam Rayburn. It was already dark when I got there. I couldnít find his house. I had to call him for directions. How embarrassing, how shameful. Your sister was there also. I canít believe how unprepared I was to face them, to steal you from them. They would have thought you alive and been fine if not for me and Iím sorry I took you away from them. Your Dad tried so hard to be good to me, to be sympathetic for what I had to do. Heís a good man. Your sister had been crying a lot. I didnít even have a copy of the report to give them. I failed them horribly and Iím sorry.
I visited your grave in Arlington Memorial Day of 2004. Your father had mentioned to me that you wanted to be buried there. You were in the last row of a new section then. This is when my family first met you. I went back to see you just after Christmas of 2005, January of 2007, and Memorial Day of 2007, Veteranís and Memorial Day 2008.Your grave had grass. I think there were four or five new rows beyond yours last time I visited. We laid flowers at your grave and I apologized over and over in my head and in my heart for the disservice I did your family. It seems the number of people we visit at Arlington keeps growing. Iím sorry you were the first.
Your death is something I have kept at the forefront of my efforts to remind me that I've only had to give some, but my some should be all of my very best in your honor because you gave all. I wonít forget how unprepared I was, but there was no way I could know how difficult this duty would be. You deserved better and I have been working my whole career to make amends. I can only hope it will be enough. I think of you and yours often and I will visit you again when I go home."
CPT, US Army of Baghdad, Iraq

"I met SFC Collins and SSG Vasquez @ Fort Riley when i was just a joe. They always led by example. They always led the way. It was them that motivated me to go to Ranger School and be the NCO I became. I lead the the way they did. I was there the day they died. I will never forget. To Mrs, Collins. I had a chance to meet you upon my return. I still pray for you and the family, as well as Vazquez's family. Memorial Day is coming upon us. My soldiers, always ask why I am the way I am? I tell them, I had two high speed Ranger's leading the way. Most importantly, no one will no how much they meant to me with the little time I had to serve with both Collins and Vazquez. They were always full of life and I really looked up to them. When I left Kansas for Washington, I swore to uphold the same mental attitude.
I will never forget. Ranger's lead the way, "all the way".
SGT Fager, Benjamin M."
SGT Fager, Benjamin of Fort Lewis, Washington/usa

"Gary, First of all it's been all these years and we still MISS you!! I want you to know that Heather was in a rollover accident this past weekend and I know you were there protecting her as she went through it. I want to thank you for being the Angel with her and keeping her safe! There isn't a day that goes by that we don't think of you! Miss you bunches!!"
Loretta of Kansas, USA

""To the family of Gary L.Collins ,I am so sorry for the loss of your love one.He died a hero defending freedom. May you know the peace and understanding that only comes from God. Hopefully we will all meet in Heaven one day where we will rest in the arms of Jesus. If you need someone to pray with you or talk to please call or write my pastor at Gateway Community Church,Rev John B Pearrell 11677 Brown Bridge Rd. Covington Ga. 30016 phone 770-787-1015""

"Hey Baby boy,, had you on my mind alot today,, well everyday actually,, you seem to just follow me around wherever I am. Saw a Yellow Rose Tree today,, I know how much you liked them "Yellow Roses of Texas". By the way,, I am sure you had to be with us at Kerbies Wedding,, it was all so beautiful,, thought about you then when I saw Anthony in his uniform,, gave your old Mom a shock when he got out of the car. I love you and miss you every moment of every day,, Mama"
Saundra D. Fontenot of Lake Sam Rayburn, Texas

SFC Collins did in fact touch a lot of lives while he was with us. I am proud to say that I was one priviledged enough to have known him. I was introduced to SFC Collins as my first Squad Leader when I entered service in Nov, 1998. I learned alot from him throughout my time at Fort Riley. I remember serving with him while deployed to Bosnia. He would always make the time go by with his funny stories he would tell from back home in Texas. My favorite story he always told was that of his Horse kicking his father. I can remember him fighting the umpires during Softball tournaments for our team, eventually getting ejected. That was definitley Gary, always fighting for what he belived in and standing up for his Soldiers. I can honestly say that I would not be the NCO I am today without the mentorship I gained from SFC Collins. RIP Brother, you are dearly missed.
"Iron Rangers"
SFC Stephen M. Cabana
SFC Stephen Cabana of Fort Carson, Colorado

"I never knew SFC Collins, I knew a boy named Gary. He was my cousin briefly by marriage, but family just the same. We would spend holidays together at one place or another. At the beach we would try to catch crabs without gettin' pinched! Look for sharks teeth,(oh yeah, I finally found one!). When y'all would come to our house we would sneak off and see who could ride my Shetland Jayco the longest without gettin' thrown or kicked(but ended in a whippin), Or the time we snuck off to the hay barns across the street to play in the tunnels we built(another whippin'!). Till this day, every time I fall asleep with a fan on, I think of those family vacations at Crystal Beach, we would try to camp outside but the mosquitoes would always chase us back in!
I wish I could have known Gary the man, but at least I had the Honor of knowing Gary the adventurous kid! You were always kind enough to let me go first, just in case we got caught I would be the one in trouble! lol! I've often wondered what ever happened to you, your sisters and Mother, now, sadly, I know...
From reading all these kind words about you I see you grew to be a strong and gifted man with a beautiful family! From the plastic soldiers we used to play with to the Soldier you grew to be, you've touched many lives in your time here on this world, and that takes a special person!

Cousin Summer (Thank You for hunting me down, to much time has passed and we shouldn't let anymore slip away!), Aunt Saundra (yes, I still consider you my Aunt), Donna, Kellie, Kassie and the girls, I'm sorry for your loss. I understand your pain, my brother Rodney passed away September 29, 2003.....

I Love You All!"
Mike Guidry mike@gcsvs.com of Austin, Texas

"Uncle Bubba I was just thinking about you today, I miss you a lot! I remember one of the last times I saw you and that was when you came to the house and I cooked those steaks...You said that it was the best steak you've ever had.....I'd give anything to be able to cook you a steak again.... Taylor and Landry are growing up so fast, everytime I see them theres something different about them, this last time was their hair ha ha ha they look so beautiful with it darker! And Aunt Kassie is always happy and LOUD when she comes down...I can never wait for her to visit shes always making everyone laugh!.... I wear my bracelet every day not only in honor of you but because I feel as though it brings me good luck, or maybe your just giving the me good luck from up there. But I feel proud whenever someone asks me about my bracelet because I get to tell them about my uncle and how wonderful he was. Im thinking about you always!
See you in my dreams, Love you!"
Madde Shellhammer of Jasper, Texas

"13 November, 2009
Kassie, I spent a Saturday with Gary this fall as I now work for a Government Contractor and I was in DC. As the Senior Trainer for Education Programs, I need you to touch base with me and Joanne as I have some important information regarding education benefits for the kids for you. My office e-mail is still my ako:
May God provide you and the children an abundance of Grace on this aniversary and during this Holiday Season!
God Bless!
Barry, Joanne, Paige, Sophie, Chloe and Little Barry Schnaitman"
Barry Schnaitman of Little Rock, AR/USA

"...visited gary this past weekend...

six years later and i still think about you, ryan, and mark. you are all still missed.

(if anyone would like a photo of the site, send me an email at mostrows@nsf.gov - be sure to put "gary" in the subject line)"
mark ostrowski of washington dc

"Hello Gary,
I had lunch with your sister Donna today. You know, I am amazed with her grace, humor and endurance. But, I still think she could use a little boost up from her bubba right now. Take a little extra time and surround her with your warmth and strength.
I can imagine your family and their heavy hearts as another anniversary comes around. My heart goes out to them and I pray that God speeds comfort to them.
My son recently joined the Air Force Reserves. It changes a boy into a man but quick! If you have a chance to touch him with some of your bravery and committment, I would be so ever grateful. Peace."
Kathy Schobinger of Live Oak , Texas

"I love you and miss you terribly Bubba!"
Madde Shellhammer of Jasper, Texas

"It has taken me 5 years since I learned of SFC Collins' passing to bring myself to comment. He was my first Team Leader after basic in C Co 2/5 Cav at Ft. Hood. I did my first enlistment then got out, so I somehow didn't feel like I deserved to comment on the site of such a hero. I don't say that term lightly. SFC Collins truly was a leader, and the way he made his soldiers inspired to make it through any of the tough times, and smile at the same time was magic. He was a REAL soldier, and it even stood out among other soldiers. It was the way he carried himself, and the look in his eyes, that showed he always was someone you could count on. And although I have lost several other friends that I have served with since his passing, SFC Collins' death hit me the hardest. He wasn't someone who was in the Army as a "career", he was truly a great soldier. My memories of his strength and attitude continue to inspire me, even though it has been 14 years since I last saw him. I can still hear his laugh. When I read all of the comments on this site, it all rings so true to my memories, that it is clear that everyone he touched in his life came away as a better person for having known him. I hope his daugters read all of these comments, and can get a greater understanding of how truly important their father's life was to everyone he met. I have 4 daughters, and it seems like there are some days that they act like they can't stand me. It is on those days that I occasionally think of SFC Collins, and gather my strength to make it through another day as a dad....
SFC Collins, I appreciate the time I was able to serve with you, and I will never forget you."
David Stahl of Lott, TX

"With November 8 just around the corner and our 20 year highschool reunion on November 6....Ive been thinking about you ALOT!! I feel you around me alot lately too....youve been visiting me in my dreams and as great as it is to see you and spend a little time with you, it just makes my heart hurt (still). I am going home to see all our highschool friends in a few weeks. Although im excited to see everyone, I know its gonna be bittersweet cause your not there with me. Plus we will be celebrating on the 6th anniversary of your death, so I know you will be there with us. I love you Gary and I still miss you terribly! I just felt like getting some pent up emotions out today and talking to you on here...although the girls and i have been doing really well you not being here with us SUCKS sometimes!! I love you always Gary and dont stop visiting me.....I still love to see you and feel you in my life (even if it is only in my dreams), I will take whatever I can get!!"
Kassie Collins of St. Joseph, MO

"SFC Collins, It has been awhile but i still find myself looking you up and reading what everyone has posted. I think of you often and pray for your family. Thanks for all your sacrifices you are an american hero."
SSG Hodge of Sharqat, Iraq

"Uncle Gary, although we didn't see eachother much, I miss you dearly!! I remember the last Christmas that I spent with you... I remember that your dogs slept in Grammie and Granddad's garage and one of them snored so loud that it rattled the pictures on the walls and we all laughed so hard! I remember Santa Clause(Granddad) delivering presents and we were all so excited! That is the last memory I have of you because, unfortunately, I didn't see you again after that. When I heard the news, it didn't hit me right away... then, the next day on my way to school, I cried and cried and cried because I realized that 1, I hadn't seen you in a lloooonngg time.. and 2, I wouldn't see you again for who knows how long! I finally got over it, realizing that our family and I should be happy and just know that you're in a much better place! You are often in my thoughts and every Memorial Day, Gary Day, and November 8... I pray harder than ever and am happy that you're in heaven! I haven't seen Kassie, Taylor and Landry in a really long time but the last time I did, we all had a really great time! I have just recently become friends with Taylor on Myspace and she has turned out to be soo beautiful! I wish I could see them more often! Especially after seeing this site! You are such a hero to me and many others! I love you and miss you soooo much, Uncle!! Thank you for all you did for us!

Kassie, I miss you and the girls! I would like to see you soon. Maybe you'll come to Kelly's for Thanksgiving and we can see eachother (if not before then). You haven't gotten to meet my son and my other half yet and I would really like you to! I miss you and love you! Yall are in my prayers! God bless! (8-28-09)"
Katrina Leo of Jasper, TX/USA

"My name is Madde Shellhammer and Gary "Bubba" was my uncle, I miss him every day and pray that I never forget him, he was my mom's only brother and if I could bring him back then I would do whatever it would take to do so.
Thank you all for your prayers and for thinking about our family for the past years. I Love you Bubba and miss you so much!!!"
Madde Shellhammer of Jasper TX

"My name is Joy and I'm a friend of 'Lis Sis' Summer. She and I talked about Gary and my uncle who died in the line of duty (Louisiana policeman) a few years before Gary did. We had found a picture online of a group of soldiers praying together and thought that one of them was you. We spent some time trying to track down the source of the picture and photographer to see if it was in fact Gary, but it turned out not to be him. Summer and I still 'talk' online and I'm glad she sent me this link. Our fallen soldiers AND their families should not be forgotten. You ALL made the ultimate sacrifice

Kassie, I hope you continue to heal. Its obvious that your relationship with Gary was strong and you will always have that bond with him. You will always find strength in your memories of him and in the legacy of your two girls.

Mrs. Saundra, I know your pain very well. I lost two sons earlier this year and the pain haunts me each day. Thank you for the sacrifice of your son, however unwilling, to our nation. He was obviously raised right, because to believe in something greater than oneself to the point of self sacrifice...that's love. And the only way to show that love is to have been shown that love.

Summer, thank you for sharing your memories of Gary with me. I am honored to have known him through you. He must have been a wonderful big brother to have such devoted sisters."
Joy Guidry Boudreaux of Breaux Bridge, Louisiana/USA

"Hello Gary,
I never got the chance to meet you, but, I know you through your sister Donna. She speaks of you often and tells such great stories of you as a goofy brother and then as a heck of soldier. Recently she gave me a bracelet to wear in your honor. I find myself rubbing it for strength and realize that things I go thru never compare to the price you paid and what your girls are missing. Thank you and your buddies that left with you for the freedom that your protected."
Kathy Schobinger of Live Oak, Texas, US

"Little Brother, today would have been your 38th Birthday. Today, I woke up thinking about you and what today would have been like with you here. There is so much we would have done as a family, especially getting together for the upcoming Memorial Day. Kassie called this weekend and said that Taylor had made High School Cheeleader. What an excited kid she was. Please continue to watch over them. I love you bubba, Happy Birthday."
Big Sissy, Donna of San Antonio, Texas

"Gary...i only knew you for the short time in iraq...i remember our conversations out back my texas brother...you called me coon-azz..lol. Always had a comeback or just a smart-azz comment...its been 5 years and there isnt a morning that i wake that you and all my others buds dont cross my mind..i honored you and my other brothers with your names tatooed on my back...because i know youll always have it. that day on the freeway was a horrible day.i feel so fortunate serving with you at FOB mercury. i always do my best to make damn sure no one forgets. love ya brother
robert miller (sgt miller ..med retired) robert_miller_jr90@yahoo.com"
robert miller of gillette wyoming

"Gary thaks for the memories, thanks for being the role model I needed when i was a young man, thanks for being a soldier any soldier would want to be, thanks for being a shoulder to cry on when life got hectick, thanks for being the platform of honor to raise my kids by, god bless you and you will always live on in my heart and mind. THANK YOU..."
SEAN LOWRY of Elkhart, IN

"My condolences to Gary's family. I will miss him very much. He was a great guy who was always quick with a joke. I, for one, will miss you, Ranger.

Always Ready, Brother!

SGT Carl Lombard of Bow, NH

"I served with Gary many years ago in Co. Co. 2/5 Cav. I remember him well and was very sad to hear the news of his passing. Gary was like an older brother to me while we served together. We had some great times out in the field. He was so much fun to be around. His mentorship contributed to who I am today. I am proud to say I served with him and will cherish his memory forever.

Goodbye brother. Thank you for being a part of my life. I will visit you in Arlington the next time I head home."
Anthony Collier of Kyle, Texas

Wow!! It's been quite awhile since ive looked on here, much less written. I guess that's a good sign of forward progression in the grieving process?! Oh, who the hell knows what is good or bad when you loose your husband and best friend. But, as you well know, things have been good lately. I know I still have a long way to go but it is getting better and the happy days and feelings are finally beginning to outnumber the crappy ones!! But.......we..I..still miss you so much! I get to looking at your pictures sometime and I swear its not real. We still hang your stocking up at Christmas.....doesn't seem right if it's not there. Oh and these girls,,,these wonderful girls!! They are a blessing to me and are sooooo great! We did good babe!
I am grateful for all that I have learned over the last 5 years, all the experiences (good and bad), and of course you everlasting presence in our lives! I LOVE YOU GARY and ALWAYS WILL!"
Kassie Collins of St. Joseph, MO

"Thank you SFC. Collins for everything you did for me and for everyone in the company."
Spc. John Bean of Silver Spring, MD USA

"November 8, 2008
To the family of Staff Sgt. Gary L. Collins:
Gary gave the ultimate sacrifice and will be held in the hearts of Americans forever. I cannot and will not let our fallen heroes be forgotten. My deepest sympathy to you. "Some gave all."
Peggy Childers
"Don't Let The Memory Of Them Drift Away"
Peggy Childers of Carson City, NV

"5 years brotherÖ.. To this day I still think of you guys. Just a few of us can say weíve met our hero or heroísÖ.. Gary, Mark, and Ryan are mine. They left such a lasting impression on all of us, even after passing away it feels like they are still here with us.
I just want all of you to know that Gary, Mark, and Ryan died doing what they loved to do. I was with them the day of the tragedy, and I can bet my life today. If any of them three had a chance to change any sequence of events leading to that moment and knowing what was going to happen, they would not change a thing. Thatís why today I live my life being thankful and grateful for what I have achieved and still achieving.
I Will Never Forget"
SFC Garcia of FT Benning, GA.

"Here it is 5 years today I'm sitting here at work thinking about you. I still wish that you were here with us. We all miss you very much! You will never ever be forgotten. Love and Miss you!! It's an honor and a privlege to have been a part of your life and still am. I don't get to see Kassie and the girls as much as I use to. Every chance I get I'm up there with them."
Loretta of Wetmore, KS

"With the 5th Anniversary date of Gary's death coming soon, it will be a very somber day for all of us who knew or loved him. My husband, Jeff recently visited his grave in Arlington, Va. The leaves were just in the beginning stages of turning the fall colors just like November 25, 2003 the day we laid him to rest. Even though Gary and Jeff never had the chance to meet, the time in the cemetary was an honor for Jeff to be in the presence of many great soldiers who had fallen in combat.

To my dear friend, Kevin Jones, Austin, Texas, your words are so kind. You have always been a great friend to me and now I know that you are a TRUE friend to me. Remembering my brother every November with prayer is very special to me and my family. I hope you visit this site again to read this message and just know that I love you dearly and think of you and your safety often.

Gary, we love you and miss you every day."
Donna Lowder (Big Sis) of San Antonio, Texas

"I didnt know Gary but I was good friends with his big Sister Donna. I worked with her at the Police Department in Live Oak, Texas. I remember looking at pictures of him with her just before he deployed. Donna was so proud of him and her love for him was overwhelming. SFC Collins died just before I left Live Oak PD in Nov. 03. The Police Chief sent out a page to let all the troops know what had happened. I was so shocked I drove, on duty in a patrol car I might add, straight to Donna's house to give my respect. It seemed the least I could do...
Shortly after he arrived in the sandbox, Donna received a few pictures from him of he and his soldiers. She didnt know it but I printed those pictures just before I left Live Oak to work in Austin. I carried Garys picture with me in my pocket everyday for 7 months during the Police Academy. When things got a little rough or if I felt sorry for myself, I would look to that picture for inspiration. That picture was so faded by the end of the Academy you cardly tell what it was of. Hard to believe its been almost 5 years now.
I remember Gary every November and say a prayer for him and all of his family. His wife and little girls and Donna too..."
Kevin Jones of Austin, Texas

"Happy belated birthday baby!! The girls and I talked about you all day and I played 2 awesome softball games!! I love you so much and miss you even more..........your 32 years here were just too damb short!
I love you always and forever Gary!
Kassie of St. Joseph, Mo

"To all of Gary's army buddies,
Yall please drop me a line........I really miss being a part of your lives!! Yall keep me close to Gary and I need that!! You can find me on myspace under "Misplaced Texan", or email me at kkctexas@yahoo.com.
Hope to hear from some of yall soon!
Kassie Collins, proud army widow of SFC Gary L Collins, KIA 11-08-03 Fallujah, Iraq"
Kassie of St. Joseph, Mo

"Hey Babe! Well, I'm about to graduate from college with a REAL degree!! (of course you know that) I'm really excited, but wish sooooo bad that you were here to celebrate my accomplishment with me. I miss you terribly......being single sucks!!! I really miss having a special person to share lifes every day junk with. Regardless, no one ever seems to measure up to what we had.....I know I'm gonna have to get away from comparisons, but how do I do that when we where together for sooooo long? You were all I knew and all I wanted....now your gone and all other men suck!! Dang!! Why did you have to leave me? Will I EVER find someone else that means anything? Can you help a sista out.......put in a good word to the big guy for me??? I know I'm about the most impatient person on the face of the planet, but I don't want to be lonely anymore...........although I suppose I should wait until I get back home to Texas. Well, enough rambling on about being lonely.....I hope you make your prescence known next weekend. Everybody will be here to watch me graduate and we will miss having you here! God, I STILL LOVE YOU SOOOO MUCH IT HURTS!! I wish things could have been different, you were my perfect soulmate!!! UUUUHHHHH....life sucks!!
I love you and wish me luck next Saturday! Be with me while I walk across that stage and get that diploma!!
I love you forever Gary!
Your wife,

"I have to agree with Summer 100%. As a family of Gary, it is great to come onto the site and read everyone's messages. Sometimes it makes me cry and sometimes it makes me smile. Either way, the family loves them all. Like Summer said, KEEP THEM COMING!!!"
Donna Lowder (Big Sis) of San Antonio, Texas

i am a friend of ANthony Brammers. Anthony and i have been friends for a very long time. i just wanted you to know that your husband was Anthony's hero. I dont think that there is a day that goes by that he doesn't talk about him. Each and everyday he tells me a story of how wonderful Gary was. How much he misses him and how he wishes to be like him. Anthony is wanting to go into the army. i am sad and happy for him at the same time. But i just wanted to say although i haven't really met Gary, i feel like i know him. And to Gary... yuo are all Anthony can talk about day in and day out. that whole 360 thing. he has told me all about it. he has told me all about you. you are his hero. please dont ever forget about my anthony."
samantha hadley of Batson, Texas

"I love you Gary!"
Kassie of St. Joseph, MO

"On behalf of my brother Gary, I just felt it was the right moment to thank each of you for your prayers and comments. I enjoy reading every single one of them and appreciate you taking time out to keep my brother's spirit alive and well! Thank you. Please keep them coming!"
Summer Stan (lil Sis) of Jacksonville, FL.

"I think of the day when we lost Gary, Mark and Ryan everyday. I put on the memory braclet every morning and I wear it everywhere I go. People always ask me what it is and I get the opportunity to tell them of a personal hero. SFC Collins actually saved me one day during a mortar attack when he grabbed me and pulled me behind the bradley just before the shockwave hit. Would it have killed me? I do not know but I am alive today. I also spent many hours on the highway on Nov 8, shed many tears and felt the pain of loss that day. The Army lost a great leader that day. Even though I was only a mechanic I know without a doubt that Rangers Lead The Way."
SGT Daniel Fitts of Phoenix AZ

"Bubba, I have just received the date for Kassie's College Graduation. I know you were so proud of her and here she is finally getting the degree you guys always wanted her to have. We will all be going to Missouri to see the "big" event. I can't wait to see your family again. I know you will be smiling down on all of us as we gather to see her cross the stage. You're missed every day and every minute. I love you very much. 3/26/08"
Donna Lowder (Big Sis) of San Antonio, Texas

"Sgt Collins told me once that I wasn't going to be allowed to contaminate the human race. He made an impression on m when I served in Kosovo and Germany. I remember his love for Lady Death comic books and heavy metal. As far as I'm concerned he was my chief. He would keep us up all night in the Howitzer with all his stories and off the wall ideas. The best chief I ever had....Sgt Collins you rock..."
Michael Sprague of Dana Point, Ca

"To the family of SSG Collins well I just of recently found out that he left us so long ago. I was privalaged to know him and work with him as an Iron Ranger. Although I did not deploy to Iraq with him i did deply to Bosnia and Kuwait with him. We also lost some great men that day and ofcourse the one that hit me more was SGT Young cause i remember him as a young private in my team. I was in Iraq when they where taken from us but with a different unit. I hope everything is going well for you and your family. And im still over here in Iraq as a civi kicking butt and taking names for those that took the ones we cared and loved for."
Victor M Lira of Mission, TX (Iraq)

"Gary only brings a smile to my face when I look back at all the memories I had shared with him. He was the kind of guy that you could only hope to have as a friend. A true one of a kind.(2/28/2008)"
Scott of Houston, TX

"Saundra, I've just found this page which I am assuming is for your son. While I didn not know Gary , I just had the need to say hello to you through this means other than macworro, which is now inoperable. I'm sure his memory is always fresh, and my thoughts are with you."
Mac of Yahoo Australia / strathaird58

"To my old Army Buddy, it's been probably 15 years since we last talked and hung out at your house(Baumholder 92'). It saddens me to know what has become of you. Please know that my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. I'm sorry it's taken so long for me to find out about this, it is times like this that I regret not doing more to keep contact with my former army brethren and now it's too late. God Bless you my friend."
keko of Ft. Worth, TX

"Hey my sexy man!! Just a few days away from our 16 year anniversary! I haven't written on this site in quite awhile............been really busy trying to get my sh*t together. Man, this grieving crap takes a long time, huh!? I think I'm finally getting better about not having you here with me, but now I'm missing MY old ARMY life we had. I really didn't want to leave...........course, I didn't want you to leave either, but I REALLY DON'T LIKE BEING A CIVILIAN!!! This Christmas sucked really bad..........I missed you terribly!!! But, I'm trying really hard now to figure out how I want the rest of my life to go.........I guess cause I'm almost finished with school.......then what???? Sometimes I feel like I'm just trying to pass the time until I get to see you again (but, God willing, that will be a LOOOONG time from now....got these AWESOME girls of ours to raise!) I don't know babe.......just wanted to say Hi and I love you, out loud for the whole world to hear!!

And David............please don't be afraid to see us.....we STILL need ya'll in our lives......we miss yall!

Happy 16 yrs married on 2-8-08 Gary! I will always love you!

Your wife,
Kassie Collins of St. Joseph, MO

"Gary, I remember so vividly the last day we spent together, talking about going to war and being ready. I remember how you were sad that I was going ďinĒ before you and that Iíd better watch my *.
I was leaving for a patrol in Abu Ghraib; Iíd just got done chewing some * on some soldiers and my LT. Then 1SG Nelson meekly asked me to step to the side and asked me if I knew SFC Gary Collins. Knew him I thought, Hell yes I know him he is one bad Mother, I know Gary. Then he told me that you had dies from an IED that hit your Bradley during a patrol in Fallujah. I canít really express the loss I felt and still feel. What a great Soldier. Most people knew you as Ranger Collins, I knew you as a guy that loved Texas, Loved his kids and loved being an NCO. Today is the day we lost you but even though you are not physically here, you still influence my conduct as an NCO every day. We just spoke to Kassie and we are planning on getting together over the holidays. I hope you are with us becuase it is gonna hurt. It will be good though. I miss you brother.God Bless you."
SFC David Kusko of Dayton Ohio

"It's hard to swallow the fact that today marks the fourth year that you have been gone. It seems like just yesterday, the news was given to us and the pain still lives with each of us. We miss you very much and think about you day and night. I want this war to be over and I want the service men and woman to come home. I just pray that it ends soon and the families can have their loved ones return home safe. Today, I will think of you, Mark, and Ryan, what great soldiers you are, but most of all, what great human beings you all are. I know that whoever reads your page will know that your family loved you very much and misses you terribly. I love you little brother! November 8, 2007"
Donna Lowder of San Antonio, Texas

"SFC Collins you were a man of many words. But forgive me for being short. RANGERS LEAD THE WAY - ALL THE WAY
That is all that needs to be said!"
SSG Raymond Hodge of Fort Smith Arkansas

"Dear Gary, Although I have not seen you since you were a little boy, I continue to think of you,your mom and your sisters. You will all be forever in my heart. I hope by now you have met my daughter Rikki up in heaven. It was your mom that drove me to the hospital the day she was born, and your family who was my extended family and helped me so much for the first 5 months of her life. For them, I will always be thank-ful. Gary, please keep a watchful eye out on my little girl and I will forever be thank-ful to you. God Bless, My love-Gwen Lewis"
Gwen Lewis of Davie, Florida

"September 2007, SSG Collins was a true hero and a good man. I didn't know him well, but I know I will never forget him."
Aaron of Salem, MA

"I did not know Sgt. Gary L Collins, but please accept my heartfelt sympathy upon the loss of this fine young man and soldier.You and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers now and for the days to come. You will not be forgotten, Gary! Please include my son, Spc. Crockett Fowler Butler, in your thoughts and prayers as he awaits deployment from Ft. Sill, Ok."
Libby Fowler of Willis, Texas USA

"Gary my brother, not a day goes by that something doesn't remind me of you. Every morning when I go to the shop I say hello to your picture on wall. I miss you more than can be expressed it this little space. Since the first day we met till the day the Lord took you up, you have been my best friend and always will be. Noone could ever take the place of your memory that I carry everday. I Love you man, we all miss you so much, I look forward to the day that we will meet again in paradise. Till then may God bless your family, Kassie and the kids, and give them comfort that only He can provide. Later Hollywood, your friend Benny 8-16-07"
Benny Brown of Magnolia, Texas

"My Angel,
Let me start by saying, Happy Anniversary, Happy Birthday and Happy Memorial Day! The girls and I just got back from seeing Madde' graduate. We had such a good time with all your sisters and mom. It felt like old times Gary, but of course, you weren't there. The kids are growing sooo fast and you would be so proud of them all. Madde' is absolutely beautiful and on her way to being a wonderful adult!! Oh, how I wish you were still here to see everyone and how much they've changed over the years. Being with your family is like being with you....your presence is always so strong and their actions constantly remind me of you. During times like those, I miss you more than ever!! This has been a tough year for me. I can't get you out of my head.....everything makes me hurt for you. I know that I have not fully excepted your death and the fact that my life is forever different. I keep holding on and can't let go. I know it will eventually come, but in the mean time it is tearing me up. I don't know what is going to happen with Joe and I. We are both trying hard to make it work, but things are sooooo different than what I am used to and I don't know if I will ever be able to accept it. Sometimes I feel like the best thing for me is to live the remainder of my life alone. Because, I fear NO ONE can ever measure up to what we had together. It is a daily struggle and I am so tired of trying to fight. I still feel so empty without you. My life is like a fog and I don't know which way to turn yet. I know you come to me, almost nightly, in my dreams. Although I love seeing you, I wake up sad and depressed, because it's not reality. My subconscious always overrides my conscious and I don't know how to bring them together to a place of peace. Accepting your gone and my life is forever different is still just too hard. I am hoping that with my faith in God and my efforts to be closer to him, will eventually help point me in the direction of peace. That is all I know to do, Gary.....nothing else seems to work. I love you so much and I miss having you with me. You were everything to me and you made me whole. Sometimes it's hard for me to understand why God took you. We had beaten the odds and where on our way to a beautiful future.............and then you were gone. My life will never be the same without you Gary. Now, I need your help to accept everything and move forward....because, now, almost 4 years later, I feel worse off than the day you were killed. I love you forever, Gary and I miss you all the time. One day we will be reunited and that promise from God, keeps me going.
Your loving wife,
Kassie of St. Joseph, MO

"To our Hero! We love you and thought about you all day! Memorial Day 2007!
May 29th 2007"
Sis, Donna of San Antonio, Texas

"Happy 36th Birthday my baby boy! I love you, miss you, and think about you every day. Your memory lives on within my heart. 5/18/07"
Mama of Sam Rayburn, Tx

"Happy Birthday little brother. We miss you, and your day is not forgotten. 5-18-07"
Big Sissy, Donna of San Antonio, Texas

"Happy Birthday Babe.
I love you so much."
Little Sis of Jacksovnille, Florida

"I will be walking in honor of Gary L. Collins on March 18 in Albany, NY. I will have his name on a poster. People of the Capital Distric will be walking for peace in memory of fallen service people who have died in Iraq. This is to call attention to the war so our world will not forget."
Natalie of Albany,NY

"Little Brother,
There is not a day that goes by that I don't say your name, tell you that I Love and miss you, or look at your many pictures in the house or at my office. This past Summer, I had the opportunity to see Kassie and your beautiful girls. Bubba, they are growing so big and Taylor acts just like you and Landry is your mirror image. Taylor misses you so much, but she is so tough on the outside. I can see that they all suffer inside, like the rest of us. As you already know, I remarried since you have been gone. Jeff Lowder is his name and he is your biggest fan. I found a VHS tape of your 20th year birthday party and homecoming from Germany not too long ago. As long as Jeff has known me, all he has had is pictures of you, he had never had an opportunity to hear your voice or see you in "Gary" action. For Jeff the experience of seeing you alive was wonderful. For me, it was a happy moment and at the same time I just wanted to turn back time and re-live that time of my life again. Just so that I would have you alive again. In that same video, Uncle Ewell, Aunt Nina, Pa, Aunt Dot, and Jack Peevey were also all alive. What a day, and it was all for you Bubba. I brought the tape to Mom's for Thanksigiving and as we all watched the video, Kassie and the girls called to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. I'm sure you had a part in that timing aspect. We loved it and loved hearing their sweet little voices. They wanted to be with us so bad and play with their other cousins. We wanted them with us just as much. We miss them terribly. I miss you terribly. My girls miss you terribly. My friends that never met you, miss you for Me terribly. I will close for now, but keep watching over us. You are doing a great job of it so far...It must be tough. We keep you and your family in our thoughts and the many US Soldiers that still defend us. I love you Bubba, very much and I miss you everyday. I will never get over this loss. Luv Your "Big Sis", Donna 02-06-2007"
Donna Lowder of San Antonio, Texas

I talked with Loretta this past week and I asked her how you and the girls were doing. She told me how things were and I just want you to know that you and the girls are in our thoughts and prayers. Stay close to the Lord and He will see you through anything."
Tammy Dennison of Fort Belvoir, VA

"Well Gary this is the first time I am writing I talk to you almost every day but today I want you to know that I am very proud of Kassie and the girls. I had the honor of being with Kassie when she presented the tickets to Disneyland to the girls. It was amazing! She did a wonderful job and the girls were just in shock. Gary, your pictures are on the wall and you are always with me. I think of the first time we met and all I will say is that you made the comment that "our wives are spending more money than the men!" You are still a brother to me and mentor. I can remember when I went to Iraq before you and you gave me a hug and told me that you wish you were going instead and I told you no that you had a family. You then told me "to keep my * down and that it would be a problem for me to do!" Gary every year that Nov 8 comes around it's still like the first time I heard. I MISS you so very much! I'm so very happy that I still have the honor of spending the time with the girls and watching over them. Love ya"
Loretta of Wetmore, KS USA

"Hey Babe,
It's been a while since I've looked(or written) on this site. Your "strong" wife has been knocking down the "nuthouse" doors for the last few months. 3 years later and now I have a breakdown. It has been so hard, Gary. You definately would have DX'd me by know!!! I'm physically, mentally and emotionally being forced to change and I hate it.....sometimes I wonder if stuffing it all down wasn't better. I know it was bound to happen at some point, but I honestly thought I was doing okay and had dealt with everything already. (Hell, apparently I hadn't dealt with anything!!) I'm trying now to honestly take one day at a time and if I wake up crying, so be it.......I cant's help the way I feel, I just have to accept it, feel it, and move on. Oh man it's been sooo hard not having you with me. I question everything about my life!!(even though I liked to run the day to day ops, I never had to make life decisions......you did that for us, I was just there to hold it all together and keep it running smoothly until we were settled and you were home.) Now, your never coming home and I'm scared that everymove I make will be the wrong one, or hurt someone! I've never been so scared or cried so much in my whole life!! The reality of this SUCKS and I'm too weak to try and sugar coat things with positive phrasing and pep talk! I know I will be okay (cause I am strong, it's just buried right now)and it may take a very long time, but I've accepted that. I'm depending on God much more than usual because I can't depend on myself right now. I know your still working you magic.....the girls and I are going to California to meet almost 900 others like us, and I can't wait for the impact it is going to make on me. But, I still miss you so terribly, words cannot describe and absolutely hate not having you with me. It's selfish, I know, but people like you and the life that we shared together are extraordinary and it hurts so bad when it's taken away. I love you Gary and I promise I will do my best to continue on for our girls and myself. If I don't, I risk not being able to see you again and that risk is too great. Keep watching over us and open my eyes to your presence in our lives....it's helps me to know your still with us.
Your wife, friend and eternal soulmate"
Kassie Collins of St. Joseph, MO

"To The Collins Family,
My name is Cpl Robert t. Sallee from Ky
e-mail address is sallee11b@yahoo.com.
I am stationed in Ft. Hood for a few more weeks. The day I will never forget just recently past. Every hour of every day I think about my buddy Gary. See I was driving Nov. 8 2003, spent every hour of my rotation up until then with Gray.I was told stories from His one legged dog killing his neigbors cats to stories about his father. If we would have met other than the Army Gary would probably be more like a blood brother than just I brother. I just wanted the family to know that I miss him , and I would most definatly like to speek with gary's father before I leave texas call
any time a (859) 327-7663"
Robert Troy Sallee of Ft. HOOD Texas


I met Gary in late November of 98; he was my squad leader through most of the time I spent in the Army. I was lucky to have such a great man and soldier as a leader. He was always someone I could look up too. I remember before Gary went to ranger school we used to say even without a tab he's a ranger all the way. As a soldier he was tactically brilliant and always led by example. It was no surprise to anyone when he came back to Riley with his ranger tab. Shortly after that time, we deployed to Bosnia for seven months. That was, for most of us, our first deployment. I never even felt scared at all when we left because I knew Sgt Collins would be right there with us and if you asked any of us weíd tell you ďwe would storm the gates of hell with himĒ. He always had the admiration of his soldiers.
Gary always had a way to make people laugh even at the toughest times. Once we were completing night fire at the machine gun range at Fort Riley and I had 4 rounds explode in the chamber in the weapon I was firing. They rushed me to the emergency room at the hospital and I was scared to death. I had lead and brass embedded in my eyes and couldnít see anything. Gary showed up shortly after they had already started prepping me for surgery. When he walked into the room, I heard him say ďLowry, what the hell, you donít need surgery, Iíve got my Leatherman right hereĒ. From that point on he had me laughing and cracking up until I went in. Thatís just the kind of guy he was, an awesome leader that you couldnít help but want to be like and who was always making people laugh.
I was crushed when I read his name in the USA Todayís list of Soldiers killed in the war on terror. I couldnít help but break down and cry, my mind instantly flooded with fond memories of my time with Gary. Gary will always live in the hearts and memories of the many people whose lives he touched. I wish I would have had a chance to tell him how much of an impact he had on me in my life. There isnít a day that goes by that he isnít on my mind. I take comfort in knowing that someday I will see him again. Until then Iíll be thinking of you Ranger.
My prayers go out to the Collins family for their sacrifice.

Sean P. Lowry
Sean Lowry of Elkhart, IN / USA

"Hey Bubba, its me mom,,,had my back surgery but you already knew that, cuz i felt you with me, you promised you would always protect me and i know that you always kept your word, but im here to tell you that after only 2 1/2 months, i am healed and ready to go. Bubba you are always there for me, lots has gone on since you went back to your Heavenly Father, some bad and some good but no matter what, you are always there with us to hold us together. Sometimes me and your 3 sisters have a rough time thinking that you are no longer here on earth with us , but we also know that one day we will all be reunited with you . Just keep watching over us and forgive us if we babble and cry alot, its only cuz your not here to do the Uncle Guss , in da back yard thang. ha ha, You were such a good commedian, and from what i hear from most of your buddies,, you continued doing the skit no matter where you were... good for you . I had your babies here for a few days this summer. They have grown up to be beautiful, smart, and loving children. Taught em how to shuck corn and of course Landry says,, Gee Grandma,, this is kinda like living on a farm. We all had a good laff over that, as we look out at all the horses and cows. lol. She and Taylor will be fine,,, they are well taken care of and loved by many as you were. Thats about all for now sweet baby.. I miss you , Mama (saundraf@centurytel.net)"
Saundra Fontenot of Reeves, La. USA

"Hey Kassie,
I accidentially fell onto this site and had the opportunity to read some the Wonderful Comments people left. I hope that you and your girls are good. This past memorial day I had thought of Gary and honored him and other fallen soldiers of war. As a Thank you to Gary and other soldiers I will continue to pay my respect every year for the sacrafices and dedication that these soldiers and their families make for me."
Carrie Layland of Houston, TX

"Hey Bubba, its me Mom,,, we are having a great time at Donnas and all are here except , of course , your Dad , and Summer didnt make it cuz of the business. But we are all enjoying the gathering and talking about you the whole time. Ive met Joe, Kassies new hubby, and I think he is super. The girls really are doing so well and I'm so proud of them. They are such beautiful little girls, and Joe seems to have the same handle on them like you did. We have you here in out hearts and feel you with us all the time. We miss you so much, and you are forever in Mamas heart. Thank you for watching over me when im on a journey... Love MOM"
Saundra Fontenot of Reeves, La. USA

"this day a dusty battered road he took
the ground beneath his feet it shook

blast shards glass and mangled steel
fire scorched heat he cannot feel

his sweeping dull sensation rings
with a planet of regret it brings

pulling tearing with muffled shouts
his brothers near will pull him out

his hand is held and brow is stroked
tears held back and weeping choked

the sooted trail of tears appear
his dusty battered roads end near

time honored journey with hallowed ground
await this man with guarded gates and bugle sounds

his name you know his mission done
he's Father, Brother, Uncle and Son"
mike waller of Detroit, MI

"Hey baby boy,,, its Mama,,, just reading more additions and praises that you have gotten from so many people,, I miss you everyday,, I pray that when i get to the otherside,, beside the Lords face i want to see you . Times get hard for me when i hear another soldier has fallen. And when i hear another has come home , and is alive and well,, im happy for that family, for I hate the thought of a mother feeling the pain i feel everyday. Some have ask me, how do you get over a death of a child,,, really a stupid question.... i answer them,,,,, "you dont" but you take each day at a time, and give all your Praise to the Lord for giving you the oportunity to of had that child. And i do thanks Him everyday for the children he gave me. You of course was the only boy,, even tho i know your sisters dressed you from time to time as a girl,,, only jealous that you had the beautiful blue eyes and long eyelashes. God made you special, baby. He gave you inner strength that I rarely see in others. You were a Man. A good Man. You had what it takes to be a good father and a good son, and definately a good soldier. I'm so happy that you are Summers angel, and allow her to know what your wishes are. She really freaks me out sometimes though,,, specially when she knew the moment Ryan passed and she wasnt there but at home. Thank you for watching over us. I know im babbling on but you know me,, thats just how mamas are when they talk about thier children... I love you still baby, and I am ready to see you again,, so keep a lite on for me will ya,,,,,,,,,,, bye for now,, Mama"
Saundra Fontenot of Reeves , La.

"Mrs Collins, I have visited this web page many times and until now I never knew what to say...I served in Korea with Sfc Collins. I was a PVT. still green behind the ears and was constantly being pushed around. Sfc Collins was the only NCO to take the time to help me learn the company standards and regulations and also give me a chance. Numerous times he also stood up for me against other NCO's in the company. He went to FT. Riley before I did and when I came down on orders to Ft. Riley I called him hoping to serve under him again but, it wasn't his choice and I was sent to 1-41 Inf. The last time I saw or talked to him was after I had already came back from Iraq and he was in a movie store with you and your children. I think about all that he did for me atleast once a day. SFC Collins was a Soldiers Soldier. It is because of Soldiers like your husband that the U.S. Army is as honorable as it is. I WILL NEVER FORGET HIM! God belss you and your family. My e-mail is... tattooinkartist@yahoo.com"
Adam Babinski (Spc) of oklahoma city, oklahoma

"Hello Ranger,
It has been some time since you went to heaven, but you are not forgotten. I hope the argument I got into with CSM Moore and the Rear -D CDR about the Ranger Creed recital was to your approval. I still recall the look on Moore's face when I told him, if the only ones who can stand up are those that have the tab. I told him then I would be a PX SPT PLT Ranger then..! Of course you and V were there looking down on the whole affair. I have to apologize for taking the honor of escorting you and V with Hodges and being in the following plane.... You know how much flack we got for leaving the AOR..... Especially from CPT Newman, telling Hodge and me not to come...LOL! I still remember his gasp when I told him what and when to expect us....Especially when I told him on the phone that we were already in Dover. Bro... Hodge and I were really pissed about not being able to go with you guys from Dover, and I am sorry.
Mostly though, for not actually knowing what to say to MRS.C or MRS.V when I saw them. It was an akward moment to say the least. I was proud of the fact that I stood my ground about the Ranger Creed and your and V's sacrifice, but ashamed that I was not able to speak on your behalf to your spouse. I guess everything is 20/20 in hindsight eh? Well, my brother I will see you soon.

MRS. Collins if you need anything, do not hesitate. I live in Grandview Plaza. I am working back in Iraq as a civie.... Please Lord watch over this man's loved ones left behind, until they shall meet in your kingdom....AMEN...So Mote It Be~

William Brennan of Tikrit, Iraq

"Hey BUBBA, its me Mom. Ive been reading all of the wonderful things that folks have written to you and about you ... You will be happy to know that i met your C.O. online,, awh the wonders of the net,,, told me about some of the things you did to make the nights and days a bit better for your men... I miss you so much my son,,, Kassies right, nothing will ever be the same without you ,, but dont think that your name and your memory is forgotten , you are at every event we attend and everything we do. Even had you at your old sisters wedding,,, I want to thank you for sending Jeff to Donna. He is so much like you, and we arent just looking for someone to replace you for thats impossible, plus i dont want anyone to replace you. We talked about you as you know at Donnas wedding and laughed about all the silly things you use to do, which was most all the time, but i remember my blue eyed baby boy, the pride of my life, even when i did catch you peeing on the little girl next door,,, trying to show her how far it could go.. lol... thats my boy... by the way,, it was a distance, lol. I miss you baby,,, always will, wasnt right that you leave us before me. But wait for me , for I know I will see you again. Mama loves you just as much today as I did the moment I laid eyes on you . All a Mothers love and Pride was in your name. Gary Lamar Collins. Any of Garys friends wanting to contact me , feel free to do so... @ saundraf@centurytel.net . Please put in subject. About Gary. Thanks so much to all that have written about him and loved him as we do. Your mom."
Saundra Fontenot of Reeves, La.

"Well Gary, our 14th wedding anniversary has just come and gone. It has been a tough few days for me just thinking about it. I can't believe we were married this long!! (but we always said we would make it and prove disbelievers wrong!!) I miss you terribly. Life is so incredibly different without you. The girls are doing well, but there are so many things they wish you could be here for. It just breaks my heart to see the sadness in there eyes when they've accomplished something their proud of, but they know there is a huge part missing. I know in my heart we deal with it the best we can, but it is NEVER easy. You were such a huge presence in our lives, whether you were here or not.......for you to be forever gone is still soooo hard to come to terms with. Although, we have been good soldiers and carried on with the mission at hand, it sometimes seems like a worthless cause without you here. I know you are always with us....you come to me often in my dreams, but it is not the same. You made such a huge impact in ours and everyone elses lives. But as human beings, we take so much for granted, and don't realize just how much, until it's gone forever. I love you so much Gary and I cherish all the days we had together. You will always be a part of me and I look forward to the day we can be together again.
Happy Anniversary Schweeeetie!!
I love you Always,
Your Wife Kassie"
Kassie Collins of St. Joseph, MO

"SFC.Collins was like a dad to me i think about him every day if you all ever need anything all you have to do is call me my # is {918}822-1383 i would like to talk to all of his loved ones"
ryan.w.robison of stilwell oklahoma

"One memory that I have still in my mind was the year that we all had thanksgiving together in Kansas. I remember dad and gary were trying to fry a turkey in the backyard, drinking beer and conversating. Well after a couple of beers, they realized that they left the turkey in the fryer too long and burnt it til there was nothing but crunchy bones. The dog wouldnt even eat it!!!! Luckily you thought ahead and had another turkey cooking in the oven. I miss those fun times.I hope that you and the girls are well. The Morrison Clan miss you all!!! Though gary is gone, he will never be forgotten. He was truly an angel to all of us!!!!!"
Marissa Merino of Ft. Carson, Colorado

"Saundra Fontenot & Kassie (I assume to be Gary's wife:

I lived across the street from Gary Collins when he was a 2 year old. I knew his sisters and his mother. They are all great people and I will love them all forever.

I had a son at that time (which I still have) that played with Gary when they were just little guys.

I love the family, his mother and his sisters. May Gods Blessings always be with you and Saundra, take care of Kent! He is obviously, one of a kind!!!"
Junior Strain, jrredbone@aol.com of Currently, Holland, Michigan

This is SSG Bennett. I was one of Garys soldiers for alot of years. I wanted you to know you honored November 25th for me. That is my Birthday and I have never felt so much pride in it. This month seems to be just as hard as it was in 2003, but everyone says it will get easier. Please tell the girls Happy Holidays. He will always be here with us. He was a RANGER he will never fade.
Jeff Bennett airbornelds@yahoo.com"
jeff of florida

In a few days it will be two years. My thoughts are with you and the girls. I am so happy that you moved on and found someone that you can love again.
I miss you!"
Karin of J.C. KS

"Well, it is November 2, 2005. Six days from the 2nd anniversary of you departure from this earth. It has been waying heavily on me these past few days. I've been dreaming about you alot lately. I miss you dearly, Gary. Your lifeforce was indescribable and so much a part of mine. My love for you will NEVER fade. As an adult, having to have started over again, it's hard to believe we were a part of each other for so long. I had no experience with life, love, relationships, etc. outside of you. We were just kids when we fell in love. We thought we knew it all and shunned the world that said we wouldn't make it. But, we did sweetie!! We grew up "together", learned about life "together", learned about relationships "together", learned to be better friends and lovers "together", and most important, brought two of the most beautiful souls into this world "together"! You were not my other half, you where ALL that made me whole. When you died a part of me died too. Nevertheless, I have moved on. Thank you for bringing Joe into our lives. He is a blessing and has been a beautiful light in these dark moments of our lives. You will always be part of my heart and soul. Noone can take that away. I miss you so much and await the day we will meet again. Until then, I promise to take good care of our babies and live my life according to God, so I may join you in Heaven. Thank you for 16 beautiful years Gary, I will cherish the memories and love you forever.
Your wife, Kassie"
Kassie Collins of St. Joseph, MO

"GARY,....man I miss ya. I think about you every single day. I remember the exact moment I found out you were gone. I was in Iraq getting ready for a patrol and my First Sergeant gave me the Red Cross message. I still cannot believe you are gone. Tell me old friend that I am dreaming.. I miss our golfing and our laughs, I miss just chilling with you and being at your house listening to you and cassie laughing about her "junk" on the walls and in your yard. I know that you are still with us all and I am so very thankful for that. I met your parents and it was very hard to talk to them. They were so very proud of you. I hope that I can continue to be a part of your babies lives and let them know what a fine soldier and friend you were. Taylor, Landry your daddy was the best he loved you so very much and still does and Cassie...he loved everything about you even the "junk" he was so proud of you I hope you never forget that. Gary I miss ya alot..dave."
SFC David Kusko of Fort Benning Ga

"Dear Gary's family,
I am sorry for your loss. I respect your son very much."
Jennae Manzola of Blackstone

"SSG Collins,

The greatest TEXAN i know, that's including myself. I had the chance to know SSG Collins for only 10 months, but man it felt like an eternity. he showed me so much about the Army I thought I knew but didn't SSG Collins was the greatest leader I've ever had, even though we were not even in the same platoon. I never knew such an NCO that knew so much and led by example. Thank You SSG Collins for being the MAN!
God bless your family,"
SGT Jimmy Troy of Kennard, TX USA


I never had the chance to meet you or the girls but I feel that I knew you through Gary. He loved his family very much and it was truely an honor to serve with him for three years at Ft Riley, KS. He will never be forgotten!
Best wishes to you and the girls.
" Iron Rangers ""
SFC Deitering, Christopher of Ft Benning, GA

"Thanks Saundra for clearing up the confusion of Gary's "home". The Hardin, Texas thing still drives me nuts!! And thanks for such kind words about me and the girls!! We will always be a part of you, Gary wouldn't have wanted it any other way and I'm so happy for that!! I love you very much!! And thank you for bringing such a wonderful person into this world who filled 16 years of my life with joy and gave me 2 precious girls!! (and it never hurt that you made him so dang pretty either!!!)

Your daughter-in-law FOREVER,
Kassie Collins"
Kassie Collins of Manhattan, Kansas

"I looked up to SFC Collins like a father, thats probably why I often called him dad and he called me son. It was an on going joke we all ways had. Gary taught me everything I know about being a NCO and leading troops. If it wasn't for him I probably wouldn't have served as much time in the army as I did. I will never forget Gary or the other men I served with that didn't make it back. I am greatful for having had the chance to know Gary and will always remember the good times we all had together in 1st platoon. Mom I hope you and my sisters are doing good even though they still deny me being there brother. Take care."
SGT Michael Gross of North Wales PA

"SFC Collins was and still is an inspiration to us all!" I am influenced by him everyday,wether it be by seeing the Texas flag and feeling an urge to pledge allegiance,seeing the American flag with a positive chill, or to telling stories as charismatic and funny as i possibly can as he did without trying.Gary Collins wasn't an actor in Hollywood that just plays the part and is idolized,"he was the part!" He is a real American hero and i am proud to have served with him. My prayers and condolences for the Collins family and a very grateful recognition to those who served with SFC Collins and to all of you who continue to serve our country without him, Thank you."
Ryan of Albany, OR, USA

"My name is Saundra Fontenot,,, i live in Reeves , La... I am the mother of Gary Collins,, and after reading all of the nice things that so many have said about Gary and his family,, I want to thank you all for making me even prouder of him then I always have been .... Gary was my only son,,, but he was a son enough that he sometimes made me feel like I had 3. lol,,, I never knew who he would be imatating next,, from Eddie Murphy to God only knows, lol,,,, I have been in touch thru the wonders of cyberworld with Gary's Commanding Officer. He has answered so many questions and also giving me so many funny stories about Gary and the antics he did .... Havent the slightest idea where he got that,,, uh-hum,, but this April the 9th and every April 9th in Montgomery Co. Texas,, is SFC Gary Collins day... this is truly a great honor for him and his family.... I wish to thank all that was responsible for that to happen. Just to clear up a matter that has really needed clearing,,, Gary was not from Hardin,, he was from Winnie, Texas,, and lived most of his teenage years in Magnolia , Tex. Just for those who are interested in knowing where he was from. There was some confusion , naturally,, at his death and things got a little mixed up... so now ,, the record is straight. lol,,, leave it to a mother to fix things ,, keep all of our women and men of our armed forces in your prayers,,, for i do know that prayer works... also keep the innocent people of Iraq,, who are so ready for there freedom... Gary had a little insight on the oppression of the Arab world for we lived in Saudi Arabia when he was just a baby for a time,,, Thank you all again,, who have written to my daughter in law,, Kassie whom we love so much and our precious two little angels,, that Gary left us to have. We will always be a family,, no matter what comes to us in the future. This was a promise i made to Gary before he left... for he knew he may not be coming home,, but it was a promise easily made and not necessary to ask. It was already a done deal.... God Bless America.. and I leave you ,,,, the proud mother of a Fallen Soldier."
saundra fontenot of Reeves, La.

""SFC Collins". Whenever I think of a true friend, I think of Gary. I have known him for nearly 11 years as well as served with him as his platoon sergeant in Korea. He was a great friend, a model soldier and a true HERO. I think of him always and pray for You (Kassie) and the girls. I know he is up in heaven looking down on us all and making sure we are all doing right. I miss the times we have shared but most of all, I miss my friend Gary. ...I love ya' brother. You are a true hero. God Bless."
SFC Scott J. Ball of Ft. Benning, GA...USA

"I am trying to reach the family of SSGT Collins. I bought a Hero Bracelet from a company in Austin, TX and the one I received has his name on it. I would like to give the bracelet to his father if I can find him. I live in a very small town called Rye, which is just north of Hardin, where he lived. I never knew SSGT Collins but he is a hero to me. My nephew is currently serving in Iraq and, God willing, will return soon. If anyone would like to know more about the Hero Bracelets please go to www.herobracelets.org. Part of the proceeds of the bracelet sales goes to the Intrepid Foundation which provides money for families who have lost someone in Iraq. Please help me find Gary's family so I can give them this bracelet. You can send me an email at alsdeb@yahoo.com. God bless every soldier who serves, whether it be this war or any other."
Debbie Cherry of Rye, Texas/USA

"Today, February 8, 2005, would have been Gary and I's 13th anniversary. Who would have ever imagined (especially those who knew us in highschool) that we would have "made it" that long. But, boy did we. Gary and I were definately 2 peas in a pod!! I cherish every moment we had together and his larger than life spirit lives on in my 2 beautiful girls, Taylor and Landry. He is so deeply engraved in my soul that my life will NEVER be the same without him, but nonetheless his daily presence pushes me forward to persevere with honor,dignity and high hopes for my families future.

It has been many months since I've looked at this sight, and I am amazed at all the new messages that continue to be written in honor of Gary. I knew he was a great man and an inspiration to many, but I could have never fathomed the extent to which he has touched so many. I thank all of you for your thoughts and prayers. Your memories and honors to Gary give me so much strength. Myself and my girls are beginning a new life and there is no doubt in my mind that Gary has had alot to do with it. As many of you know, I have always been a strong woman, but Gary, "past" and "present", has made me stronger. Thank God for that. There isn't a moment that goes by that I don't miss his sarcastic mouth and "over the top" sense of humor. If there was one thing Gary could do well, it was make me laugh histerically, at just about anything. He will live forever in mine and my girls lives, and as long as I'm alive, will NEVER be allowed to be forgotten!!! He will always be "My 1st true love" and my ONLY "American Hero"! I love you forever and always Gary Collins! Your my SCHWEEEEEEEEETY!!!!!

Kassie Collins of Manhattan, Kansas

"To say a little about SFC Collins is to say a lot. Gary always wanted to be the best. I am one of the lucky ones to serve with Gary. He was my mentor and friend. He would always tell me ďTake care of your soldiers and they would take care of youĒ. To this day, I still follow these words. Unfortunately I was with Gary on a patrol at the time of his death. For three weeks straight our Bradly section uncovered roughly 15 IEDís. Gary had an eye that can spot trouble a mile away. But this time they were a step ahead of us. The bad guys had placed 2 mortar rounds in a cement casing with a sign. To this day I still see that sign exploding when I close my eyes. I donít think Iím ever going to get over the fact that I lost a good friend. I still think if he knew what kind of day we were going to have, he would have done every single thing the same way. He would always make sure we had the safest route and he took the most dangerous one. Thatís why Iím always going to have love for him. He is the reason why Iím here with my wife and 14 month old baby. THANK YOU. I will never forget you. To the Families of SFC. Collins, SSG. Vasquez, SGT Young, SGT Shepherd, CPT. Tipton. Your sons will never be forgotten."
SSG.G of Fort Riley

"Kassie, I thought of you and Gary today and decided to try and contact you over the internet, until I came across this web page. I knew you both while I was in service, and gary was my squad leader at one point, and we served together in Bosnia as well. I loved Gary like a father, because my father wasn't there. Gary was everything that I want to be as a man and as a soldier. I looked up to him and want to be so much like him that I started listening to alternative music knowing I could stand it. I remember one time Gary let me stay at your house because my wife and I were going through our problems, and I remember you telling me to leave her alone and to stay in the army, because I was doing so well for myself. Kassie, I cried deeply when I saw the picture of Gary, I felt like I saw my father online, and couldn't hold back the pain that my heart felt from reading all the things that everyone wrote. I am here in germany now, and will be returning to the states soon. My prays are with you, and those two beautiful little girls. I hope to hear from you, but I also know that you as a person need time to heal, and look to god for the path you should walk write now. My email address is hackney325@yahoo.com please write whenever you feel ready."
anthony s. hackney of germany


"SSG Collins will never be forgoten by me or anyone else, He was one of the best Sqaud Leader I have ever served with in Korea. GOD bless the Collins family."
SSG Pena Douglas of Riverside Ca.



"SSG Collins was one of the finest soldiers I have ever served with his love for his job and love of soldiers has truly been an inspiration to me. Because of soldiers like him I will continue to serve soldiers like him. He truly is an american hero."
CPT Bogue of Fort Carson, CO

"My newphew was Sgt Ryan Young, he was with Gary & Mark. Just wanted to let you know I was thinking of you all yesterday, it was a hard day for all of us, may God be with you all"
Maureen Ledet of San Angelo, Texas

"Kassie......I think of Gary often when I hear of a fallen soldier. I remember most how he would get on to all the woman on the softball team and thought of him alot this softball season down here. You and the girls remain in our prayers."
Tammy Dennison of Fort Polk, LA


I went to high school with both you and Gary and I wanted to let you kow how deeply saddened I was to hear about this tragedy. My deepest condolences go out to you and your children and the rest of Gary's family. I am so sorry for your loss."
Wendy Abney Finch of Bremerton, Washington

"Sergeant Collins, goodbye soldier and thank you. You are my hero."
Bill of Houston, Texas

"I knew Gary as a fun vivaciuos character he had a lot of life and spirit... I remember one party at my house we were all being goofy shooting pool and jumping on the trampoline and suddenly no one could find Gary and we were all saying "Where did Gary go? Did he go home?" But that wasnt like Gary to leave without anyone knowing. Suddenly we hear the 3 wheeler (keep in mind its a childs 3 wheeler) start up and he darts out from a horse stall riding the 3 wheeler that was definately too small for him, doing wheelie and spinning around... It was one of the most halarious things Ive seen. And does anyone remember the halloween party and what he wore... he made people smile all the time thats just the way he was. He will be missed and never foregotten. I spent some time at Al Karje while I was in the Air Force and it was difficult to know that people back home were going on with there lives without a care while we were living in tents and eating MRE's. We have to support our troops in every endeavor whether you support the mission or not. Kassie you looked great at the memorial and your kids a beautiful. May god be with you."
Gari Lynn Lechner of Magnolia Texas USA

"I graduated from Magnolia in the class of 1989. It was my distinct privilege to have failed geometry my junior year, finding myself retaking the class with none other than Gary L. Collins. At the time it seemed a frustration to retake the course, but God does work in mysterious ways. He gave me the chance to know Ranger Gary L. Collins, though only for a bit. But during that small amount of time I recognized Gary as a ray of light that touched everyone he came in contact with. The last time I saw Gary was at Lake Conroe playing volleyball. I learned that he had married his high school sweetheart and joined the armed forces. At that point, whether he knew it or not, he was leading by his example. I admired him immensely for his dedication in accomplishing his dreams. When I learned of his death last year, even though I had not seen him, talked to him or hardly thought of him in over 5 years, I missed him immediately. I thought the world would be a colder place without his light. After his memorial service in Magnolia, I knew I was wrong. The support shown by the community for his family and the absolute depth of which Gary touched anyone he came in contact with, gave me a renewed faith in the human condition. His life is an example by which we should all follow, if only by a small amount. We should not simply remember Gary. We should honor his life by treating others like he treated us and continue shining his light. I learned that Kassie would ask Gary to keep a watchful eye all around him during his tours Ė 360 degrees. I think Garyís scope of 360 went well beyond him and his immediate surroundings. He has left it behind in all those he touched and it continues to spread his ray of light. Even in death he is still leading."
In his debt, Michael J. Kelly of Magnolia TX April 9, 2004 "Gary L. Collins Day"

"Kassie, I knew Gary in high school, when he was a sophomore and I was a senior. I remember him moving into my neighborhood and having a slight crush on him even. Having served in the first Gulf war, and married to a veteran as well, I was especially shocked when my brother called to tell me about Gary. He probably wouldn't remember me that well, but I'm sure he knew my brother, Scooter. My heart goes out to you and your family. I know you are fiercely proud of him and his service, and I know that you will miss him terribly. Gary will never be forgotten by those whose lives he touched, even if it was for only a short time. God Bless."
Leah Covington (Leah Anna Davis) of Birmingham, Alabama

Please KNOW so many people share your sadness, and we are remembering your family in your loss and your deep grief. Your HERO, Gary, will be remembered by name. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. God Bless you. Pat & Sandi Breckenridge from Montana "

My thoughts & prayers go out to you and your girls. Gary was a wonderful person and I thank God for Gary and for the sacrifice he has made to make a better life for the rest of us." Thank you for everything, you are our hero Gary! Rest in peace."

Kassie, May God bless you and your family forever."
Robyn Powell of Magnolia, Texas USA

"to the family of gary collins . i will pray for you , this is a hard time . there is nothing i can say to ease your pain but that look at each other and be thankful for the time you have . Because we know not the hour nor the day we will be called away from this place. I did not attend the memorial service on fort riley but i was told how touching it was and the song they played.Evert]ytime i here that song i think of you both. I AM HERE WITH OUT YOU BABY BUT YOUR STILL WITH ME IN MY DREAMS . i hope you find comfort in music and family. I loveyou for being so strong during this time. jacqueline king of kings gallery my husband who did some work for you come see me patcek house"
jacqueline king of junctioncity, kansas

"he sounded like a wonderful man. his memory will live on forever."
Aly O. of Morgan Hill, CA, USA

"My son served with Sgt. Collins at Ft. Riley and had nothing but praise for him. My son doesn't hand out compliments too easily, but Sgt. Collins was a "high speed grunt" as he put it. May God Bless his family and comfort them daily."
Dwight Turner of Mobile, Alabama

"Thank you Gary Collins, you will not be forgotten. Your bravery goes beyond words. I want to express my deepest gratitude for your sacrifice. To the family and friends, my prayers and deep condolences in your loss. May God strengthen you from knowing that fellow Americans and people around the world care about you and grieve with you in your loss. God bless you all. A very appreciative fellow American,"
Leo Titus of Grayslake, Illinios

"Kassie, I have never spoken to you but I've known about you and Gary since I have met Alex. I can't begin to describe my sympathy for you and your children. I want you to know that I think about you and your girls daily and pray that you will be alright and continue your journey safely through life. As Alex has always told you, we are here for you if you need someone to call day or night."
Renee Romero of Tulsa, OK

"Cassie: My son Rusty saw you on Tuesday at Arlington Cemetery as you all honored Gary. As you know, Rusty and friends loved Gary and had so many fond memories of both of you throughout high school. As we sat at the table on Thanksgiving day, we talked about Gary and Rusty shared so many fond memories. I learned for the first time how Gary loved to sing "Thank God, I'm a Country Boy!" We thanked God for Gary and for the many other brave men and women serving in the armed forces world wide. Please accept our most sincere sympathy and know that we will be remembering you and your baby girls in our prayers. We know that you are heart sore and are grieving. We all grieve with you.Mr and Mrs Logan, Magnolia, Texas"

"My thoughts & prayers go out to all the Military men and women who are at war and especially those who have lost their lives. May God bless you forever. Thank you for everything, you are my hero! Rest in peace."
Amanda K Casas of San Diego, Texas

"To the family and friends of Staff Sgt. Gary Collins:
May God's grace be with you during your time of grief. Please know that our thoughts and prayers are with you and we feel your loss and share in your sorrow. Bless Gary for the sacrifice he has made to make a better life for the rest of us."
The Ford Family of Wells, Nevada

"To the family and friends of Staff Sgt. Gary Collins:
I am saddened by the loss of your loved one. He will always be remembered as a hero for fighting for freedom. I hope that this website will be a source of comfort and encouragement for you during this difficult time, and in the future as you recall the memories of Gary, who continues to live on in your heart."
Tim Rivera of Powder Springs, Georgia

Honor them by remembering... Freedom - is their gift to us But his soul goes marching on