Austin Collins was born July 26, 1919 at Sebree, a town of about 1,100 in western Kentucky. His mother, Della Griffin Collins, was a homemaker and his father, Lon Collins, a farmer.
Austin, one of eight full and half-siblings, enlisted in the Navy on Jan. 11, 1940. He was a shipfitter and petty officer third class on the U.S.S. Arizona when he was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.
In 1948 what once was the Sebree Colored School built in 1938 for $6,500 during the New Deal was deeded to the American Legion and Post 243 was named in Mr. Collins’ memory. As recently as December 2017, a service in his honor was held in Sebree.
A half-brother, James C., served in the Army during World War I. A sister, Villa Mae, worked at a factory that manufactured P-47 Thunderbolts during World War II.
Sources: The Sebree (Kentucky) Banner; the Evansville (Indiana) Courier Press; The Indianapolis (Indiana) Star; Kentucky birth index; Navy muster roll; Census; “Sebree Colored School” historical marker. This profile was researched and written on behalf of the U.S.S. Arizona Mall Memorial at the University of Arizona.