My Parents: Bruce Collins & Marie King approx 1960

This blog is about my father who died in July of 2018. Bruce B. Collins. He was a vietnam soldier. He did two tours in vietnam. A United States Coast Guard Boatswains Mate.

  • A boatswain’s mate (BM) is the most versatile member of the Coast Guard’s operational team, and a master of seamanship. BMs are capable of performing almost any task in connection with deck maintenance, small boat operations, navigation, and supervising all personnel assigned to a ship’s deck force or shore unit.

My father retired from the Coast Guard and settled down in a small town in Northern Maine on Moosehead Lake. Where he lived out his life after taking care of his parents for several years in Waltham Massachusetts until their passing.

I remember my father telling me a story of when his ship was out in the arctic one time, and a polar bear climbed up on deck. My father quickly used the giant fire hose to hose the polar bear off the deck. He was pretty proud of that and loved to tell the story.

He was a good boxer as his father had taught him to box when he was young after being bullied at school. Knowing how to box ended the bullying. Of course that was old school probably back in the 50’s.

After my fathers passing, I found many medals among his things. Some from his time in vietnam. He didnt talk about that experience much with me. Only to once say that he spied on the spies. That always sounded so intriguing to me, but I never got any more than that about it.

His funeral was a military funeral. The local American Legion of whom he had been a member for many years, shot their guns in a 21 gun solute. Two young Coast Guard soldiers had been assigned to stand at each end of the casket. When I arrived I started to walk over to them to thank them but my uncle (a former Marine) told me it was not allowed. When the bugle playing was over the two soldiers folded the flag that had been draped over my fathers beautiful casket. One soldier kneeled in front of me holding the flag and proceded to thank me for my fathers service in a long speech that honestly made my mind go numb. I said thank you twice in the wrong parts as he wasnt done yet. Then when he was done he handed the folded flag to me. It was very surreal. My father is now buried in the Greenville Junction Cemetery in Greenville Junction Maine.

Boatswain’s Mate –